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 News Archives: April 2001

News on International F3000, Euro 3000 and Formula Nippon.

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 22nd April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Massa wins Euro 3000 round 1 at Vallelunga Draco Racing's Felipe Massa continued his dominant testing form and won today's first ever Euro 3000 [formerly F3000 Italia] race at Vallelunga. The Brazilian rookie finished 8.799 seconds ahead of Thomas Biagi (GP Racing), both turning their grid positions into identical race results. Massa led throughout the dry 44-lap race and also set the fastest lap. The third step on the podium was taken by another rookie, Massa's former Formula Renault rival Alex Piccolo (Sighinolfi Autoracing) who was less than five seconds behind fellow Italian Biagi, having pushed the GP Racing driver hard in the first half of the race when his tyres were fresh. Fourth went to F3000 returnee Polo Villaamil (Fortec Italia), fifth to Piccolo's teammate Salvatore Tavano and sixth to ex-French F3 driver Romain Dumas (B&C Competition). Alex Muller, third on the grid for Team Ghinzani, came home in a distant ninth place. Vitor Meira (ADM Motorsport), after his disappointing qualifying, set the fastest time in the wet morning warm-up session, but in the race he dropped out after two laps. The other retirements were Michael Bentwood (Fortec Italia), Max Busnelli (Great Wall Racing) and Luca Vacis (Draco Racing). Massa commented to Zaz.com.br that he had extended his advantage to about 10 seconds from the following cars, and was running calmly to maintain his car while keeping the advantage, only losing a few seconds when passing backmarkers. Following his testing performances and his pole position, the result confirms that the Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault champion is a clear title favourite this year. The full results have been added here.

 

22nd April 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Hattori makes it two in a row at Motegi Naoki Hattori (Team 5Zigen) followed up his Suzuka win with victory in round 2 of Formula Nippon at Motegi today. Yuji Tachikawa (Olympic Kondo) was less than 1.5s behind in second, with Tsugio Matsuda (PIAA Nakajima) third. The remaining points positions went to Michael Krumm (Team 5Zigen), Masami Kageyama (Cerumo) and Katsutomo Kaneishi (Olympic Kondo). Hattori drove a stunning race from 10th on the grid to take the victory, and now extends his championship lead with a total of 20 points. There was mayhem at the first corner, a multi-car crash resulting in Hideki Noda, Masahiko Kageyama, Tetsuji Tamanaka and Seiji Ara retiring on the first lap. Alex Yoong, who qualified sixth, was also caught out in the incident, dropping back to 12th, then 15th after a pitstop. Then on lap 14, the Team LeMans driver spun out on the corner into the back-straight. He said: "It was entirely my fault. The car was good and I could run good times with the guys in front but I pushed too hard to get closer. I kept the car on the track after spinning but couldn't keep the engine going. I'm sorry to disappoint my team and my supporters but this round is over. I will just have to look forward to round 3 in Mine now, to put in my best effort and not make any mistakes to get the result we need." said Alex. Polesitter Satoshi Motoyama ended the race in ninth position. Race positions and updated standings are here. For full results and a race report (when available) visit the official site.

 

21st April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Vallelunga qualifying update... full times added The full times from qualifying for tomorrow's Euro 3000 opening round have been added here (source: Prorace). Alongside polesitter Felipe Massa will start Thomas Biagi (GP Racing), the veteran who won the Assen non-championship F3000 Italia race last year. In third is former International series driver Alex Muller (Team Ghinzani), fourth rookie Alessandro Piccolo (Sighinolfi Autoracing), fifth Polo Villaamil (Fortec Italia Motorsport) and sixth Salvatore Tavano (Sighinolfi Autoracing). Reigning SudAm F3 champion Vitor Meira (ADM Motorsport) could only manage tenth, with now-confirmed teammate "Babalus" ahead in seventh. Qualifying saw better weather conditions than the slippery track of the morning free practice. Red flags were thrown at one stage when a car was left in a dangerous position on the track. Biagi complained that he was on a quick lap when the flags came out, so he could not challenge rookie Massa for pole.

 

21st April 2001 - Euro 3000:

No Monaco team in Euro 3000 Monaco Motorsport appear to have withdrawn from the Euro 3000 series in which they reportedly planned to continue racing. Last year the Italian squad entered two teams in F3000 Italia, with the secondary Monaco Motorsport Junior Team alongside the main team. Now it appears that they are concentrating their efforts on the International F3000 series, where they have either merged with or taken over Kid Jensen Racing. Gianluca Calcagni, who raced for the KJR/Monaco squad at Imola last weekend, was expected to remain with Monaco Motorsport for this year's Euro 3000 series. The team were not among the 22-car entry at Vallelunga today, however.

 

21st April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Euro 3000 entries made clear as season kicks off Today's Vallelunga qualifying session has cleared up speculation as to which drivers and teams would compete in the series. B&C Competition return after apparent budget problems early last year, with drivers Romain Dumas of France and Sascha Bert of Germany. Martello Racing, known as Da Vinci last year, return with South Africa's Etienne van der Linde and France's Jean de Pourtales. Uboldi Corse enters with team owner Davide Uboldi and ex-Draco driver Leonardo Nienkotter. It has also been confirmed that Great Wall Racing (formerly First GP/Traini Corse) are running the two Italians, Max [Massimiliano] Busnelli and Valerio Scassellati.

 

21st April 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Formula Nippon update: Ara disqualified from 3rd on grid Seiji Ara (Cosmo Oil Cerumo) has been disqualified from third on the grid for tomorrow's Formula Nippon round. He has been demoted to the back of the grid for a technical infringement (source: Alex Yoong press). Revised positions are here.

 

21st April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Massa takes pole at Vallelunga as Euro 3000 launches Draco Racing's Felipe Massa continued to impress by taking pole position for tomorrow's inaugural Euro 3000 round at Vallelunga (source: Prorace). Having set the pace throughout winter testing, Massa has established himself as a strong title favourite. His engineer Andrea Tesi Mancini commented that everything had gone to plan, with Massa the "perfect driver". At present no more information on the qualifying times is available. When times come in, they will be updated here. The 44-lap race is tomorrow at 15:00 local time, with a 15-minute warm-up at 10:00. Latest reports say there will be a 22-car field, an improvement on the grids predicted after winter testing activities. "Babalus" is reportedly competing at Vallelunga, having recently tested for ADM Motorsport, and Brazil's Leonardo Nienkotter who raced for Draco last year [in F3000 Italia, the series' former guise] is also said to be returning. Races have been lengthened from 100km to 140km, with the Lola T96/50-Zytek-Avon package once again being used.

 

21st April 2001 - International F3000:

Yannick Schroeder tested for KJR/Monaco; Keen could lose seat It has been confirmed that the unidentified driver testing for KJR/Monaco at Monza last week was France's Yannick Schroeder. April 19th's Auto-Hebdo confirmed that the French F3 graduate would be testing in Justin Keen's seat, and also states that Keen's place at the team is under threat. It is not yet clear whether the Brit, who impressed in round 2 at Imola, will continue at Barcelona next weekend. News thanks to reader Gert of Belgium.

 

21st April 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Formula Nippon round 2: Motoyama on pole at Motegi Satoshi Motoyama (excite Team Impul) took pole position today for the second round of Formula Nippon which takes place tomorrow. Juichi Wakisaka (ARTA) qualified second, with Seiji Ara (Cerumo) third, Hideki Noda (DoCoMo Dandelion) fourth, Ralph Firman (PIAA Nakajima) fifth and Tsugio Matsuda (PIAA Nakajima) sixth. Championship leader Naoki Hattori (5Zigen) could only manage ninth on the grid. Alex Yoong (LeMans) received a boost by qualifying seventh. The Malaysian said: "I am very happy for my management team back home and for the LeMans team's personnel here who have all kept faith with me. They all deserved this result which is long overdue. My regret is that I could have got on the second row in my 4th set of tyres but my flying lap had to be aborted on account of traffic." He added: "The boys did a fantastic job with the car. I had mid corner understeer in the first session but we managed to dial it out and the car had good balance by the end of the second session." Yoong was also hopeful for a close race judging by the qualifying times: "A mere one second separated the top 12 qualifiers and this will make the race most interestingly tight tomorrow." For full qualifying results visit the official site. On this site, qualifying positions have been added to the results table here.

 

21st April 2001 - International F3000:

Smith makes European return in Formula Nissan Former F3000 driver Brian Smith returns to European racing this weekend in Formula Nissan at Estoril, Portugal. The 26-year old Argentinian is replacing fellow countryman Mariano Acebal in the #10 PSN Racing car (news courtesy of Spanish correspondant Jose Ramon Galan). Smith raced in F3000 with Nordic Racing for six races in 1998, qualifying sixth on his debut at Oschersleben. In 1999 he moved to Monaco Motorsport, competing in the first four events. Last year he was linked to a planned Argentinian F3000 squad. The team's plans changed, however, initially hoping to run Mariano Altuna in the since-cancelled Formula Palmer Audi series before jumping to F3000 in 2002. Now Altuna is competing for PSN Racing in the Formula Renault Eurocup, and plans for an F3000 squad are not clear with PSN already sponsoring Prost Junior and Coloni's Rodrigo Sperafico. Smith raced in the Argentinian TC2000 series last year.

 

21st April 2001 - International F3000:

Cochet happy with F.Nissan after missing Super Nova chance Frenchman Jonathan Cochet, who signed to test for Prost last week and makes a Formula Nissan debut with Venturini Racing this weekend, spoke to autosport.com about his failure to secure an F3000 seat with Super Nova due to a budget shortfall. In a question and answer session, the French F3 champion, who tested for Super Nova over the winter, sai of his F1 deal: "This is a really good opportunity for me. I tried to get into Formula 3000 with Super Nova, but we couldn't get the budget together which was a bit of a surprise. I couldn't believe I was having difficulty raising money after winning the [F3] championship last year and also some International races. I really thought it would make it easier to get into F3000, but it didn't seem to make any difference. But I am pleased to be here and also happy because Alain [Prost] decided to take me on after seeing my resume and he had the confidence in me to do a good job. I'm sure I can do a good job, but it is important that I am quick and that I give good information about the car." Asked whether he'd prefer to be in his current situation or with Super Nova in F3000, Cochet replied: "Driving with Super Nova was for me a good possibility, because they are the best team. I had some good tests with them and I think they were happy with me. But it didn't happen. Driving in Formula Nissan is better in many ways because in F3000 there is very little you can change in the set-up and the testing is very limited. If you are not in one of the top three teams it is difficult to go well and if you are not near the front you can be quickly forgotten. And now I am in Formula 1, which hopefully can only be a good thing. I am also driving at Le Mans with ORECA, so with Formula Nissan and Formula 1 testing, it is a good season for me I think."

 

21st April 2001 - International F3000:

Monza testing correction; Enge fastest on day 2, Webber fastest overall... A large error was made with the Monza testing times from last week. Mark Webber was incorrectly stated as finishing 1st on day 2, but in fact Webber was 4th on the day and Tomas Enge was quickest. The mistake was made due to the times being sourced (as credited) from the Durango website, where the error was originally made. Admittedly there's still no excuse as to why we didn't notice it! Webber was still fastest overall in the two-day test with his day 1 time of 1:39.191. The corrected times have been updated here.

 

19th April 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Yoong "to test with F1 team by end of year"; race seat in 2003? Formula Nippon driver Alex Yoong will test an F1 car by the end of the year, his father Hanifah announced yesterday. Malaysian Yoong drives for Team LeMans in Japan, having previously raced for Monaco Motorsport in both International and Italian F3000. Hanifah Yoong, the president of Malaysian Motorsports Organisers and Competitors Association, said: "We hope that Alex will eventually start a F1 race by 2003 following a F1 test contract in 2002." He added that he expects the unidentified F1 team concerned to make an announcement about the test before the end of next month. News supplied with thanks to correspondant Allan.

 

19th April 2001 - International F3000:

"Schroeder" tests for KJR/Monaco Appearing at the bottom of the Monza day 2 timesheets as published by Durango was a "J.Schroeder" at KJR/Monaco Motorsport, with Gianluca Calcagni in the other car. Keen was the only driver credited with competing on day 1, but apparently did not take part on day 2. It is not clear who Schroeder is, unless he is Indy Racing League driver Jeret Schroeder of the United States, which seems highly unlikely, or French F3 driver Yannick Schroeder, with the "J" being a misprint. Nor is it clear whether Keen's seat at the struggling team is under threat for the next round. Any updates would be much appreciated...

 

19th April 2001 - International F3000:

Monza testing times updated; Enge fastest on day 2 The complete times for both days of official Monza testing have been updated here, courtesy of the Durango website. Tomas Enge (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing) was first overall on day 2 with 1:39.654. Petrobras Junior pair Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico ended up second and third on the day, which ended early with rain in the afternoon. Mark Webber (Super Nova) was fourth. Webber's day 1 time of 1:39.131 was the fastest overall from the two-day test. He told autosport online: "It's very, very tight around here between everybody. Qualifying [for round 12 at the circuit later this year] will be extremely competitive but I am very confident we'll be in good shape come September." The only change from the normal line-up was at KJR/Monaco, where a "J.Schroeder" was credited as 24th and last on day 2 in the #27 car normally occupied by Justin Keen (see above).

 

19th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Uboldi Corse on track for Euro 3000 debut The presence of Uboldi Corse in private testing (see below) at Magione has all but confirmed that the Italian team will be entering Euro 3000, starting from this weekend's opening round. The participation of Italian F3 champion Davide Uboldi's team has been long rumoured, but we have heard very little confirmed news on the Euro 3000 entries.

 

19th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Sighinolfi, Fortec Italia & Uboldi Corse test at Magione Some Euro 3000 teams have taken part in a private test at Magione ahead of the opening round at Vallelunga this weekend, according to Prorace. Sighinolfi Autoracing ran its two young drivers Salvatore Tavano and Alex Piccolo. With a track temperature of 34C and air temperature of 16C, the two Italians took to the track in the afternoon. Tavano completed 37 laps (93km) on old tyres, with a best time of 1:06.80. Piccolo completed 28 laps (70km), setting a time of 1:06.57, again on old tyres. Fortec Italia Motorsport and Uboldi Corse also took part at the test with their respective drivers (which means Fortec Italia would have run Polo Villaamil and Michael Bentwood, with Uboldi Corse presumably running reigning Italian F3 champion Davide Uboldi who is graduating with his own squad). The Euro 3000 private testing page has been updated here.

 

19th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Val Hillebrandt ruled out of Euro 3000 season? Despite a report claiming that Val Hillebrandt has sealed a deal to compete in Euro 3000 this season, it appears that the German F3 graduate will not be racing in the series. Hillebrandt will be driving for the Racing for Holland team in the FIA Sports Car Championship this season, racing a Dome chassis alongside team-owner Jan Lammers, who is also his manager and coach. Hillebrandt had planned to race in German F3 again, but could not find the money required. News supplied with many thanks to William of F3000 Today. The Euro 3000 silly season page has been amended accordingly, with the final team and driver line-up set to be made clear in the opening round at Vallelunga this weekend.

 

19th April 2001 - International F3000:

Enge favours longer races and pit-stops Coca-Cola Nordic Racing's Tomas Enge told Autosport he was in favour of a return to last year's longer F3000 races and a Formula Nippon style compulsory pit-stop to spice up the on track action. Last weekend's second round from Imola was a processional affair, as was most of the opening race at Interlagos. Many critics have also claimed the shorter races, the FIA having reduced race distances to from 205km to 150km (a change introduced to allocate more time to qualifying), no longer prepare drivers for the length of races in Formula 1.

 

18th April 2001 - International F3000:

Monza testing day 2, AM session: Enge quickest Coca-Cola Nordic Racing's Tomas Enge went quickest in this morning's session at Monza. His time of 1:39.654 put him ahead of the two Petrobras Junior drivers, Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico. Rain fell towards the end of the session. Today's times available so far are here. The top 10 overall times from yesterday have also been added. According to autosport.com, a number of drivers reportedly jumped the first chicane in yesterday's morning session, but were prevented from doing so in the afternoon. This would explain the surprise appearance of Viktor Maslov in second place. Super Nova boss David Sears said: "Maslov was second fastest when he is normally around 20th, so it was difficult to judge which times were genuine." Yesterday's pacesetter Mark Webber (Super Nova) commented: "We had a good day's testing. I enjoyed driving at Monza and it's fun to drive the car in low downforce configuration." Tuesday's third-placed driver Pizzonia said: "The second session was the only correct one as everyone was crossing the chicane in the first session. I think it was a pretty good day and we got to try a lot of different things."

 

18th April 2001 - International F3000:

Albers experiences F1 at Mugello Former European Arrows F3000 driver Christijan Albers had his first run for the European Minardi F1 team at Mugello today. The Dutchman shared the track with Ferrari's Luca Badoer and Rubens Barrichello and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld. Barrichello set the pace with 1:24.667, with Albers last of the four on a 1:31.446, having completed the fewest laps with 27. Repair work on the circuit prevented the drivers from going out in the morning.

 

17th April 2001 - International F3000:

Monza testing day 1: Webber quickest Mark Webber was quickest for Super Nova in the first day of official FIA testing from Monza, Italy, today. The winner of the previous round at Imola set the fastest time of 1:39.131 in the morning session. Teammate Mario Haberfeld set the pace in the slower afternoon session with 1:39.801. Testing finishes tomorrow at the circuit which hosts an International F3000 round for the first time since 1990 on September 15th. Today's times available so far are here.

 

17th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Euro 3000 season preview This weekend sees the opening Euro 3000 round take place at the Autodromo Vallelunga in Italy. The race on Sunday is the inaugural round of the series that replaces F3000 Italia, having expanded outside of Italy for half of the calendar. Amongst the drivers likely to feature at the front, and be fighting for the F1 superlicence awarded to the eventual champion, are two Brazilians. Felipe Massa with Draco Racing has set the pace all winter, the reigning Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault champion reportedly having turned down the attentions of Flavio Briatore in order to sign his Euro 3000 deal. Although he has much less testing mileage under his belt, SudAm F3 champion Vitor Meira should start as an equal title favourite having sealed a late deal with ADM Motorsport, the team that took Ricardo Sperafico to last year's title (and to a win at Vallelunga in round 5). Other drivers to watch include Gianluca Calcagni (Monaco Motorsport, providing team and driver enter), Thomas Biagi (GP Racing) and Alex Müller (Team Ghinzani). For a full season preview click here. Keep up to date with entries, testing and race results in the Euro 3000 section.

 

17th April 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Albers to test for European Minardi F1 Dutchman Christijan Albers will have his first run for the European Minardi F1 team at Mugello, Italy, tomorrow (Wednesday). Albers, who raced for European Minardi boss Paul Stoddart's European Arrows F3000 team last season, signed a contract with the Australian in February, although it was not clear whether he would be testing for the team or not. Nor is it clear whether European Minardi F3000 driver Andrea Piccini or Albers, or both, are the official test drivers of the squad. Piccini was signed in the position, but autosport.com have called Albers the "official test and reserve driver". Albers commented: "It was my birthday yesterday [Monday], and this is the best present I could have. I'm very excited at the prospect of helping European Minardi at this test. It will be a huge challenge to get to grips with the performance of a Formula 1 car, but it's a challenge I can't wait to take on." Albers had been tipped to race for European Minardi F3000, having shaken down the team's Lola before the season. Instead he will race a Persson Mercedes in the DTM. Stoddart commented on tomorrow's test: "Now that the Formula 1 teams are back in Europe, our testing work can begin in earnest. We have a considerable amount of work to get through so we have asked Christijan to help us out on Wednesday. We have known him for several years and rate him highly as a young racing driver."

 

17th April 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Schumacher first Nippon champ to win in F1 Ralf Schumacher's win for Williams-BMW in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix was the first for a former Formula Nippon or All-Japan F3000 champion. Although former series drivers including Michael Schumacher, Johnny Herbert, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Eddie Irvine have all won Grands Prix, 1996 Formula Nippon champion Ralf Schumacher is the only champion to have won in F1. International F3000 champions have a similarly poor record of F1 victories - only Jean Alesi (1989 champion) and Olivier Panis ('93 champ) went on to win in F1.

 

17th April 2001 - International F3000:

Enge makes GT appearance at Brno Coca-Cola Nordic Racing F3000 driver Tomas Enge flew to his home country's circuit of Brno after the Imola race to compete in round 2 of the FIA World GT championship. The Czech driver competed in a Coca-Cola Racing Porsche GT3-R, qualifying a surprise fourth as he set a time in the "Superpole" session before the rain fell. Another Coca-Cola backed driver, Jaroslav Janis, was also competing with the same outfit. The former Euro Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series race winner, who shares Enge's management, tested Nordic's F3000 Lola briefly earlier this year.

 

17th April 2001 - International F3000:

Fontana linked to F1 comeback Strong rumours in Argentina last week linked former International F3000 and Formula Nippon driver Norberto Fontana to an F1 return. According to an article by Daniel Monticelli, supplied thanks to reader Pablo, Prost sponsors PSN are rumoured to want to replace Gaston Mazzacane with fellow Argentinian Fontana. Fontana, who raced for Sauber in 1997 without success, drove in F3000 for Fortec in 1999. He was linked to a comeback this winter, having tested for Super Nova, and hoped to secure a seat at the team until Mark Webber and Mario Haberfeld were signed. Instead he decided to compete in his home "Turesmo Carretera" (TC2000) series.

 

14th April 2001 - International F3000:

Webber wins at Imola; 6th keeps Wilson in championship lead Mark Webber (Super Nova) took a controlled win in round 2 at Imola today, crossing the line 3.303 seconds ahead of Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia), with Coca-Cola Nordic Racing's Tomas Enge a further eight tenths behind. Webber's win, the second of his career, puts him second in the championship, one point behind Nordic's Justin Wilson, who finished sixth after winning the previous race. Fourth and fifth places earned rookies Antonio Pizzonia (Petrobras Junior Team) and Patrick Friesacher (Red Bull Junior Team) their first F3000 points. At the race start, Webber didn't make a perfect getaway, and Manning attempted to pass him into the inside of the left-hand kink. The Brit was forced onto the grass, but he still kept second. Friesacher made a poor start and dropped from second to fifth as they went through Tamburello, while Pizzonia jumped from seventh to fourth and Wilson maintained his starting position. Giorgio Pantano (Team Astromega) was the biggest loser, running through the gravel at Tamburello after starting fifth, while Sebastien Bourdais (DAMS), the team having built up a new car after his qualifying shunt, spun out for good at the same chicane. As the leaders remained in formation, in the midfield Ananda Mikola (Team Astromega) crashed, having overshot the Variante Alta before spinning off on the grass and hitting the armco on the left of the track. From the first lap the leaders remained in formation in what turned out to be a processional race at the front, much like last year. The order was: Webber, Manning, Enge, Pizzonia, Friesacher, Wilson. The top three began to break away from Pizzonia, with Manning harassing Webber for the lead. Then, after ten laps of racing, a heavy crash for Gabriele Varano (F3000 Prost Junior Team) brought out the safety car (see story below), with Gianluca Calcagni (KJR/Monaco) and Derek Hill (DAMS) tangling as they passed the accident scene under the safety car conditions. The car of Calcagni's teammate Justin Keen was seen to be smoking as the field cruised round under the yellow flags, although he continued running to the end of the race. At the restart, Webber controlled the pace and the status quo resumed, no-one at the front attempting any passing moves. David Saelens (European Minardi F3000) and Jaime Melo Jr (Durango) then both collided at Acque Minerale over 10th position, Melo on the left riding over Saelens' car after their wheels locked together. Saelens rejoined minus his rear wing, but soon pulled off and retired. At the tail of the field Joel Camathias (KTR) ran wide at Rivazza trying to pass Nicolas Filiberti (Prost Junior), allowing Gabriele Lancieri (Durango) through. Then at the front on lap 17 there was a moment of excitement, Wilson in 6th fending off Ricardo Sperafico (Coloni F3000) and Fabrizio Gollin (Coloni F3000) into Rivazza, Wilson having dropped back from Friesacher after what appeared to be a mistake. Then Pantano in 9th ran wide out of Acque Minerale, Andrea Piccini (European Minardi F3000) tried to pass him into Variante Alta, where Pantano made a further mistake. On the exit Piccini got alongside Pantano to the Astromega driver's left. With Piccini almost pushing Pantano off onto the grass at high speed, Mario Haberfeld (Super Nova Racing) also passed the reigning German F3 champion. There was more action on lap 21, with an impressive Justin Keen passing Antonio Garcia (Red Bull Junior Team) for 13th into Tamburello. Exiting the chicane, Garcia ran wide and allowed Bas Leinders (KTR) through as well. With 10 laps to go, Webber had pulled out a small lead from Manning at the front, whereas the top 3 had been bunched up together for a number of laps after the safety car period. In the midfield Garcia then ran off the track at high speed at Piratella, narrowly avoiding the barriers that Bourdais hit in qualifying. Keen then blotted an otherwise impressive run by hitting the back of Ricardo Sperafico (Petrobras Junior Team) into Rivazza over 12th place, Sperafico losing several places before rejoining. Filiberti then rammed Keen at the final chicane, the Argentinian losing his front wing. The Prost Junior driver pitted for repairs and rejoined. On lap 26 Piccini, in 9th place, spun exiting the Variante Bassa. The pursuing Haberfeld's only option was to turn left in an attempt at avoidance, but Piccini collected him and both cars came to a halt at the edge of the track. Pantano, having gained two places from the collision, then threw away 9th place after running wide at Variante Alta and spinning down to 11th on the grass. At the front the order remained the same, but by lap 29 Wilson had again closed up on Friesacher and was attempting to pass, but ultimately could not do so. After 31 laps Webber crossed the line first, taking his first points for Super Nova after his Interlagos penalty, with Manning second, Enge third, Pizzonia fourth, Friesacher fifth and Wilson sixth. Wilson still leads the standings with 11 points to Webber's 10, with Melo Jr and Manning in equal third with 6 points. With both Nordic drivers in the points, the squad lead the Teams championship standings with 15 points to Super Nova's 10. Nearest rival Durango has 6. All the teams and drivers will soon be back in action, as there is an official FIA testing session at Monza this Tuesday and Wednesday. Race results are here.

 

14th April 2001 - International F3000:

Big crash for Varano brings out safety car Prost Junior Team driver Gabriele Varano crashed heavily early in today's race at Imola, causing a safety car period. Exiting the Tamburello chicane, the Italian spun off to his left after losing control on the kerbing. His blue Lola speared into a covered tyre-barrier and spun many times before coming to rest partly on the track, minus its wings and with heavy damage to its right hand side. Varano appeared to be trapped in the car, and while he was being attended to by marshals, he was very nearly hit by the cars of Gianluca Calcagni (KJR Monaco Motorsport) and Derek Hill (DAMS), which had collided as the field followed the safety car. The accident, a lap after Varano's crash, was caused when the field bunched up as some drivers approached the scene too fast. Calcagni's car got sideways as he braked behind Varano's teammate Nicolas Filiberti, and Hill was similarly caught out and drove into the back of the Italian, making both cars spin onto the grass, fortunately both missing the marshals and Varano's car. After the medical car had arrived on the scene, Varano managed to get out of the car and walk away, apparently uninjured.

 

14th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Hillebrandt set to race in Euro 3000 According to a Belgian magazine, Val Hillebrandt will be racing in Euro 3000 this season. Belgian Hillebrandt was 20th overall in German F3 last season, racing for the Witmeur KTR-affiliated JB Motorsport. The article did not mention which Euro 3000 team he is set to drive for, although it said he will definitely be racing in the series. News supplied with many thanks to reader Stijn.

 

14th April 2001 - International F3000:

News on new Lola for 2002 Lola Motorsport will be building a new International F3000 chassis for 2002, the Huntingdon marque having been awarded the contract as we revealed earlier this week. The car, which will be raced from 2002 to 2004 inclusive, is expected to have a significantly different gearbox to the current Lola B99/50. Lola design engineer Robert Smith told Eurosport: "We'll be designing a brand-new chassis which is going to be a one-piece chassis, so it will be stiffer and lighter, and we're going to work on the car to make it easier to maintain and safer, and incorporate all the bits the mechanics want."

 

14th April 2001 - International F3000:

Zytek and Avon renew contracts It was confirmed in the past week that Zytek and Avon have both renewed their three-year contracts with the FIA to be the exclusive engine and tyre suppliers respectively for International F3000. The new contracts cover the 2002 to 2004 seasons. Zytek engineering Team Manager Jim Hibbert told Eurosport: "We're going to continue in the same vein as we have been for the past six seasons, we've got a contract for the three years. It's very good for Zytek because recently we did the million miles with this [the Zytek KV] engine - that was at Interlagos in qualifying, so we hope to provide the same service that we have for the past six years." Roger Leworthy of Avon Tyres said: "Obviously the contract has been awarded for another three years, which obviously we're very happy at Avon about that, and very proud that its been given to us again, and obviously we will look forward to the next three years." A move to grooved tyres, which would bring F3000 into line with F1, had been mooted, but this has been ruled out and slicks will continue to be used. Coca-Cola Nordic Racing team manager Chris Mower voiced his support on the news that Lola, Zytek and Avon have all been given new contracts: "First of all, it's very good that we've got the same manufacturers supporting the formula again. You can't beat experience really, and these three have been with the formula, Avon in particular, since it started."

 

14th April 2001 - International F3000:

Imola qualifying correction... In yesterday's qualifying at Imola, Rodrigo Sperafico (Coloni F3000) qualified 8th, with his brother Ricardo (Petrobras Junior Team) 11th, not the other way round. The error was made as the times were taken directly from the TV coverage, where no effort has been made to distinguish between the two drivers, and there was no time to check them until today. Apologies for the mistake (again)... Corrected qualifying results are here.

 

13th April 2001 - International F3000:

Webber on pole as Friesacher impresses at Imola Super Nova's Mark Webber took pole position today for round 2 of the International F3000 championship at Imola. It is the Australian driver's first pole in the category, Webber having been suffering from bruised ribs sustained in testing Benetton's F1 car since the last F3000 round. Rookie Patrick Friesacher (Red Bull Junior Team) was a surprise in second place, three-tenths behind, with Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) third, Tomas Enge (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing) fourth, Giorgio Pantano (Team Astromega) fifth and Justin Wilson (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing) sixth. Antonio Pizzonia (Petrobras Junior) and Rodrigo Sperafico (Coloni F3000) finished 7th and 8th, both sharing the exact same time. Times steadily improved in the first half of session 1, provisional pole alternating between Webber and Wilson. Then Webber set a lap of 1:38.859 which stood for some time, before the Australian improved to 1:38.635, a time no-one else could match. During the first of two incident-filled sessions Justin Keen (KJR/Monaco) spun and rejoined, Pizzonia spun across the gravel and was forced to spend some time in the pits afterwards, David Saelens (European Minardi F3000) ran wide at Acque Minerale, while Fabrizio Gollin (Coloni F3000) beached his car at the same corner. Newcomer Gianluca Calcagni (KJR/Monaco) then spun entering the straight, but the worst fortune fell to Sebastien Bourdais (DAMS), who crashed heavily (see story below). Pantano spent much of the session in the pits with the team working on the set-up, while Derek Hill (DAMS) also suffered a spin at the end of the 45 minutes. Webber ended up fastest from Manning, Wilson, Enge, Pizzonia and Friesacher. In session 2, it took a while for significant improvements to be made and no-one could touch Webber, who improved his time to 1:38.518 as the session ended, before running out of fuel and attempting to coast back to the pits. The man on the move was Friesacher, the Austrian showing his impressive pre-season testing pace was no fluke. He gradually improved his grid position, jumping to fourth, then third and finally second. The session was even more hectic than the first; Webber spun early out of Variante Alta, Calcagni crashed, Hill ran through the gravel at exactly the same place as teammate Bourdais in session 1, Webber spun again out of Acque Minerale, Hill went off again at Villeneuve, Saelens crashed and damaged his rear end out of the same chicane, and Jaime Melo Jr (Durango) spun and was beached out of Piratella. Joel Camathias (KTR) then suffered a couple of spins, teammate Bas Leinders lost control on the grass and spun after running wide out of the Variante Alta, Giorgio Pantano beached his car in the gravel after moving up to fifth, Keen went through the gravel and Viktor Maslov (Arden Team Russia) spun. Qualifying results are here.

 

13th April 2001 - International F3000:

Bourdais crash costly for grid position Sebastien Bourdais suffered a heavy crash in the first qualifying session at Imola today. The accident in the Piratella corner left his black DAMS Lola heavily damaged on its right hand side, the car having hit a covered tyre barrier after running wide. Bourdais, third at the time of the shunt, was forced to miss the second session as repairs were not possible in time and there are no spare cars permitted in F3000. As a result he dropped down to ninth on the grid. Teammate Derek Hill also had a high-speed off at the same place in the second session, though the American just missed the tyre barriers.

 

13th April 2001 - International F3000:

Calcagni replaces Goudy at KJR/Monaco Italian Gianluca Calcagni has replaced Yann Goudy, who was only on a temporary deal, in the #28 KJR/Monaco Motorsport car. Calcagni drove for Monaco Motorsport in Italian F3000 last year, finishing the season seventh overall, having finished as Italian F3 runner-up in 1999 with RC Motorsport. The man he replaces, France's Goudy, drove for the Monaco Motorsport Junior Team in Italian F3000 last year. Calcagni was 20th in qualifying, outpacing teammate Justin Keen in 24th. However, Calcagni missed most of the second session after crashing and damaging the rear of his car. As in Interlagos, both KJR/Monaco cars ran in the traditional Monaco Motorsport red livery with "Eminflex" sponsorship previously seen in the 1999 season.

 

13th April 2001 - International F3000:

Lola contract update As revealed here on Tuesday, Lola Motorsport have been informed by the FIA that they have been given the exclusive supply contract to build the next F3000 chassis, to be introduced from 2002. Lola boss Martin Birrane told yesterday's Autosport that the company had definitely clinched the deal, although at that stage the actual contract was still not signed. He also promised that there would be no repeat of the supply problems experienced by teams when the Lola B99/50 was introduced in 1999.

 

13th April 2001 - International F3000:

Sarrazin joins ORECA for Le Mans Former F3000 driver Stephane Sarrazin has joined the ORECA squad for the Le Mans 24 Hours, where he will drive one of the French team's Chryslers. Sarrazin raced for Apomatox/Gauloises Formula [Prost junior] from 1998 to 1999, winning on his debut at Oschersleben, before a move to the mySAP.com Team [McLaren junior] backfired when he was dropped mid-season. He also competed in the 1999 Brazilian Grand Prix for Minardi and was the Prost test driver. Another ex-F3000 driver, Franck Montagny, currently leading the Formula Nissan standings after winning the first two races, will also be racing for ORECA at Le Mans. Montagny was in contention for a Kid Jensen Racing F3000 drive over the winter but he couldn't find the necessary sponsorship, prompting his move to sign for Epsilon by Graff in the Open Nissan series.

 

11th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Massa fastest in Hungary Euro 3000 testing Brazilian Felipe Massa once again set the Euro 3000 pace in a two-day test at Hungary's Pannoniaring, which we presume is an unofficial test. The Draco Racing driver set a time of 1:38.10, outpacing countryman Vitor Meira who set a best of 1:39.70, the reigning SudAm F3 champion having recently signed for ADM Competition. The Durango pair of Michele Spoldi and Marco Cioci were third and fourth, ahead of Draco's Luca Vacis, Team Ghinzani's Alex Müller and Armin Pörnbacher, and "Babalus" testing for ADM. No other teams or drivers took part. Massa was the only driver to beat the previous lap record for the Lola T96/50, set by 1998 International F3000 champion Juan Pablo Montoya at 1:38.50. The full Pannoniaring testing times have been added here. (Source: Prorace / Draco Racing)

 

11th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

"Babalus" to ADM Motorsport? One of the revelations of last season in F3000 Italia, "Babalus" (real name Matteo Santoponte) has emerged as a candidate to partner Vitor Meira at ADM Motorsport. The Italian was ninth overall with First GP/Traini Corse in F3000 Italia last year and had tested for Draco and Durango over the winter. He has been testing for ADM at the Pannoniaring in Hungary (see story above).

 

10th April 2001 - International F3000:

LOLA SECURE F3000 CONTRACT - EXCLUSIVE: A reliable source has informed us that Lola Motorsport have secured the contract from the FIA to build the next International F3000 chassis. The car will replace the current B99/50 from next season, the three-year contract meaning that the chassis will be used from 2002 to 2004 inclusive. Lola were informed of the FIA's decision last Friday evening, although there has been no announcement yet on their website or from the FIA. Dallara was Lola's only rival for the contract when the final tenders were submitted recently. Lola have been the sole chassis builders since the one-make formula was introduced in 1996, having secured the two previous contracts.

 

7th April 2001 - International F3000:

Lola versus Dallara for F3000 chassis contract Lola and Dallara are the only two contenders still aiming to secure the next International F3000 chassis contract. According to Autosport, the two manufacturers were asked to re-submit their bids last week to the FIA. The contract is for the supply of a one-make F3000 chassis which will be used between 2002 and 2004 inclusive. Reynard had stated their interest in returning to the formula, but appear to have decided against the move. The previous two contracts, both of three years duration, had been secured by Lola, which built the T96/50 and the B99/50, the two chassis used so far in the one-make era that was introduced for 1996. Dallara built their only F3000 car in the late-1980s, their Dallara 3087 finding little success. The Italian marque has dominated F3 chassis construction for many years, and is also a major car supplier for the Indy Racing League.

 

7th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Scassellati and Busnelli in first test for Great Wall Racing The Great Wall Racing Team (formerly First GP) have made their first track appearance in a private test at Magione (source: Prorace). With the technical assistance of team boss Luciano Traini, Italians Massimiliano Busnelli and Valerio Scassellati drove at the circuit in a yellow & red (if our translation is correct) liveried car, with no problems. Scassellati had already joined the team according to reports, and now it appears that Busnelli, a former Italian Renault Campus champion, Eurocup Formula Renault champion and Italian F3 driver, could race in the other seat. Previously two Chinese drivers were expected to race for the squad, with Wang Chao and Liu Yang seeking sponsorship as recently as the second half of last month. At Magione, Busnelli was fastest on 1m07.0s, with Scassellati, third in Italian F3 last year, on 1:07.5. Team Traini's Formula Renault drivers - Daniele Cardinali and Maycon Zandavalli - were also in attendance (in F.Renault machinery), along with two of the Door's team's drivers.

 

7th April 2001 - International F3000:

Super Nova and Duragno row over Benetton colours According to Autosport / Autosport online, a row is brewing between between the two Benetton affiliated teams in F3000, Durango and Super Nova, over which is the official "junior team". Durango entered the opening round at Interlagos in a full Benetton livery, as they ran last year in Italian F3000, while Super Nova, running the Benetton/Renault contracted Mark Webber, entered with parts of the livery in Benetton colours, but without the team name on the car. Durango made their agreement with the Benetton family, which sold the Benetton team to Renault last year, while Super Nova are affiliated to Renault, which they therefore claim owns the Benetton name. Super Nova's David Sears said: "They [Durango] can't use the Benetton name. It is owned by Renault." He claimed that Renault are likely to take action against Durango for using the name. A Durango spokeswoman said: "We are the official Benetton junior team and have a contract to prove it. We have the Benetton name on our cars and Super Nova doesn't." Durango are set to continue running with the same livery at next weekend's Imola race.

 

7th April 2001 - International F3000:

Foot and mouth threat to A1-Ring race The Austrian Grand Prix, with its International F3000 supporting race, will be cancelled if there is a single case of the "foot and mouth" livestock disease in the country, according to Autosport. The F3000 round, the fourth of the series, is due to take place on 12th May.

 

4th April 2001 - Euro 3000:

Satisfactory test for Sighinolfi at Albacete Euro 3000 team Sighinolfi Autoracing tested at the Spanish circuit of Albacete last Thursday and Friday. The team, with drivers Alessandro Piccolo and Salvatore Tavano, declared the tests as satisfactory, with the countdown now underway to the opening round at Vallelunga later this month. The fastest times were set on Friday afternoon, when Piccolo was fastest on 1:19.78 with Tavano on 1:19.97. Both drivers suffered off-track excursions on the first day, the team blaming the condition of the asphalt combined with the strong winds. Felipe Massa (Draco Racing) was among the other drivers competing at the circuit in the private testing. Times are here. (Source: Prorace)

 

4th April 2001 - International F3000:

Montagny dominant on F.Nissan debut Former DAMS F3000 driver Franck Montagny won both Open Nissan races on his series debut at Jarama at the weekend. The Frenchman, driving for Epsilon by Graff, won from fourth on the grid in race 1, climbing to second at the start before passing Rafael Sarandeses (Adrian Campos Motorsport) on lap 6, and won from pole in race 2. He leads Sarandeses in the standings on 42 points to the Spaniard's 32. Former McLaren F3000 driver Tomas Scheckter (Vergani Racing) managed a third place in race 2, leaving him sixth in the standings.

 

4th April 2001 - International F3000:

Webber loses second place at Interlagos; Gollin moves into points Almost three hours after the race at Interlagos on Saturday, Mark Webber (Super Nova) lost his second place after he was given a 25-second time penalty. Stewards found the Australian to have overtaken European Minardi's David Saelens before the startline when the race was restarted after a safety car period. Webber's 25-second penalty drops him to 7th in the final results and means he loses the 6 points which had provisionally left him second in the championship standings. Coloni's Fabrizio Gollin benefits from Webber's penalty, as the Italian is promoted into sixth position in the race, and therefore has 1 point in the championship. Jaime Melo Jr (Durango Benetton Junior) is promoted to second, Sebastien Bourdais (DAMS) to third, David Saelens to fourth and Joel Camathias (KTR) to fifth. The safety car period also caused Antonio Pizzonia, Rodrigo Sperafico and Tomas Enge to receive time penalties for illegally passing Jaime Melo Jr, although they were handed stop/go penalties during the race. In a Super Nova Racing statement, Webber commented: "We weren't in that league but rules are rules. There was no grey area, the timing showed I was 5/100ths of a second ahead of another car when we went green again although it was impossible to visually judge at the time." He added: "The safety car had pulled off and I had just come out of a tow after the kink on the front straight. The tow worked extremely well - obviously too well - and caught me out by a fraction. It was extremely close and the stewards agreed with the case I put to them but the rules are in black and white and we accept their decision." Revised results and standings and a race report are here.

 

4th April 2001 - International F3000:

Corrections... Two small corrections to the Interlagos race report: It was Ricardo Sperafico who made contact with Giorgio Pantano into the first corner, not his brother Rodrigo as stated by mistake. Also, Ricardo damaged the left, not the right, side of his car in his crash exiting the Senna "S". Apologies for the errors...

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