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 NEWS ARCHIVES: December 2000

Archived news on International F3000, Euro F3000 and Formula Nippon.

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December 31st 2000 - International F3000:

Still no news on Melo's team-mate It is still unclear whether a team-mate to Jaime Melo Jr. has been confirmed or not at Durango Benetton Junior. Reports in Brazil announced that Melo would partner "Herald Kaffer", who we can only assume is German F3 driver Pierre Kaffer, who was a title contender with the HMS team. Autosportnews claims that the identity of Melo's team-mate remains a secret.

 

December 31st 2000 - International F3000:

Sporting Regulations now on-site Apologies for forgetting to upload the .pdf file of the 2001 Sporting Regulations for International F3000. They can now be found here.

 

December 30th 2000 - International F3000:

Melo Jr announcing his new Durango deal

Melo jr. and Kaffer join Durango Benetton Junior Durango have become the latest team to confirm two drivers for next season's International F3000 championship. Brazil's Jamie Melo jr., who lost his Petrobras Junior drive, will be partnered by a German driver, named in the Brazilian press releases as "Herald Kaffer". We can only assume this is German F3 frontrunner Pierre Kaffer, who previously stated his intent to race in F3000 this year. Melo's deal was announced in Brazil on Thursday. Durango team director Ivone Pintone travelled especially to Brazil to sort out a deal. Melo has been signed on a one-year deal, with an option to renew the deal for the 2002 season. The former SudAm F3 runner-up knew Durango in the past, as he had his first test in an F3000 car at the end of 1998 with the team. Jaime said that of the options he had for next season, Durango Benetton Junior was best, since he believes it will give him the chance to fight for victories. He said [translated]: "We opted for the package offered by Ivone Pinton because there is already a definite testing programme, mainly in the quota of the private testing that each team can complete. We have in mind to be among the top five in all the races and the fact that all the members of the team have been together for more than 10 years will be important." He is moving to Italy, in the Padova region, in order to live close to the team headquarters. Pinton said the choice was made since Melo is a young driver who already has experience in the category, which will help him work with the team in the car's development. Pinton said [translated]: "Today we have to work with young pilots because it is the tendency adopted in Formula 1. We already had winning pilots in our team, but they didn't get to enter Formula 1 for they were already at an advanced age." Melo is travelling to Italy on January 15th and he will have his first test with his new team on the 25th. In February he will have a programme of testing ahead of the opening race at Interlagos on March 31st. The news also confirms that the Durango team will continue with their Benetton junior team status, despite submitting their name as "Durango Formula" to the FIA ahead of their return to the series after a season in F3000 Italia. (sources: Jaime Melo Jr. / SportsYa!. Picture © SportsYa!.)

 

December 30th 2000 - International F3000:

Rodriguez memorial karting event planned As mentioned previously on this site, the late F3000 star Gonzalo Rodriguez will be remembered in a special karting event in South America on Sunday 21st January. SportsYa! reveals that the "Master 2001 Punta del Este", organised by the Gonzalo Rodriguez Foundation, will feature many stars of the past and present, including Clay Regazzoni, Rene Arnoux, Arturo Merzario, Juan Manuel Fangio II, Wilson Fittipaldi, Emilio de Viliota, Eliseo Salazar, Jacques Villeneuve, Guerrero Robert and Johnny Ceccotto.

 

December 30th 2000 - International F3000:

FIA publish 2001 Sporting Regulations The new F3000 Sporting Regulations for 2001 have been released in full on the FIA website. They can be found here as a pdf file (you need Acrobat reader to view the text).

 

December 27th 2000 - International F3000:

l-r: Pizzonia and Sperafico testing in November

Pizzonia and Sperafico join Petrobras Junior Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico were confirmed as the new Petrobras Junior drivers in Sao Paolo at Christmas, reports at Zaz.com.br and SportsYa! reveal. The Brazilians, 19 and 21 respectively, were both champions this year, Pizzonia in British F3 and Sperafico in Italian F3000. They inherit the seats left vacant by current champion Bruno Junqueira and Jaime Melo Jr. Both drivers have been signed on one-year contracts. Team boss Paul Jackson said he was sufficiently impressed with the duo, particularly Sperafico, in testing (pictured) to offer them the drives. He added that the drivers not only impressed with their speed, but also with their work on car setup and communication with the mechanics. Sperafico believes he will get on well with Pizzonia, his friend and new teammate, since they will both be sharing a learning year. He said [translated]: "We will form a strong team, although young. Pizzonia and I are friends and we understand each other very well. It will be a year of learning for both of us and this is very exciting." He did comment that he has concerns about adapting to the Lola B99/50, but he is confident that plenty of pre-season testing will leave him ready for the first race at Interlagos in March. He added: "I know that it is necessary to win at each stage to arrive in F1 and F3000 is the final one of them." Sperafico last raced in the Petrobras colours in 1997, when he finished as British Formula Ford runner-up. After a spell in SudAm F3, this year he clinched the Italian F3000 title for ADM Motorsport at his first attempt. Pizzonia's rise to the top in Britain has been impressive, the Amazonian having taken the 1998 Formula Vauxhall Junior title in dominant fashion, similarly destroying his opposition in the Formula Renault Winter Series (1998), Formula Renault ('99) and British F3 with Manor Motorsport this season. He has also tested F1 machinery for Benetton and Arrows, but recently admitted he needs to improve his fitness before moving into the premier category.

 

December 27th 2000 - Euro F3000:

Battistuzzi set to join ADM Motorsport Marcelo Battistuzzi is close to signing for ADM Competition, the team which took Ricardo Sperafico to this year's Italian F3000 title. The Brazilian tested for the Italian team at Valencia in private Euro F3000 testing on December 20th-21st. The main objectives of the test were to learn the Spanish circuit ahead of the first F3000 race there next year, and to get to know the team. Battistuzzi looks certain to return to F3000 competition with ADM next year, once he has finalised a contract with the team and confirmed his sponsorship from Brazil. Battistuzzi's career in F3000 has seen mixed results and little stability. In 1998 he made his debut in the International series with Apomatox, the Prost junior team, a full season yielding just one point. For 1999 he became something of a International F3000 supersub after Portman Arrows folded after three races, also racing for Coloni, Petrobras Jr and Monaco Motorsport. His main campaign involved stepping down to Italian F3000, winning at Monza for Redgrave Racing before switching to Coloni. In 2000 Battistuzzi raced only three times in the Italian series; twice for the Monaco Motorsport Junior Team and once for B&C Competition. News from Battistuzzi Newsletter kindly provided by Nicolas Korzan of F1 Espana.

 

December 27th 2000 - International F3000:

Garcia testing for Red Bull Junior

Garcia: hard work ahead at Red Bull Junior Formula Nissan champion Antonio Garcia, who signed to race for Red Bull Junior in 2001 last week, admits he will have to work hard to find success in his new category. The 20-year old Spaniard told SportsYa! [translated]: "The fact of being able to drive in a team with aspirations of victory, as it is with Red Bull Junior, is a very great challenge, but since I began in karting my goal is Formula One, and this one is the penultimate step that there is to make." He added: "The change that is supposed to happen from the Telefonica Open to F3000 is very great. The car is also very different and the atmosphere can weigh much if it has not been prepared well in all the aspects. I have taken an important step towards Formula One, but there is still enough work left ahead." Garcia was initially expected to graduate with Adrian Campos Motorsport into Euro F3000, but instead he signed a contract with Red Bull Junior. His chance of racing for the team depended on whether Enrique Bernoldi found an F1 seat or not, but when the contract deadline of 20th December was reached, Red Bull decided they did not want to let Garcia go. The Spaniard will partner Patrick Friesacher in the team next year. Bernoldi's future is unclear at present.

 

December 27th 2000 - International F3000:

Melo plans to stay in F3000 Brazilian Jaime Melo Jr plans to race on in International F3000, despite losing his drive at Petrobras Junior in favour of newcomers Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico (see separate story above). According to F3000 Today, Melo and his sponsors are confident about his future in the series, although he has not yet been linked to any team. Melo said [translated]: "It is a shame to leave Petrobras Junior because I was accustomed with all the members of the team and in 2001 it would be its year of fighting for the title. But unhappily not everything happens in the way that you want…" Another driver previously in the frame for a Petrobras Junior seat, SudAm F3 champion Vitor Meira, has been testing an IRL chassis for Panther Racing at Texas this month, and looks set to join the US series. He told SportsYa! [translated]: "I am sure that the IRL is a good open door and I have a good possibility of entering. The category is growing and its directors give a very important chance for the new pilots with aspirations to enter." Meira also claimed he is not interested in racing in Indy Lights.

 

December 23rd 2000 - International F3000/Euro F3000:

Argentinian F3000 team postponed until 2002 The proposed new Argentinian Formula 3000 team will not race until 2002 at the earliest now, reveals our Spanish correspondant Jose Ramon Galan. Instead the outfit will reportedly back a car in Formula Palmer Audi next year, with SudAm F3 driver Mariano Altuna at the wheel. The Argentinian tested an F3000 chassis for Nordic Racing this winter. The plan is to get Altuna's English up to scratch and give him the experience to graduate with the team to either International or Euro F3000 in 2002. The Argentinian project was announced early this year, with the initial plan being to bring Brian Smith back to F3000. The team was set up by TC2000 team owner Hugo Cuervo and chassis builder Christian Avila.

 

December 23rd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Felipe Massa

Massa turned down other F3000 and F3 offers New Draco Racing signing Felipe Massa became a hot prospect after clinching both the Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault titles recently. Last Tuesday he was officially announced as a Draco Racing driver, alongside Luca Vacis. However, according to Zaz.com.br, the Sao Paolo native was approached by both ADM and Team Ghinzani for Euro F3000 drives, along with a number of F3 teams. German F3 team KMS, which took new Astromega F3000 signing Giorgio Pantano to the title this year, offered Massa a drive, while he was also linked to British F3 drives with Manor Motorsport and RC Motorsport. He studied these proposals before choosing to race for Draco, the Italian outfit run by Adriano and Nadia Morini. Massa said: "I find that I made the best [decision] for my career. I considered the other alternatives, but the package of Draco was more attractive." If he wins the Euro F3000 championship, a real possibility when his testing form is considered, Massa will automatically qualify for a superlicence, enabling him to move up to F1. One of the Draco bosses commented: "I followed Massa closely this year and there is no doubt that he is one of the most promising names of the new generation. We had two tests with him, in Valencia and Vallelunga, and the results only confirmed my initial opinion. He adapted himself easily and he turned in fast laps immediately." Massa is to attend the Caslino d'Erba, near Milan, to work on his fitness ahead of his category change. He will be advised by Professor Cecarelli, an specialist in racing driver fitness. Draco will officially present their driver pairing and sponsors in February.

 

December 23rd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Euro F3000 collective testing starts in February The first collective test session after the winter will be in February at Vallelunga, according to Zaz.com.br. The test is the first of three 2-day meetings before the championship commences. Unofficial testing will also take place in January, with Draco's Felipe Massa due to be in action in the second half of the month.

 

December 23rd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Vallelunga set to host Euro F3000 opener The Italian circuit of Vallelunga will host the opening round of next year's Euro F3000 championship, according to Zaz.com.br. The eight round series, formerly F3000 Italia, will start at the Rome circuit on 22nd April. There will apparently be an addditional non-championship race in Holland. A similar race was held this year at Assen, although plans for it to become a championship round from 2001 were scuppered by noise restriction rules. It is unclear whether the Holland race next year, unconfirmed at present, will be held at Assen.

 

December 23rd 2000 - International F3000:

Wilson (left) advises Pendlebury (centre) about the FPA car

Wilson seeks F1 test deal for 2002 Formula 3000 frontrunner Justin Wilson hopes to be offered an F1 testing contract in 12 months time, according to an article in the Daily Mail. Wilson is expected to be a title contender next year, his third season of F3000. He will remain with Nordic Racing, the team he raced with to fifth overall this year. Wilson, laughably referred to as "Julian Wilson" in the article, was on hand along with Topi Serjala at Bedford Autodrome (left) to help journalist Richard Pendlebury adapt to Formula Palmer Audi machinery on a novice drivers test day. Wilson won the inaugural FPA championship in 1998, in the process winning a prize F3000 drive with Astromega for 1999.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Reynard and Dallara fight Lola for new F3000 chassis contract Reynard and Dallara are set to compete with Lola for the contract to build the new International F3000 chassis that will be used from 2002. Lola secured the previous two contracts since F3000 became a one-make formula in 1996, building the T96/50 (1996-1998) and the current B99/50 used since 1999. The contract is up for renewal at the end of next season, and will be fought for by the sport's three biggest constructors. Lola boss Martin Birrane believes his company deserves to retain the deal. He told Autosport: "We have already started designing a car. All we can be confident about is that we will bid, you can never be sure about winning. But we are ready. We've been catering for F3000 for some time and 90% of the people involved say we do a fantastic job." A Reynard spokeswoman confirmed with Autosport that the company, best known for their successful domination of Champ Cars, will definitely launch a bid. Reynard were the dominant force in F3000 before the one-make rules came in, and at the time were angry that Lola, struggling in the series, were awarded the initial contract. Next year Reynard will be supplying the chassis for the new International Single Seater Challenge, a series pitched at a level below F3000. Dallara, the company which dominates F3 chassis construction and builds successful IRL chassis, is also keen to build an F3000 car. Sales and Marketing manager Nick Langley said: "We're as good as anybody." The Italian firm built one F3000 chassis in the 1980s, the Dallara 3087, which saw little success with Euroventurini and Forti Corse between 1986 and 1987.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Garcia signs for Red Bull Junior Formula Nissan champion Antonio Garcia has signed to partner Patrick Friesacher at Red Bull Junior, reveals our Spanish correspondant Jose Ramon Galan. Spaniard Garcia was reported to have signed a five-year deal with Helmut Marko earlier in the winter after testing for the team (left). It now emerges that he had a clause in his contract which said that if he wasn't confirmed by the 20th December, he would be released. Red Bull Junior didn't want to lose him, so they have confirmed him as their second nominated driver for 2001. The news means that Enrique Bernoldi will part with the team, despite previously claiming that he will be a Red Bull driver next year. This increases the strong speculation that Bernoldi will race for Prost in F1 next year. The news that PSN will sponsor the team means that Gaston Mazzacane is more likely, however.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Manning and Maslov stay at Arden Former All-Japan F3 champion Darren Manning has re-signed to Arden Team Russia for a second F3000 campaign, reveals Autosport. Manning raced to 8th overall in this year's standings for the team, and also competed in a couple of Italian F3000 outings at the end of the year, winning at Enna. It has also been confirmed that Russian backmarker Viktor Maslov will remain with Arden, which was widely assumed before due to the sponsorship he brings to the team. Team boss and former racer Christian Horner is confident that Manning will be a title contender in 2001. He told Autosport: "With Darren the plan was always for a two-year programme. He had a bit of a rollercoaster this year, but put in some good performances. He continued that form in the November tests and should be a top contender."

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Astromega denied second team Belgian outfit Team Astromega will not be permitted to take up the final team slot in International F3000 next season. Astromega had bought the equipment of McLaren's outfit and were considering running a second team in the series. Although they had drivers lined up for the new squad according to Motoring News, they would only be permitted to run two teams if there was a unanimous vote from rival operations. Reportedly there were two teams objecting to the application. It is now unclear whether Astromega will set up a team in Euro F3000 instead, which was announced as a possibility earlier this winter. Also unclear is who will take the remaining entry for International F3000 in 2001. Only fourteen teams were announced in an FIA press release on December 1st, since F3000 Italia Teams champion Arden turned down the chance to run a second team and no new teams applied for a series entry.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

PSN set to sponsor Prost junior team TV network PSN (Pan-American Sport Network) looks increasingly likely to replace Gauloises as the main sponsor of Prost's junior team, previously known as Apomatox before the Prost affiliation saw it renamed Gauloises Formula. It was announced today that PSN will sponsor the Prost F1 team in 2001. Earlier reports in Mexico let the cat out of the bag regarding PSN's involvement. The reports stated that Indy Lights driver Luis Diaz, who tested for Prost junior in France, could race for the F3000 team if he could find money to supplement PSN's sponsorship. It is unclear which of the three likely candidates, Sebastien Bourdais, Christian Murchison and Diaz, will get the two F3000 drives available.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Pizzonia still set for F3000 British F3 champion Antonio Pizzonia still intends to compete in F3000 next year, despite the fact that no deal is done and that he is expecting to sign an F1 test deal in January. Speaking in an Autosport Q&A session, the Amazonian was asked: "Having driven for two different F1 teams [Benetton and Arrows], do you think it might be difficult to motivate yourself now if you stepped back to Formula 3000?" He replied: "Not really because like I said I’m not planning to jump any steps and I think F3000 is still an important step for me. I know people say the car is not great, but I’m sure I would learn a lot and learn the tracks and be ready to do Formula 1 in 2002. But we have something in the bag outside of F3000, which will be a big surprise for everyone. We haven’t signed anything yet, but it should be announced in January." Pizzonia's most likely destination for his F3000 programme is Petrobras Junior, for whom he has already tested for this winter.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Champ Car newcomer Wilson praises F3000 Former F3000 frontrunner Max Wilson praised F3000 in an interview with Brad Allen on Seventh Gear. The Brazilian, racing for the new Sigma Autosport team in 2001, said: "My opinion is that the series is so competitive, so strong and if somebody are doing well there, you really pay attention to those guys. Because if they are doing well in F3000, they probably are very good drivers. I don't see, as far as I know, other championships that are as strong as F3000." Wilson raced in F3000 between 1997 and 1999 for Edenbridge and Petrobras Junior.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Ecclestone demands Monza changes FOCA president Bernie Ecclestone has written to Monza's management company to push through improvements ahead of next year's Italian GP, which also sees International F3000 return to the circuit. Ecclestone wants a new paddock for the F3000 and Porsche Supercup races to bring Monza in line with other tracks, along with improved security and parking.

 

December 21st 2000 - International F3000:

Pantano and Raikkönen watched by Ferrari German F3 champion Giorgio Pantano and Sauber F1 newcomer Kimi Raikkönen have been selected by Ferrari as possible future targets for Ferrari, reveals Autosport. According to Italian sources, Ferrari wants young drivers on their books for when current drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello retire. Ferrari approached F3000 rookie sensation Fernando Alonso, but were beaten to a long-term deal by Flavio Briatore of Benetton. Pantano is set to race for Team Astromega in F3000 next year. He has already signed a contract, but is holding out for an F1 deal.

 

December 19th 2000 - International F3000:

Murchison testing at Estoril in November

Murchison linked to Prost F3000 & F1 future Formula Holden runner-up Christian Murchison has been offered a drive with the Prost F3000 team in 2001, providing he can find a US$2 million sponsor to pay for the deal. Speaking to Timesport, Alain Prost said, "Normally such a yearly deal in the multi-million-dollar world of motor racing would cost a sponsor at least US$10 million and above." He added: "I prefer to see the amount as the start of a long-term investment, where they can first come in and get to see the amount of exposure they will get. And then, we can work out a long-term plan." 20 year old Murchison, a Singaporean now based in Australia, is hopeful of finding a Singaporean sponsor, which would reportedly also have its name on the F1 cars. Prost believes Murchison could go on to race for him in F1 if he can prove himself in F3000. He said: "Christian has the potential to make it - but first he has to get into F3000." Today a Prost spokeswoman played down the story linking Murchison to the F1 team and another rumour that Gaston Mazzacane has already been signed: "There is no foundation to that. We will announce our plans for next season in the first week of the New Year." Murchison has already tested for Gauloises Formula (at Hungary and then in Estoril in November - pictured above), Team Astromega and Red Bull Junior this year. He was expected to race for the latter team in the cancelled Autumn Cup four-race mini-series. Murchison took the title of "Rookie of the Year" in Formula Holden this season with NRC Racing, having graduated to the series for old F3000 cars from Australian Formula Ford. Today's news leaves the future of Sebastien Bourdais and Luis Diaz unclear. Bourdais was expected to remain with the Prost junior team for a second season, while Indy Lights driver Diaz looked set to race for the team if he could bring sponsorship to add to the PSN money reportedly funding the team next season. In other Prost news, the previously unidentified driver testing for the F1 team last week was former Promotion Class French F3 driver Xavier Armant. (Sources: ZoomGP.com / Autosport online / BBC Ceefax / ITV Teletext, Photo © www.christianmurchison.com)

 

December 19th 2000 - International F3000:

Brown explains Jordan move Former McLaren F3000 team boss David Brown explained that he felt F3000 was not enough of a technical challenge, prompting his move to the Jordan F1 team. Speaking to Autosport online in a Q&A session he said: "Formula 3000 was an opportunity for me to do something rather than just engineering and it gave me a chance to run my own racing team, which is something I have always wanted to do, but also run my own team while McLaren sorted out the funding. Which are rather nice and unique circumstances. It gave me a great insight into far more facets of motor racing than I have ever experienced before. But the nature of Formula 3000 is that it is not particularly exciting technically and I felt that running a team was fine, but I wasn’t going to go any further than doing that inside McLaren. So when Eddie [Jordan] phoned me up and offered me a place in his team I thought: ‘that sounds just like the sort of thing I want to do.’ It’s different from what I’ve done before and so far it seems to be working OK."

 

December 19th 2000 - International F3000:

Coca-Cola plan F1 move According to The Sun newspaper, Coca-Cola are set to enter F1 as a title sponsor. The drinks giant is planning to spend $52 million to get into the sport. Coca-Cola extended its deal to sponsor F3000 team Nordic Racing earlier this year. The initial deal which saw Justin Wilson's car adorned with the distinctive logo was seen as a "foot in the water" before a possible move into either F1 team or series sponsorship. A spokesperson for the company said: "We know that motorsport is exceptionally popular within our division."

 

December 17th 2000 - Euro F3000:

Vacis signs for Draco Draco Racing has become the first team to sign two drivers for the inaugural Euro F3000 championship (nee F3000 Italia). Italy's Luca Vacis will partner Brazil's Felipe Massa at the Italian team. Former Formula Renault driver Vacis struggled in this season's Italian F3000 series with Team Ghinzani.

 

December 17th 2000 - International F3000:

F3000 beckons as Pantano loses Prost chance It is looking increasingly likely that German F3 champion Giorgio Pantano will race for Astromega in F3000 next year. The Italian has signed to race for the team, but has an escape clause in case he should be given a Formula 1 race or test deal. One of his biggest opportunities was believed to be with Prost, but according to Alpha F1, he had contractual disagreements with the team and therefore failed to test in Barcelona, almost certainly ruling out any chance of partnering Jean Alesi at the French squad next year.

 

December 17th 2000 - Euro F3000:

More Vallelunga test times An update to the times from the Vallelunga private Euro F3000 testing last week, from Prorace: on the 14/12/00, Alessandro Piccolo set a time of 1m05:37, while Diego Romanini set a time of 1:07.71. Both Italians were driving for Sighinolfi Autoracing, who were reportedly very satisfied with their young drivers. Full times are here.

 

December 17th 2000 - Euro F3000:

Massa targeted by Briatore for Benetton According to Prorace, Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault 2000 champion Felipe Massa was approached between his two title clinching races at Valencia by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore. The Italian wanted to run the Brazilian driver in British F3 next season, and possibly give him a role as a F1 test driver. However, Massa has a contract with his managers, Ricardo Tedeschi and Adrian Morini, which means he will honour his decision to race for Draco in next year's Euro F3000 championship.

 

December 17th 2000 - International F3000:

Couto given Dale Coyne Racing chance Macau Grand Prix winner and F3000 veteran Andre Couto is to be given a Champ Car test with Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in January. The Macanese driver told Autosport online: "I’m anxious to take advantage of this great opportunity. The Coyne Team is giving me the chance and I want to execute a professional job to impress." Dale Coyne Racing contacted Couto took in Japan, while he was testing for Formula Nippon team Morinaga Nova at Motegi. Couto added: "A representative of the team contacted my father, who was with me at the time, to know if I was available to accept the invitation. My father told them we could talk at a later date, and today they contacted us to confirm the test drive, and our answer was positive. I hope to take advantage of all the opportunities. Macau has been very supportive, and I know I can count on them in the future. I don’t want to go over my head, or make a quick decision."

 

December 17th 2000 - International F3000:

Watt targets Euro touring Honda drive Former F3000 frontrunner Jason Watt has set his sights on a drive in the FIA European Super Touring series next year. The Dane, paralysed from the waist down, was hoping for a Peugeot drive in the British series, but that seems unlikely after Peugeot announced three British drivers. Now Watt's best chance lies with JAS Engineering, according to Autosport online. The team ran him in the Class One International Touring Car series in 1996. Watt explained: "They're going to run two cars for Gabriele Tarquini and Peter Kox, but they have three 2000-spec machines altogether on their hands. I have had talks with them and they say they'd love to run me in the third car. Obviously it all comes down to funding in the end, but if we can find it between us, then I'll be doing that. That's what I'm hoping for at the moment. My results weren't so good with JAS before, but they knew what machinery I had at my disposal, so they were still impressed with what I did." Watt is hoping to confirm a deal in the new year but he is also watching developments in the BTCC. He added: "I'm still keen on racing in the UK again. Obviously the series isn't as good as it used to be at the moment, but I think it will be good again soon. It would be good to be in it from the start."

 

December 14th 2000 - Euro F3000:

Biagi tops private testing at Vallelunga Private testing took place today at Vallelunga ahead of the 2001 Euro F3000 championship. Veteran driver Thomas Biagi set the quickest released time with 1m04.87s for GP Racing, ahead of new Draco signing Felipe Massa and Monaco Motorsport's Gianluca Calcagni. International series regular Fabrizio Gollin tested for GP Racing. Among the other drivers present were former Superformula driver Filippo Francioni and sportscar driver Marco Zadra with Monaco Motorsport, along with Italian Formula Renault frontrunner Alex Piccolo and Diego Romanini at Sighinolfi. Times are here

 

December 14th 2000 - International F3000:

Fernando Alonso

Alonso sensational in superlicence bid F3000 rookie race winner Fernando Alonso continued testing with Benetton today, in a bid to secure a superlicence for the 2001 season. It now looks almost certain that Minardi, who are not taking part in testing, will run the 19-year old Spaniard next season. Alonso was a remarkable 2nd quickest (1m21.48s) in Barcelona today, just a few tenths behind Benetton newcomer Jenson Button (1:21.20). In the process the former Astromega pilot outpaced other more experienced drivers including Juan Montoya, Marc Gene, Luciano Burti and Jean Alesi. Button's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella only drove in the morning session, setting a time of 1:23.71. A Minardi spokeswoman confirmed the reason behind 2000 season test driver Alonso's participation in the Spanish tests: "Benetton agreed to put some kilometres on Alonso to get the superlicence." He completed 175km today, reportedly over half of the distance required to earn a superlicence.

 

December 14th 2000 - F3000 / Formula Nippon:

Hynes and Firman get PacWest Lights shootout chance Marc Hynes and Ralph Firman, F3000 and Formula Nippon drivers respectively, will be given the chance to fight for the remaining PacWest Indy Lights seat. A runoff between the pair and Jeff Simmons will take place on 13th-15th December at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Toyota Atlantic runner-up Dan Wheldon has already signed to race in the #1 car vacated by Scott Dixon. PacWest Lights team manager Paul "Ziggy" Harcus said: "The biggest thing we really have to do as far as off-season preparation is concerned for the 2001 season, is to find a driver for our 2nd Indy Lights seat. We’re conducting a 3-day ‘drive off’ at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix this week for the seat, and the drivers will be Jeff Simmons, Marc Hynes and Ralph Firman. Obviously coming off a championship last season, we have very high expectations for our team this year, and PacWest is once again committed to a two-car program. We’re excited about the abilities of all of these drivers, and hopefully one of them will step up and answer the challenge. I have no doubt that with the terrific staff we have on hand, we’re capable of putting together two of the most competitive cars on the track." (Source: Autoracing1). Brief WRT F3000 driver Hynes has declared his intentions to compete in either America or Japan should he fail to secure an F1 test drive role. He will soon test for BAR. Formula Nippon race winner Ralph Firman, who endured a difficult year in the G-Force chassis, was previously claimed to be seeking an IRL drive in the States. If his Indy Lights bid fails, it is said that he may return for another year in the Japanese series.

 

December 14th 2000 - International F3000:

Saelens, Bourdais and Sarrazin on Prost shortlist Speculation over Jean Alesi's F1 Prost team-mate for 2001 has increased, with sources at the team revealing that about ten drivers are being considered. Autosport reveals that these are believed to include F3000 stars David Saelens, Prost junior team driver Sebastien Bourdais, and Prost F1 tester and McLaren F3000 refugee Stephane Sarrazin. The remaining seven on the nine listed by Autosport are Giorgio Pantano, Fernando Alonso, Jonathan Cochet, Gaston Mazzacane, Ryo Fukuda and Enrique Bernoldi. Previous reports elsewhere also mentioned Soheil Ayari, Antonio Pizzonia and Ananda Mikola as candidates, who along with Oriol Servia and another unidentified contender mean a staggering 14 drivers have been linked to the seat. Bernoldi tested for Prost yesterday while CART driver Oriol Servia, along with Xavier Armant, tested today at Barcelona. Bernoldi is said to be attractive to Prost as he will bring backing from Red Bull, which is rumoured to be set to leave Sauber after this season. Mazzacane on the other hand would bring valuable sponsor money from PSN. The South American company is already set to sponsor Prost's F3000 team, possibly taking over from Gauloises as a main sponsor.

 

December 14th 2000 - International F3000:

Palmer drops FPA F3000 prize drive The prize for the winner of next year's Formula Palmer Audi championship will be a test in either F3000 or Indy Lights, rather than a fully funded season of F3000 as offered this year. Euro FPA champion Damien Faulkner turned down an F3000 drive in favour of a £100,000 cash prize which he put towards an Indy Lights budget for next season. Palmer explained the reasons for the changes: "We don't think we need a drive at the end of the championship because the prestige of winning it will get the winner to F3000 or Indy Lights or wherever they want to go, as Damien showed us this year." The restructuring of the FPA prize fund next year will mean £5000 will be available for the winner of each race. In 2001 FPA will largely return to Britain, with just a round at Spa-Francorchamps taking the drivers into Europe. Budgets have therefore been slashed from £125,000 to £85,000. The only FPA driver to actually be given a prize drive in F3000 was 1998 champion Justin Wilson. In 1999 the prize was not on offer.

 

December 14th 2000 - International F3000:

Fortec may run Formula Renault 2000 team Fortec Motorsport are considering a return to Formula Renault competition next year, in addition to their International F3000, Euro F3000 and British F3 teams. Team boss David Hayle told Autosport: "It is something we are definitely thinking about, but no plans have been put in place at the moment." Fortec last ran a junior team in the now defunct Formula Opel Euroseries in 1998 and 1999. The squad raced in Formula Renault before, with Bobby Verdon-Roe taking the 1991 title.

 

December 14th 2000 - International F3000:

SudAm F3 set to join F3000 on Brazilian GP bill International F3000 is likely to share the support bill of the Brazilian Grand Prix next March with the SudAm F3 championship, the series which produced such talents as Bruno Junqueira and Ricardo Zonta. Plans for the race are said to be "progressing well". SudAm F3 will have updated chassis regulations for next year, with only chassis built since 1995 being permitted.

 

December 13th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Motegi, Dec.2000 - Karthikeyan, Yoong, Couto

Karthikeyan and Couto set to join Yoong in Formula Nippon After last week's Joint Formula Nippon testing at Motegi, Narain Karthikeyan and Andre Couto look set to form an Asian trio (left, click here for full picture) with Alex Yoong in the series next year. Macau GP winner and F3000 veteran Couto impressed Morinaga Nova in the tests, finishing sixth overall. He is now expected to sign to race for the team. British F3 star Narain Karthikeyan only managed 36 laps with Impul due to an engine change on the second day. Satoshi Motoyama had run extensively to develop the car. Karthikeyan is said to have done enough to impress team principal Kazuyoshi Hoshino to be considered for a seat at Impul. Former F3000 driver Yoong impressed by setting third fastest time despite not running on the second day. The Malaysian will stay at Team Malaysia by Le Mans for a second season in 2001. Read the full press release here. (Source: Alex Yoong Press Office / http://alexyoong.com)

 

December 13th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Sundberg and Lechner seeking Formula Nippon drives Former Italian F3 champion and F3000 Italia driver Peter Sundberg is reportedly seeking a drive in Formula Nippon. According to the Alex Yoong Press Office, the Swede was spotted at Motegi for the official tests last week. Robert Lechner, an All-Japan F3 frontrunner from Austria, is also seeking a drive. The two drivers are yet more on a large list of Europeans looking into possibilities in Japan's premier series. Christijan Albers, Alex Muller, Dominik Schwager, Ben Collins and Sebastien Philippe were all in action at Motegi, while French F3 champion Jonathan Cochet and Jaguar test driver Tomas Scheckter are known to be seeking drives, despite not testing with DoCoMo Dandelion as originally announced.

 

December 13th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

5Zigen set to keep driver line-up Formula Nippon team 5Zigen is likely to keep its current driver line-up of Michael Krumm and Naoki Hattori next season, according to the Alex Yoong Press Office. German Krumm was the series runner-up this year behind the dominant Toranosuke Takagi. 5Zigen were not in action at the official Joint Testing at Motegi last week.

 

December 13th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Matsuda likely to pilot #1 Nakajima car Formula Nippon rookie Tsugio Matsuda looks set to remain at PIAA Nakajima Planning next season, driving the no.1 car vacated by CART-bound Toranosuke Takagi. (Source: Alex Yoong Press Office)

 

December 13th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Firman looking for IRL seat Formula Nippon race winner Ralph Firman is scouting around in the States for an Indy Racing League drive at the moment, reveals the Alex Yoong Press Office. The former British F3 champion could still remain in Formula Nippon if he fails to find a seat. This season Firman suffered a disappointing year with Morinaga Nova, driving the G-Force chassis.

 

December 13th 2000 - International F3000:

Ayari linked to Prost F1 seat Formula 3000 veteran Soheil Ayari is one of a number of candidates linked to the available seat at Prost's F1 team, according to Alpha F1. Other possibilities include Enrique Bernoldi and Oriol Servia, both testing for the team this week, along with Giorgio Pantano, Fernando Alonso, Antonio Pizzonia, Gaston Mazzacane and Ananda Mikola. Ayari has won two F3000 races in his four seasons in the series, although this year his relationship with Italian team Coloni collapsed and a move to WRT failed to improve his results.

 

December 13th 2000 - International F3000:

Alonso given Benetton tryout Formula 3000 race winner Fernando Alonso made a surprise appearance for Benetton today in testing at Barcelona. The Spaniard lapped in 1m23.010s (unofficial) when he drove after lunch, compared to Ralf Schumacher's Williams' best time of 1:20.457. Alonso outpaced both Prost drivers, Jean Alesi and Enrique Bernoldi. Giancarlo Fisichella was the fastest of the Benetton drivers on 1:20.911. Alonso's test fuels speculation that he may drive for a Minardi team bought by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore, or may otherwise be set to drive for Benetton in the future.

 

December 13th 2000 - International F3000:

Bernoldi tests for Prost Enrique Bernoldi tested for Prost at Barcelona today. The Brazilian F3000 driver set an unofficial time of 1m23.688s, compared to regular driver Jean Alesi's 1:23.329. Both cars trailed the field of Michelin teams, finishing 9th and 10th. Bernoldi was previously expected to race for Red Bull Junior in F3000 after his Sauber chances went, but now he is one of a number of possibilities at Prost (see separate story above).

 

December 13th 2000 - International F3000:

Sponsor threat to European Arrows team According to a report in the London press, Arrows F1 sponsor Eurobet is to withdraw its sponsorship of US$12 million, despite having a year left on its contract. The unconfirmed news would probably mean bad news for the European Arrows F3000 team which has Eurobet as its main sponsor. The partnership between European Racing and Arrows is continuing despite a rocky relationship this year, prompted by the refusal of F3000 rookie of the year Mark Webber to sign a testing contract with Tom Walkinshaw mid-season.

 

December 12th 2000 - F3000 Italia / Euro F3000:

Sperafico wins Bologna indoor F3000 sprint F3000 Italia champion Ricardo Sperafico won the Bologna Motorshow indoor F3000 Italia sprint by defeating Gabriele Lancieri in the final. Brazil's Sperafico therefore took first place in the final classification from Lancieri, Gianluca Calcagni and Thomas Biagi. In one of the semi-finals, Sperafico won from '99 winner Biagi, while Lancieri defeated Calcagni in the other. In the second final, to determine third position, Calcagni beat Biagi. Race details are also here.

 

December 12th 2000 - International F3000:

Luis Diaz testing at Lurcy-Levis

Diaz Gauloises Formula test photos Photos of Luis Diaz testing for Prost's junior team at Lurcy-Levis (left) last week are available at sporcar.com, here. See news story below of December 9th for the full details of the Indy Lights driver's test and strong chance of a drive in F3000 next season. Gauloises Formula are still running in Gauloises colours, despite the cigarette company sponsor being almost certain to quit F3000 next season along with F1. Mexico's Diaz may sign for the team as he would meet the requirements of apparent new sponsor PSN for a South American driver.

 

December 12th 2000 - International F3000:

Junqueira and Sears receive FIA awards This year's F3000 Drivers' champion Bruno Junqueira was awarded his trophy for clinching the title at the FIA Gala at the weekend. David Sears accepted the trophy for his Super Nova team securing the Teams' title.

 

December 12th 2000 - International F3000:

F3000 drivers in action at karting Masters A number of current and recent F3000 drivers were in action at the annual Elf Masters karting event in Paris-Bercy. Sebastien Bourdais won his stint in the three-part race for teams of three drivers representing their country. 1994 F3000 champion "Jules" Boullion won the final stint to secure victory for the best of the three French teams. Other F3000 stars in action included Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin, Norberto Fontana, Franck Lagorce and 1987 champion Stefano Modena. Jonathan Cochet, also planning to race in F3000 or Formula Nippon in 2001, was also competing.

 

December 12th 2000 - International F3000:

Alonso to Briatore-owned Minardi? Latest rumours claim that Benetton boss Flavio Briatore is going to buy the struggling Minardi team. According to Alpha F1, the team would become a junior team for Renault, which would give a chance to youngsters. Briatore is interested in F3000 sensation Fernando Alonso; recent reports claimed the Spaniard had signed a five year deal with Briatore, but not with the Benetton team itself. According to the latest report, Briatore would put the 19-year old Alonso in a seat at Minardi if the deal takes place.

 

December 12th 2000 - International F3000:

Bernoldi Prost test confirmed A Prost spokesman confirmed today that F3000 driver Enrique Bernoldi will be testing for the F1 team later in the week. In a surprise move, CART driver and former Indy Lights champion Oriol Servia will also test at Barcelona this week. Both drivers are being evaluated as a possible team-mate to Jean Alesi. Rumours say that giving Servia a test is an attempt by Alain Prost to convince Telefonica, the Spaniard's sponsor, to remain in F1 and back his team. Servia lost his CART ride after a promising debut season, and it appears Telefonica will not be able to provide him with a full budget for F1, but could fund another season in CART if Servia can find a seat.

 

December 12th 2000 - Euro F3000:

Massa takes Formula Renault double Brazilian Felipe Massa, who will race for Draco Racing in Euro F3000 next year, took both the Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault 2000 titles in Valencia, Spain, at the weekend. After the Formula Renault Finals, Cram Competition driver Massa told Eurosport: "[I'm] very, very happy. I'd like to thank everyone - my family, my team. We've had a great championship. Now I'm going back to Brazil to celebrate my two titles with my family. They'll remain in my memory for the rest of my life. It's the most beautiful Christmas present anyone could have, not only for me, but for my team who were just perfect this season." Massa finished first in the Eurocup on 140 points, ahead of Zwolsman (NL) 124, Matteo Grassotto (I) 116, and Richard Antinucci (USA) 108.

 

December 12th 2000 - International F3000:

Interlagos round under threat? The opening round of the International F3000 championship at Interlagos may be cancelled with Brazil set to outlaw tobacco advertising. The Brazilian GP weekend is under threat with congress expected to introduce the new law in the next few weeks. Murillo Salles, former President of the Brazilian Motorsport Council, said the race's future was in the hands of MPs. He added: "There are a lot of countries waiting to succeed Brazil." The Interlagos F3000 round on March 31st 2001 will be the first time the championship has ventured outside Europe. Non-championship Formula 3000 races have been held in Curacao in South America and Halifax, Canada, in the past, but the championship has never truly lived up to its "International" designation until now.

 

December 9th 2000 - International F3000:

Luis Diaz

Diaz set to join Prost F3000; PSN to sponsor team? Indy Lights driver Luis Diaz has emerged as a strong contender for a seat at Gauloises Formula, the Prost F3000 team, next year. The Mexican tested for the outfit at Lurcy-Levis in France last Tuesday, according to a Reforma article, another article on Sporcar.com (formerly netcar.com.mx) and Seventh Gear. The 23 year-old said it was a dream come true and that he didn't believe it when Jose Luis Caparroz, representative of Alain Prost, approached him in Houston and Vancouver about a ride in F3000. The team's new sponsor will apparently be TV network PSN, which is looking for a Latin American to drive one car. Gauloises were widely expected to quit F3000 next season along with F1, and now this looks almost certain. Diaz was still sceptical until the team gave him a plane ticket to France. He arrived at the track and garage and had a seat fitting, before proceeding to complete around 150 laps on the wet 2km course and set times near the track record. According to the articles, Diaz will interview with Prost next Friday, but according to Diaz, he will still need to bring some sponsorship with him, as PSN will not fund the entire car. Diaz could also drive in the Philippe Streiff's famous indoor kart race with some F1 and F3000 drivers next weekend. Gauloises Formula is set to be renamed next year, despite the former Apomatox outfit giving that name to the FIA for it's provisional entry list. Sebastien Bourdais is likely to remain with the team for a second year of F3000.

 

December 9th 2000 - International F3000:

Mikola signs for Astromega Indonesian driver Ananda Mikola has signed to partner Giorgio Pantano at Team Astromega for the 2001 season, reveals the team's website. Mikola raced for the struggling WRT outfit in this year's championship, doing well to qualify for each round but otherwise failing to make an impression. In his 1999 season of Italian F3000, with the John Village Automotive-run Edenbridge team, former Italian F3 driver Mikola showed much potential which he will hope to rekindle with the move to a top team. That season he even won on the road at Enna-Pergusa, only to be subsequently disqualified. German F3 champion Pantano will race for Astromega providing he does not find an F1 drive. At the moment the Italian is a possibility at Prost (see below), having previously tested for Benetton.

 

December 9th 2000 - International F3000:

Bernoldi, Pantano, Mikola to test Prost F3000 frontrunner Enrique Bernoldi is set to test for Prost, according to AlphaF1. He is to be joined by 2001 season Astromega drivers (see above) Giorgio Pantano and Ananda Mikola. Bernoldi's F1 chance seemed to have gone with Kimi Raikkonen finally getting a superlicence to race for Sauber, but now he has emerged as a possible candidate for a Prost seat.

 

December 9th 2000 - Euro F3000 / F3000 Italia:

Spoldi and de Bono on show for Durango at Bologna The Durango team will once again make their customary visit to the Bologna Motorshow to take part in the F3000 Italia (from next season Euro F3000) indoor sprint. Their drivers will be 2000 season pilot Michele Spoldi and newcomer Gabriele de Bono, who have both been testing for the team recently. Spoldi is a new appearance on this year's entry list; it appears he may be racing instead of Soheil Ayari. The action on Monday (11th) in area 48 of the show begins at 09:10 and ends at 16:15. (Source: Durango)

 

December 9th 2000 - International F3000:

New drinks sponsor for Fortec Another major drinks company will join Coca-Cola and Red Bull in sponsoring an F3000 team next season. N D Drinks UK Ltd., a subsidiary of Nutricia within the Royal Numico NV Group, the largest company in the world dedicated to human nutrition under the Extran brand, have teamed up with Fortec Motorsport Ltd for the 2001 season. Extran with sales of £30 million in Europe have decided to introduce their range of products in the UK, using motorsport to extend their brand image. The Extran Livery will be seen on the cars throughout the 2001 F3000 season. Fortec Motorsport Ltd. based in Daventry have apparently been giving Extran products to their drivers and team members in pre-season testing, and are extremely pleased with the outcome. Samples of Extran products and nutritional advice will be available at Fortec in the paddock area at all events. Fortec managing director David Hayle said: "We are very happy to have an association with Extran and to be able to use their products within the extremely competitive industry in which we work. Having tested the products with our drivers we hope this is just the beginning of a more involved long term relationship with them, to benefit both parties". It is unclear whether the Extran sponsorship will extend to Fortec's new Euro F3000 team in addition to the International F3000 outfit.

 

December 9th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Motoyama on top as Motegi testing ends Official Joint Formula Nippon testing at Motegi ended yesterday, with 1998 champion Satoshi Motoyama still topping the timesheets. The top 4 remained the same as for day 1, with Motoyama (Impul) leading from Ryo Michigami (Mooncraft), Alex Yoong (Team Malaysia by Le Mans) and Tsugio Matsuda (PIAA Nakajima). Andre Couto (Morinaga Nova) was the best of the European newcomers, in sixth. Narain Karthikeyan had his first test with Impul, ending up 16th. Times are here.

 

December 9th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Yoong stays with Le Mans Co. & joins Panoz for ALMS Malaysia's Alex Yoong has re-signed with Le Mans Company's second outfit, Team Malaysia by Le Mans. Yoong has also been signed to race for the Malaysia Panoz team in the first Asian round of the American Le Mans Series at Sepang next November. He was third quickest in Formula Nippon testing at Motegi which ended yesterday, having only driven on the first day. He told Crash.net: "We spent the morning session running on old tyres to get a good set-up. I am very pleased with the team and myself with the work done, as we were able to try a lot of new things on the car. We put on new tyres halfway through the afternoon session, but I set my time at the end when the tyres were already old." A Team Le Mans spokesman said: "Alex was very consistent throughout the four-hour test and, in the final hour, made 12 laps of 1min 35secs. He did not put a foot wrong all day and we'll look forward to a good new season." Yoong struggled in his first season of Formula Nippon, failing to score any points. He competed in Italian and International F3000 in 1999 with Monaco Motorsport.

 

December 7th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Large European contingent in Motegi Formula Nippon tests Official Formula Nippon testing at Motegi got underway today, with a number of European stars making their debut or returning to the series. Current F3000 pilots Christijan Albers (Cosmo Oil Cerumo) and Andre Couto (Morinaga Nova) were in action, along with former Oreca teammates Alex Muller (Morinaga Nova) and Dominik Schwager (PIAA Nakajima). Couto was previously stated to be testing for Le Mans Company, but the team are absent from the Motegi tests. Muller has raced in French and German F3 since his 1998 F3000 season, while fellow German Schwager raced in Formula Nippon in '99. Japanese F3 champion Sebastien Philippe tested for ARTA, while former Indy Lights and British F3 driver Ben Collins drove for DoCoMo Dandelion. Other drivers due to test include Tomas Scheckter and French F3 champion Jonathan Cochet, both with DoCoMo Dandelion. Scheckter previously announced that he will only compete in selected races in 2001, opting to concentrate on his Jaguar test driver role. British F3 frontrunner Narain Karthikeyan is also due to test for Impul. 1998 Formula Nippon champion Satoshi Motoyama topped the times on day 1 for the team. The two-day meeting ends tomorrow. Times are here. Results from Formula Nippon official site. Entry list provided thanks to Tooru Kitajima.

 

December 7th 2000 - International F3000:

Bernoldi to stay in F3000 now Sauber chance is gone Formula 3000 star Enrique Bernoldi will not race for Sauber in F1, since Kimi Raikkonen has been given a superlicence by the FIA. Bernoldi has stated that he will be a Red Bull driver in 2001, which now means he is set to race for a third season of F3000 with Red Bull Junior. Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson denied the decision to allow the Finn to race will devalue F3 and F3000: "I believe that Kimi is a special case and that he is ready for F1 right now, but that doesn’t make F3 or F3000 any less relevant for the majority of drivers. As I said, I personally believe Kimi is a special case and that’s why we feel so confident that he can make the jump successfully." British Formula Renault 2000 champion Raikkonen convinced the FIA he was ready for F1 in three days of testing at Jerez. It is unclear whether Bernoldi will continue his test driver role with Sauber.

 

December 7th 2000 - International F3000:

Pantano testing at Barcelona on October 2nd

Pantano signs for Astromega - but holds out for F1 deal German F3 champion Giorgio Pantano has signed to race for Team Astromega in next year's International F3000 series. However, the Italian's contract includes a get-out clause in case he finds an F1 drive, reveals Autosport. The F1 drive is likely to be with Prost, the team who agreed to give him a tryout. Like this year's Astromega sensation Fernando Alonso, he has been approached by Ferrari, and invited to visit them by Jean Todt. Pantano impressed in testing with Astromega recently (left), and emerged as a favourite for the seat. The 21-year old won the German F3 title for Team KMS in only his first full season of car racing, having competed in three Formula Nissan races and the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series in 1999. Of his hopes for next year he said: "We have been in talks with several Grand Prix teams, and there are three options still available, one for a race seat and three test drive roles. We should know more in just a few weeks. If the F1 race deal does not come off, I will try to win the F3000 championship. If it is possible or not I don't know. There are many drivers and a lot of factors to be quick there, but it is not too difficult to understand the car. It is more difficult than F3, you have more power, a bigger car and longer races, but we have the possibility to win."

 

December 7th 2000 - International F3000/Euro F3000:

Astromega may run second team Team Astromega could run two teams in International F3000 next season, reveals Autosport. A fact that escaped our attention is that the provisional entry list published by the FIA last week named only 14 teams that will enter; a 15th slot is still available. Alternatively Astromega could enter the inaugural Euro F3000 series instead. The Belgian squad have purchased the cars and equipment of McLaren's F3000 team which has quit the series. Team boss Sam Boyle said: "It is possible we could run a team for someone else, or we could use the equipment to join the Euro F3000 series [although Lola T96/50 chassis will be required rather than the current Lola B99/50]." Astromega were involved with a second team this year in Italian F3000, although Orbit Motorsport quit the series when the partnership broke down. If the team do run another squad in the International series, it will have to be entered under a different name.

 

December 7th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Couto to test for Le Mans Co. Macau Grand Prix winner Andre Couto will be testing for Formula Nippon team Le Mans Company imminently, reveals Autosport. The Macanese previously announced he planned to move to the series after a dismal third F3000 season with Gauloises Formula. Former Italian F3 runner-up Couto finally won the Macau F3 GP with Opel Team BSR this year, after making regular visits to the prestigious event.

 

December 7th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Hynes plans Formula Nippon or Indy Lights move Marc Hynes is looking at opportunities in both Formula Nippon and Indy Lights next year, if he fails in his bid to find an F1 test deal, according to Autosport. Hynes raced twice for WRT in F3000 this year, but his career stalled after taking the 1999 British F3 title. He will test for BAR as part of its new Driver Development Programme soon (see story of December 5th). The other driver to take part is expected to be either British F3 sensation Takuma Sato or French F3 frontrunner Ryo Fukuda.

 

December 7th 2000 - International F3000:

Faulkner explains Indy Lights decision Euro Formula Palmer Audi champion Damien Faulkner explained his decision to turn down a free season of Formula 3000 for a drive with Dorricott Racing in Indy Lights. Speaking to Autosport, the Irishman said: "I could have had a free drive in Formula 3000 as my prize for winning the [Euro FPA] championship this year, but I chose the Champ Car route because I believe the F1 way is extremely political. Also, unless you are with a top F3000 team like Super Nova, which I wouldn't have been, it is very difficult to get anywhere. Dorricott is probably the best team in Indy Lights and offers me the greatest opportunity to race and win at a high level. It is the best decision I could have made."

 

December 5th 2000 - International F3000:

Horner returns to action in test Christian Horner returned to action in a shakedown test with his Arden Team Russia outfit two weeks ago, reveals last week's Motoring News. The Brit was driving at Weston airfield, near the team's Banbury base, but has no plans to resume racing. Horner turned to team management after racing for the Arden squad in 1997 and 1998. Meanwhile, current Arden driver Darren Manning was due to test the car at RAF Honington, but the outing was cancelled due to heavy rain.

 

December 5th 2000 - International F3000:

Jensen looking for mixture of speed and experience Kid Jensen Racing boss David Jensen has revealed that no drivers have yet been chosen for next year, although this year's pilots Andrea Piccini and Bas Leinders have not been retained. Speaking in an Autosport online Question & Answer session, the DJ said: "We don’t know [the driver line-up] yet. It’s all a bit like playing poker. We tested lots of people at Barcelona and Jerez – Jonathan Cochet, Justin Keen and Damien Faulkner. Ideally we’d like a very keen and quick younger driver, but he must be teamed up with someone who has a bit more experience." Faulkner has already been ruled out as he will race in Indy Lights next year. Asked how he felt about the confirmation from the FIA that the team could continue in 2001, Jensen said: "Relief and excitement. We’ve had a very difficult few months waiting to see if we were going to be included of the entry list for next year so it’s great to finally have our place confirmed. Its also really good for Simon Barker who has assembled a really great bunch of guys who all worked really hard this year. It’s just a shame that our year was hampered by not being able to qualify at the top of the grid and unfortunately in F3000 it’s all about qualifying. Now we just need to concentrate on getting things sorted out for next year. We’re competing with everyone else for drivers and we need to choose quite carefully to make sure we don’t have a repeat of this year." Asked what went wrong this season, where the team only scored three points and finished outside the top 12, Jensen said: "I don’t know, I really don’t know. Qualifying was definitely our main problem. You have some drivers who qualify well and others that race well. Not to take anything away from Bas and Andrea, but we’re going to start with a clean sheet for next year. It’s actually very strange because Bas is a good racing driver and he has a lot of experience from winning the German F3 championship and running in F3000."

 

December 5th 2000 - International F3000:

Hynes given "first and best" career break by BAR Former British F3 champion Marc Hynes has been given a chance to resurrect his stalled career by British American Racing. Hynes will drive at Barcelona in two weeks' time as part of BAR's Driver Development Programme. It will be the sometime WRT F3000 driver's second run in an F1 car, after testing for Williams in 1997 as his prize for winning the Formula Renault championship. At the end of last year a testing deal with BAR looked to be in the pipeline. Hynes said: "I kept in touch with British American Racing and got the deal when they decided to run some young drivers. The last year seems to have flown by and I feel ready for a run in a Formula 1 car. I've done some running in an F3 car at Monza to get up to speed again, and it felt like I hadn't been away." Hynes saw two F3 rivals he beat in 1999 move up to F1, but he is confident he can prove himself now he has been given a chance: "I beat [Luciano] Burti and [Jenson] Button in Formula 3 so there is no reason why I cannot do a good job in a Grand Prix car. Button in particular coped well with all the pressures this season and I am confident I can do the same. This is the first big break of my career and it's also the best one. I want to get out there and learn, and that is what the test is all about. If I do a good job who knows where this will take me, but I feel I have got a lot to offer." Hynes and a yet to be named second driver will work in conjunction with BAR's test team at Barcelona from December 18-20 to evaluate technical ability and feedback. After winning the '97 Formula Renault title, Hynes moved into British F3 with Promatecme where he was overshadowed by team-mate Enrique Bernoldi. A move to the graduating Manor Motorsport saw him crowned the surprise champion last year, seeing off the challenge of Burti. His paltry reward was a shootout for Arden's Italian F3000 seat, which he lost to Warren Hughes, and a race-by-race deal with International F3000 backmarkers WRT.

 

December 5th 2000 - International F3000:

Manning's F1 future uncertain Former Japanese F3 champion Darren Manning's future as BAR test driver looks to be up in the air with the team's signing of Formula Ford star Anthony Davidson. Davidson, 21, won the Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award on Sunday, having made his car racing debut at the end of 1999. This year he was third in the British Zetec FF series, also winning the prestigious Formula Ford Festival. He is expected to be given eight tests with the team in a role as a "junior test driver". But the signing, and the team's testing of other drivers in the new Driver Development Programme (see story above), means Arden F3000 driver Manning and former F3000 driver Patrick Lemarie's roles as test drivers look to be under threat. Manning is due to test for three days in Spain this week and again in January.

 

December 3rd 2000 - International F3000:

Sperafico testing at Barcelona in November

Sperafico close to Petrobras seat Reigning Italian F3000 champion Ricardo Sperafico (left) is close to joining Petrobras Junior next season. The team which took Bruno Junqueira to this year's title has reportedly already decided on its drivers for the 2001 campaign, backing up earlier rumours that Sperafico and British F3 champion Antonio Pizzonia are the favourites for the seat. Petrobras Junior, the junior team of WilliamsF1, apparently wanted to give Sperafico the F1 test driver position vacated by Junqueira, although they are also keen on Pizzonia. Rumours suggest however that the Amazonian, Pizzonia, could join McLaren's test team alongside Alex Wurz. Sperafico looks set to sign as one member of the Brazilian F3000 line-up, but will need to complete his budget. At present he has found half of the US$600,000 necessary. News supplied by our French correspondant Fred Breton In other news, Prorace claims that Sperafico will be testing for Minardi at Valencia in Spain for two days next week. It is unclear whether this is in addition to, or instead of, the previously reported two day test at Barcelona on 12th-14th December. This may have something to do with Sperafico's participation in the Bologna Motorshow F3000 Italia sprint on December 11th.

 

December 3rd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Durango test Italians at Vallelunga Durango Benetton Junior tested four drivers with its Euro F3000 squad at Vallelunga recently, news thanks to our French correspondant Fred Breton (Woodcote F3000). Italians "Babalus" and Michele Spoldi shared the best time of 1m06.2 secs, leading Gabriele Lancieri (1:06.4) and rookie Gabriele de Bono (1:07.1). Despite changing conditions from dry to wet, each driver completed 50 or more laps, except for "Babalus" who set his time after just six laps and on used tyres. Newcomer de Bono is set to make his F3000 competition debut at the Bologna Motorshow F3000 Italia sprint this month.

 

December 3rd 2000 - Italian F3000:

Pavicevic quits single seaters for Aussie V8s Australian Andrej Pavicevic is reportedly seeking a drive in the booming V8 Supercar series in his home country, after a disastrous season in Italian F3000, according to Hot Open Wheelers. Driving for Durango Benetton Junior, Pavicevic took pole for the opening race, but his season went downhill from then on, with a series of incidents and retirements and the failure to score a single point. The highlight of his year was a fourth place at Assen, but he wasn't rewarded with any points as the race was a non-championship event. He graduated to International F3000 in 1999 with Fortec, having impressed with the team in the second half of the 1998 British F3 championship, his first year of single seaters. In retrospect the move was too big a jump, especially considering the huge fields of that season - Pavicevic did well to qualify on four occasions. A move to the less competitive Italian series should have brought him results, but now he seems to have turned his back on single seaters, like many other Australians who fail to find the money to compete abroad.

 

December 3rd 2000 - International F3000:

Edenbridge seal BMW BTCC deal Former F3000 team Edenbridge Racing will field a pair of BMW 320i E36s in the production class of next year's British Touring Car series. The cars are currently being prepared by BMW specialists Team Rafanelli. Edenbridge boss Peter Briggs, the man behind the three previous failed attempts to establish a British F3000 series, said: "It's a very sensibly priced package to contest. The class has an international flavour - you can go and race in Europe or Macau [at the Guia event] - and I think it's just a fantastic formula." He denied his old F3000 or F3 drivers would be in contention for a seat: "We're in discussions with drivers already, but we're not going to have Tom Kristensen and Olly Gavin out there. We would like some young drivers if possible, because they should be looking at touring cars as a career, rather than this single-seater mindset which, most of the time, leads nowhere." Edenbridge made their F3000 debut in 1999, but pulled out when their partnership with European Formula collapsed mid-way through 1999. In the latter season Edenbridge also entered Italian F3000 with a team operated by John Village Automotive, taking second in the championship with South Africa's Werner Lupberger.

 

December 2nd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Felipe Massa, Formula Renault 2000

Massa signs for Draco Draco Racing boss Adriano Morini has confirmed that Formula Renault Eurocup star Felipe Massa will race for the Italian squad in Euro F3000 next season. The Brazilian topped both days of official Euro F3000 testing at Valencia last month. Sao Paulo-born Massa, 19, became the 1999 Brazilian Formula Chevrolet champion before joining Formula Renault 2000 team Cram Competition (left) this year for the Italian and European series, where he emerged as the latest Brazilian sensation.

 

December 2nd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Uboldi plans to move family team into Euro F3000 Davide Uboldi, the 2000 Italian F3 champion, plans a graduation to the Euro F3000 championship, according to the Italian press, news thanks to our French correspondant Fred Breton (Woodcote F3000). Uboldi intends to enter with his own Uboldi Corse squad, but if it is not possible for the team to set up an F3000 operation, the Italian will enter for another team. Uboldi's Italian F3 title is less significant than in previous years, since the series suffered from tiny grids.

 

December 2nd 2000 - International F3000:

Durango return to International series; KJR and KTR to continue Durango will return to International F3000 next year after spending this season as Durango Benetton Junior in Italian F3000. The Italian squad have been announced as the 15th team on the provisional entry list published by the FIA yesterday (see story below). It is unclear whether Durango will operate a second team in Euro F3000, although it seems likely as they attended the official tests in Valencia last month. In 1999 they operated two teams, before they decided to devote all their resources to the Italian championship. Kid Jensen Racing and KTR (Keerbergs Transport Racing) have also secured International F3000 entries for next season, despite finishing outside the top 12 teams. Kurt Mollekens' KTR squad has submitted its name as "KTR", not "Witmeur KTR" as it has been known for the past two seasons. The final three 2001 entries were available to the winner of the Italian F3000 series and new teams, but F3000 Italia Teams champion Arden Team Russia decided against running two squads in the premier series.

 

December 2nd 2000 - International F3000:

FIA release provisional entry list The FIA published the provisional entry list for next season's International F3000 championship yesterday. The main surprise was the unexpected return of veteran team Durango to the series (see story above). The allegiance between Arrows and European Racing looks set to continue, despite stories earlier in the year that the team were close to splitting. Likewise, Fortec will remain in the series, despite unsubstantiated rumours their entry would be taken over by a new Argentinian team. A previous ruling by the FIA prevented teams from selling their entries in any case. No drivers have yet been nominated by teams, despite Nordic's earlier signing of Justin Wilson and Tomas Enge and Red Bull Junior's signing of Patrick Friesacher. In accordance with Article 33.b. of the 2001 Formula 3000 Sporting Regulations, drivers may be nominated and/or changed up until 15 days prior the the start of the first Event of the Championship. Team names can also be changed before the season begins; Prost's junior team Gauloises Formula is expected to be renamed if its title sponsor pulls out as expected. The full list is below, while the 2001 silly season page has been updated accordingly.

Int'l F3000 provisional entries, FIA 1/12/00

No.

Driver

Team

1

TBA

SUPER NOVA RACING LTD

2

TBA

SUPER NOVA RACING LTD

3

TBA

PETROBRAS JUNIOR TEAM

4

TBA

PETROBRAS JUNIOR TEAM

5

TBA

TEAM ASTROMEGA

6

TBA

TEAM ASTROMEGA

7

TBA

EUROPEAN ARROWS F3000

8

TBA

EUROPEAN ARROWS F3000

9

TBA

COCA-COLA NORDIC RACING

10

TBA

COCA-COLA NORDIC RACING

11

TBA

GAULOISES FORMULA

12

TBA

GAULOISES FORMULA

15

TBA

ARDEN TEAM RUSSIA

16

TBA

ARDEN TEAM RUSSIA

17

TBA

RED BULL JUNIOR TEAM – RSM MARKO

18

TBA

RED BULL JUNIOR TEAM – RSM MARKO

19

TBA

COLONI F3000

20

TBA

COLONI F3000

21

TBA

DAMS

22

TBA

DAMS

23

TBA

FORTEC MOTORSPORT LTD

24

TBA

FORTEC MOTORSPORT LTD

25

TBA

KTR

26

TBA

KTR

27

TBA

KID JENSEN RACING

28

TBA

KID JENSEN RACING

29

TBA

DURANGO FORMULA SRL

30

TBA

DURANGO FORMULA SRL

 

December 2nd 2000 - F3000 Italia:

Bologna Motorshow indoor track, (c) www.motorshow.it

Bologna F3000 sprint entries announced; Sperafico to race The drivers who will take part in the Indoor F3000 Italia (renamed Euro F3000 from next year) sprint event at the Bologna Motorshow have been announced (see list below). The sprint races for the Lola T96/50 will take place on December 11th in area 48 of the show, on a 584 metre circuit (left, click here for full picture) with one extra bend and one less straight for this year. Amongst the drivers, largely comprised of the Italian F3000 field, will be 2000 champion Ricardo Sperafico, F3000 veteran Soheil Ayari, newcomer Gabriele de Bono and Bologna returnee Stefano Gabellini.

Bologna Motorshow F3000 Italia sprint entries

Driver

Car/Engine

Gabriele de Bono (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Soheil Ayari (F)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Ricardo Sperafico (BR)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Stefano Gabellini (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Thomas Biagi (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Fabrizio Gollin (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Gabriele Lancieri (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Danilo Rossi (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Gianluca Calcagni (I)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

Nikolaus Stremmenos (G)

Lola-Zytek T96/50

 

December 2nd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Vallelunga to host official Euro F3000 test? Vallelunga could host a Euro F3000 test session on December 13th and 14th, with Sighinolfi, Draco, GP Racing and Monaco Motorsport all interested in running at the Rome circuit. Euro F3000 series promoter Pierluigi Corbari could take advantage of the interest by making it an official test. News thanks to our French correspondant Fred Breton (Woodcote F3000).

 

December 2nd 2000 - Euro F3000:

F3000 cars returning to Pau? Extra race at A1-Ring? The prestigious Pau Grand Prix could be held for Formula 3000 machinery once again next year. According to Draco Racing, the French street circuit venue has been mentioned as a possibility on the inaugural Euro F3000 calendar next year. Since 1999 the Pau Grand Prix has been held for F3 cars, after International F3000 became a full-time Grand Prix support formula. Also mooted were Estoril in Portugal and British GP venue Silverstone. The Euro F3000 series (formerly F3000 Italia) will at present visit four Italian circuits in 2001, plus Donington in Britain, Oschersleben in Germany, Valencia in Spain and an eighth venue. Previously unconfirmed, this latter race now looks set to be held on Austria's A1-Ring, which already hosts an International F3000 round. The four Italian races are speculated to be held at Imola, Mugello, Vallelunga and Monza. Two non-championship promotional races could also be held, taking the championship further around the world, although venues are unconfirmed at present. This season's F3000 Italia series saw a non-championship race held at Assen, Netherlands, which was a great success with 25,000 spectators.

 

December 2nd 2000 - Euro F3000:

Bentwood plans second Fortec test Michael Bentwood is set to test Fortec's Euro F3000 Lola T96/50 again this month, after his first test at a wet Donington last week. The Briton will possibly test on the European mainland to attempt some dry-weather running, reveals Crash net. At Donington, Bentwood waited in the pitlane for the rain to ease, but chose to go out two hours into the morning session. He said: "I was sat in the pitlane before going out for the first time thinking that I had a lot of weight and power behind me. The conditions were appalling, the track was very greasy, and I got wheelspin just going down the pitlane in second gear. I went round carefully, then floored the throttle for the first time on the straight. The sheer grunt of the engine was incredible compared to a Formula Three car, though the car is much heavier which makes the braking areas much longer." He added: "I did eight laps just to get the feel of the car, and was a few seconds off the pace of some of the regular runners who were there. When I went out for the second run, I was able to get within six-tenths of them as I learnt the car. It understeers on the way in, and wants to oversteer on the way out of the corners. After some more laps, I was half a second quicker than people with a season of F3000 behind them. In the afternoon it poured down and it was hard to get any heat in the tyres, but again I was able to get right on the pace." The 22-year old British F3 veteran concluded: "It was a good test. The car is not as advanced as a Formula Three in some areas, it's heavier but much more powerful. Through the corners you have to be very careful in the wet, just tickling the throttle until the car is straight. It is a car where you as the driver can have a lot more input than you could in F3."

 

December 2nd 2000 - International F3000:

Sperafico to race for Petrobras Junior? Italian website Prorace claims that F3000 Italia champion Ricardo Sperafico will race for Petrobras Junior in International F3000 next year. Previous reports have revealed the Brazilian is a favourite for the seat, but Prorace's claim is unconfirmed at present. Sperafico will take part in this month's Bologna Motorshow F3000 Italia sprint (see story above).

 

December 2nd 2000 - International F3000:

Webber, Scheckter & Brown begin F1 duties The end of the November F1 testing ban saw Mark Webber and Tomas Scheckter begin work as Benetton and Jaguar F1 test drivers at a wet Silverstone yesterday. Benetton debuted their new wide-angle Renault V10 with Webber at the wheel, but progress was restricted by teething problems with the new unit. Webber completed one lap in the morning before returning to the track after lunch, completing four runs and a flying lap. Fellow F3000 star Scheckter had more luck with Jaguar, setting the fastest registered time of the day (1m48.00s), despite a spin at Becketts. With Scheckter and Luciano Burti driving, Jaguar brought their R1 and an interim R1B car to the circuit. David Brown began his role as Jordan team manager, having left McLaren's F3000 squad which has since pulled out of the formula. 1997 F3000 champion Ricardo Zonta was at the wheel for his first appearance as test driver.

 

November 30th 2000 - Euro F3000:

Michael Bentwood, Donington, Nov 2000

Bentwood and Fortec make Euro F3000 debut Fortec Motorsport started preparations for their Euro F3000 campaign by testing Michael Bentwood at Donington Park last week (left). The British F3 veteran, seventh overall with the team this year, had his first run in one of the team's Lola T96/50s, and is hoping to stay with the team for the inaugural Euro F3000 championship next year. Autosport reveals that Etienne van der Linde is also in talks with Fortec to secure a drive for 2001 in the series which was previously run as F3000 Italia. The South African recently tested for International F3000 teams Kid Jensen Racing and Petrobras Junior, and tested an F3000 Italia Lola T96/50 for First GP at the start of this year.

 

November 30th 2000 - Formula Nippon:

Takagi signs for Walker Racing It was announced yesterday that Toranosuke Takagi will race the number 5 Walker Racing entry in CART next year. The Japanese driver dominated this year's Formula Nippon series, winning eight of the ten races with PIAA Nakajima Planning. The 26-year old will race a Pioneer sponsored car with Toyota engines, after the team decided to change their Honda powerplants. Takagi was pleased with the deal: "I am very happy to be joining Walker Racing and the CART series. It will be my first experience with oval tracks in CART, so I'll be learning them as well as the CART car. I have much experience and confidence on street and road courses and I will try to drive them to my full capabilities from the very beginning. I cannot wait for my first test in January."

 

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