01.03.96 - MALCOLM WILSON RALLYFinland's Jouko Puhakka will be first away of the 120 competitors when the rally sets off from the market town of Cockermouth on Saturday morning. The Volkswagen Europe team are using round two of the Peugeot Sport Gold Star Rally Championship as practice for their drivers ahead of the Mobil 1/Top Gear RAC British Rally Championship. New signing Puhakka competes while Tapio Laukkanen will use his Golf GTi as a course car. Leading Gold Star entries include Jock Armstrong and Simon Champion while Bob Green heads the Open competitors.
03.03.96INDYCAR:- Britain's Mark Blundell fell victim to the weather as heavy rain washed out Saturday's qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead. He is making his debut for the PacWest team and qualifying took place on Sunday less than four hours before the start of the race. It was the first time for nine years that qualifying and racing were held on the same day. Canadian Paul Tracy was fastest in the morning practice session on Saturday with a speed of 194.877 mph in the Penske Mercedes-Benz Ilmor.
THAILAND RALLY:- World champion Colin McRae leads the Rally of Thailand by 46 seconds from Subaru teammate Kenneth Eriksson of Sweden at the end of the first day. McRae dominated throughout the 10-stage first leg, setting six fastest times as the opening round of the Asia-Pacific Championship got underway. He said: "Apart from an intermittent misfire, we've had no problems all day and I'm pleased with our position. "It's the first time we've ever done the rally so the stages are very new to us. They are rough and bumpy in places, but only for short sections at a time."
Positions after 10 stages: (end of leg 1) hrs mins secs 1 C McRae GB Subaru 1:04.05 2 K Eriksson Swe Subaru 1:04.51 3 P Liatti It Subaru 1:05.12 4 T Makinen Fin Mitsubishi 1:05.49 5 M Higgins Subaru 1:09.20 6 Y Kataoka Jpn Mitsubishi 1:11.31 7 K Singh Proton 1:13.21 8 S Konishi Jpn Subaru 1:14.58 9 C Sin'kiow Suzuki 1:15.07 Britain's Richard Burns crashed out on SS8, crew were unhurt. 04.03.96F1:- The Minardi Ford team have announced that Italy's Giancarlo Fisichella will take over from Taki Inoue in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. Former test driver Fisichella, 23, will earn his debut because Japanese driver Inoue has sponsorship problems. Fisichella, the 1994 Italian Formula Three champion, raced touring cars for Alfa Romeo last year as well as testing for Minardi and Ferrari. He was a leading candidate to partner world champion Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari team before Britain's Eddie Irvine was chosen for the job.
INDYCAR:- Mark Blundell finished a disappointing 17th in his Reynard Ford Cosworth on his IndyCar debut in America. American Jimmy Vasser drove his Reynard Honda to victory in the inaugural Grand Prix of Miami, the season-opening race of the IndyCar series. He passed Brazil's Gil de Ferran in a virtually indentical car on a restart with 32 laps to go as he earned his first championship victory. In a close battle for third place, American Robby Gordon pipped Canadian Scott Pruett. Three-times series champion Bobby Rahal finished fifth.
THAILAND RALLY:- World champion Colin McRae looks set for victory after a superb display in the Rally of Thailand. The Scot has a commanding lead of 1:29.00 over Subaru teammate Kenneth Eriksson with just one leg to go. "We have had a couple of punctures as as a few of the stages were really rough. But I'm pushing as hard as I'm happy to in these conditions. The car's fantastic, but it's taking a real hammering. All in all, we've had a very satisfying day," said McRae.
Positions after 20 stages: hrs mins secs 1 C McRae GB Subaru 2:39.10 2 K Eriksson Swe Subaru 2:40.39 3 P Liatti It Subaru 2:41.10 4 K Singh Proton 2:56.01 5 Y Kataoka Jpn Mitsubishi 2:57.15 6 S Konishi Jpn Subaru 3:05.40 7 T Tom'yasu Jpn Mitsubishi 3:06.31 8 N Tajima Jpn Suzsuki 3:06.49 9 C Sin'kiow Suzuki 3:06.49TOURING CARS:- This year's Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship has been entered by at least ten manufacturers. The first round at Donington Park on Easter Monday will feature every touring car world champion or FIA World Cup champion. TOCA managing director Alan Gow said: "I believe this year's entry is the best we've yet seen. Not only do we have the FIA World Cup winners from 1993 to 1995 but there are also five British champions so the prospects couldn't be more exciting."
05.03.96 RALLY OF THAILAND RESULT: hrs mins secs 1 C McRae GB Subaru 3:35.17 2 K Eriksson Swe Subaru 3:35.48 3 P Liatti It Subaru 3:36.46 4 K Singh Proton 3:56.17 5 Y Kataoka Jpn Mitsubishi 4:06.23 6 S Konishi Jpn Subaru 4:07.55 7 T Tom'yasu Jpn Mitsubishi 4:08.53 8 N Tajima Jpn Suzsuki 4:10.32 9 C Sin'kiow Suzuki 4:16.07 10 A McTighe Subaru 4:35.31Scotland's Colin McRae dominated the Rally of Thailand as he led a 1-2-3 victory sweep for the 555 Subaru team. World champion McRae was never under threat as he led from start to finish, setting a total of 10 fastest stages to win by 31 seconds after three days. McRae, competing for the first time in Thailand, said: "This is fantastic. I never expected to come here and win. I thought experience would count." Subaru's Kenneth Eriksson and Piero Liatti joined him on the poduim as they came in more than 19 minutes ahead of their nearest rival in fourth place.
Britain's rising star Richard Burns has revealed what went wrong in his bid for honours in the Rally of Thailand. Burns, making his Mitsubishi debut in the opening round of the Asia Pacific Championship, was challenging eventual winner Colin McRae but crashed on SS8. "The back of the car drifted a bit wide on the rough stuff exiting a medium-fast left-hander. It drifted wider and wider and we hit a tree really hard. I'm all the more upset as I wasn't giving it 100 per cent," said the Reading driver. "We would have given McRae a run for his money."
PORTUGUESE RALLY:- Rui Madeira will have home support to help him as he bids for victory in round two of the 2-Litre World Rally Championship for Makes. Madeira in an ex-factory Toyota Celica GT-Four can expect a tough challenge from teammate Freddy Loix of Belgium. Other rivals will include Portuguese reigning champion Fernando Peres and Finn Ari Mokkonen, both in Ford Escorts. The three-leg event starts from the seafront of Figueira da Foz early on Wednesday and features 34 stages. The first round, in Monte Carlo, was won by Francoise Delecour in a Peugeot.
TOURING CARS:- Touring car star Frank Biela completed a trouble-free 108-lap test in his new Audi A4 quattro but could not match the times of the Volvos around Oulton Park. Biela, the FIA Touring Car World Cup champion, clocked a best time of 60.18 seconds on the Cheshire track. Swede Rickard Rydell set the day's best time of 59.93s in his Volvo 850, ahead of teammate Kelvin Burt (59.96). Will Hoy in a Renault Laguna clocked 60.75. This year's 26-race Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship gets underway at Donington Park on Easter Monday.
BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Skoda are entering a factory-prepared Felicia in this year's Mobil 1/Top Gear RAC British Rally Championship. The car will be driven by Shropshire's Steve Wedgbury and co-driven by Ian Regan from Belfast in all five rounds of the UK's top rally series. "This is an exciting new venture for us," says Dermot Kelly, Director of Skoda (UK). "We want to promote the impressive sportiness and incredible durability of our latest Felicia model." Also competing in the series will be a privately-entered Group A Felicia 1300 driven by Stuart Hodkin.
F1:- Damon Hill has been backed for the F1 world crown by two of Britain's leading drivers in the build-up to round one. Former teammate David Coulthard, now with McLaren, and Jordan's new driver Martin Brundle both agree Hill in the Williams is the one to beat this season. "He can only really lose the title this season," says Brundle. "Williams are again looking the stronger both in terms of speed and reliability." Coulthard, set for his McLaren debut, says Hill must be favourite. He added: "We won't know what the season holds until the first race."
Jacques Villeneuve is determined to avoid the Formula One fate suffered by one of his predecessors who made the switch from IndyCar racing. Michael Andretti, like Villeneuve, came to F1 as reigning IndyCar champion, and left six months later having scored just one podium finish. "Michael just did not have the time to get ready," insists Villeneuve. "I have done several thousand miles of testing and have lived in Monaco for a while." The new Williams driver said he would not be second best to Damon Hill. "When I race, I race to win," he declared.
PREVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN GP
Formula One drivers preparing for Sunday's race in Melbourne have given the redeveloped Albert Park circuit a firm vote of approval. Almost all the competitors have praised the controversial new track, some even claiming it could be the most beautiful - and formidable - circuit in the world. Twice world champion Michael Schumacher said it was fast and exciting while Canadian Jacques Villeneuve said there were six potential overtaking places. "It looks great," said the new Williams driver, praising the circuit for the challenge of its corners.
Melbourne hosts round one of the 1996 FIA Formula One World Championship, on a circuit not used for 40 years. The circuit, developed at an estimated 25 million Australian dollars, is expected to be one of the fastest in the world with top speeds of 300kph. Britain's Stirling Moss, who won the 1956 Olympic Grand Prix in Melbourne, said it was a fantastic track. "It is the finest conventional road circuit I've seen, by miles. There is nothing else to compare with it," enthused Moss.
Britain's Damon Hill will be aiming to start the 1996 Formula One season where he left off in 1995, with victory in the Australian Grand Prix. "I always enjoy racing in Australia and although we are going to Melbourne for the first time, I'm sure I will enjoy it," said twice runner-up Hill. Hill and new Williams teammate Jacques Villeneuve ended out-of-season testing with an impressive showing in Estoril. "I've had a really good winter and I can't wait for the new season to start" said Hill. "I've learnt a great deal during my three seasons of F1 racing."
All eyes will be on double world champion Michael Schumacher as he makes his Ferrari debut this weekend. Few, including the German himself, see him among the favourites this year and most experts are predicting a closer season than for a great many years. Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi have made the opposite move to Schumacher, joining the Benetton Renault team from Ferrari and both drivers will be keen to make a good early impression. A great many drivers are with new teams providing great interest in the opening race of the 16-round 1996 season.
Drivers face a tense qualifying session on the Saturday of each GP weekend, following the abolition of Friday practice this season. Each competitor will be allowed a maximum 12 laps to qualify and drivers who are not within seven per cent of the pole position time will be excluded. The changes will put considerable pressure on teams but should result in considerable excitement for spectators. Teams will be give two one-hour 'free' practice sessions on Fridays, with 30 laps per driver, and two 45-minute free sessions on Saturday mornings.
1. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari): World champion for the past two years but the 27-year-old German is not making promises of a hat-trick after pre-season problems with his new car. No-one will be discounting him and, although an early season victory looks unlikely, there is no question he will soon be adding to his 19 GP victories.
2. EDDIE IRVINE (Ferrari): Made a surprise switch to Ferrari just a week after agreeing a new deal with Jordan towards the end of last season. Likeable Irishman with a lot of natural talent but has yet to win a F1 race.
3. JEAN ALESI (Benetton Renault): Delighted his fan club with a maiden GP win in Canada in 1995 and went on to enjoy his most successful F1 season with a total of four runner-up places. Could improve on that even further in his first year with Benetton, as they bid to retain the constructors' crown.
4. GERHARD BERGER (Benetton Renault): Another major talent who should fare well in this strong, organised set-up. Berger, now in his 13th season of F1, will be looking to add to his nine victories. He should be one of the front-runners from round one onwards.
5. DAMON HILL (Williams Renault): Odds-on favourite to win the title this year in his fourth full season with the team and after twice being runner-up. He has a superb car and pre-season testing has seen him looking confident and relaxed. He will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed this time.
6. JACQUES VILLENEUVE (Williams Renault): Became the youngest ever IndyCar series winner when he captured the 1995 title and will learn fast in his debut season. The 24-year-old Canadian was impressive in early testing and clearly has no plans to play second fiddle to Hill.
7. MIKA HAKKINEN (McLaren Mercedes): The likeable Finn has made a remarkable recovery from his Adelaide crash and looks set to be right back on the pace. This will be his sixth season in F1 and his fourth in a row with McLaren. The new car has been very quick in testing but has yet to prove its reliability.
8. DAVID COULTHARD (McLaren Mercedes): Tipped by many as a future world champion but the realistic Scot is not expecting too many successes this year. Coulthard, third overall in his first full season last year, hopes to give McLaren their first victory since 1993.
9. OLIVIER PANIS (Ligier Mugen Honda): Set for his third season in GP racing and his third with Ligier, with two second places so far to his credit. Determined to show his face among the front-runners from time to time but unlikely to be a regular contender.
10. PEDRO DINIZ (Ligier Mugen Honda): Survived a tough debut season driving for F1 newcomers Forti, with whom he had enjoyed a successful relationship in International F3000 for two years. Best result so far was seventh in the final race at Adelaide but should improve on that with Ligier this year.
11. RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Jordan Peugeot): The Brazilian is likely to benefit enormously from the arrival of Brundle, as he starts his fourth season in F1. Highly talented, with a second place in Canada already to his credit. Will be expected to be among the leaders.
12. MARTIN BRUNDLE (Jordan Peugeot): Long overdue a GP victory and this season should realise his ambition, perhaps even early in the season. The new car has been fast and reliable in pre-season outings and Brundle finds himself as enthusiastic and determined as ever as he approaches his 143rd GP.
14. JOHNNY HERBERT (Sauber Ford): Achieved a hugely popular maiden win in the British GP at Silverstone last July and went on to win in Italy, finishing fourth in the Championship for Benetton. Axed by the team despite his brilliant achievement but his move to Sauber, this year running with a new Ford V10 power pack, could be a good one.
15. HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN (Sauber Ford): Set for his third GP season, all with Sauber, and hoping to build on his steady run in 1995 which saw him score points in eight of the 17 races. One podium finish so far, 3rd in Italy.
16. JOS VERSTAPPEN (Arrows Hart): Made a big impression when he arrived on the Formula One scene in 1994, earning two third places for Benetton. Only raced in five GPs with the ailing Simtek team before they dropped out. The Dutchman is highly-rated by Arrows team boss Jackie Oliver who has opted here for driver talent not cash. Jos is impressed with the new Arrow-Hart FA17.
17. RICARDO ROSSET (Arrows Hart): The Brazilian, runner-up in the F3000 Championship last year, is rather a gamble for the team although he did come with some much-needed funds.
18. UKYO KATAYAMA (Tyrrell Yamaha): Not the most comfortable of starts for the 31-year-old Japanese star who found he was too small for his new car. Katayama has been with Tyrrell for the past three years but had an unhappy 1995 when his best result was seventh.
19. MIKA SALO (Tyrrell Yamaha): Only modest success with the team last season but has been delighted with the new lightweight Yamaha V10 engine which should make the car more competitive. The 28-year-old Finn had two fifth place finishes in 1995 but is clearly expecting a lot better this season.
20. PEDRO LAMY (Minardi Ford): Impressed the Italian team with his consistency after taking over from Pierluigi Martini midway through 1995 and has been kept on for this season. He became the only Portuguese driver to have scored a World Championship point, with a sixth place in Australia. Expect to see him among the middle order.
21. TAKI INOUE (Minardi Ford): Made his debut in the 1994 Japanese GP with Simtek and drove a full season for Footwork last year, with a best finish of eighth. Faces a battle to qualify.
22. ANDREA MONTERMINI (Forti Ford): The 31-year-old Italian has a difficult task ahead of him as he starts his second season in F1 in a version of Forti's not-very-competitive 1995 car.Some improvements have been made but Montermini, ninth on his GP debut with Pacific, may struggle in early races.
23. LUCA BADOER (Forti Ford): Badoer moves to Forti for his third F1 season, with talent to match that of his teammate plus extra experience. Forti failed to score a point in their debut season and are said to still have a lot of work to do.
06.03.96F1:- Protesters staged a demonstration at the Albert Park circuit on Wednesday to voice their anger over the race track. Police said 13 people tore through a perimiter fence and staged a brief protest over how Melbourne park land had been turned into a racing circuit. A spokesman for the demonstrators said the group had wanted to break into the grounds to tell the drivers and their teams they were not welcome. The Save Albert Park group has also threatened to stage "a major international incident" onSunday when the Australian Grand Prix is held.
The French Grand Prix is to stay at Magny Cours until 1999 despite an announcement that the race would switch to Le Castellet next season. The French Motorsports Federation said Le Castellet had failed to reach an agreement with the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA). "The choice of Le Castellet circuit was a sentimental one. But we had to give it up because of FOCA's financial requirements," the Federation said. They hope, however, to bring the European Grand Prix to France in 1997 and 1998, possible at Le Castellet.
PORTUGUESE RALLY Positions after 11 stages: (end of day one - 12th stage cancelled) hrs mins secs 1 R Madeira Por Toyota 1:41.29 2 F Peres Por Ford 1:42.05 3 A Mokkonen Fin Ford 1:42.11 4 J Miguel Por Ford 1:43.03 5 F Loix Bel Toyota 1:43.56 6 M Karnioka Subaru 1:45.22 7 J Bica Subaru 1:46.12 8 A Lopes Por Peugeot 1:48.29 9 P Sibera Cz Skoda 1:48.26 10 J Puras Sp Seat 1:48.37 07.03.96F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GP
Formula One rookie Jacques Villeneuve stole the limelight from teammate Damon Hill as the season got under way. The Canadian clocked 1 min 33.401 secs for Williams Renault in the second of two familiarisation sessions at the spectacular new Albert Park circuit. Hill's best of 1:34.392 came in the opening session but he was also among several drivers to have their first spins of the season. Reigning champion Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest for Ferrari, but slower than Jean Alesi, his replacement at Benetton.
Jacques Villeneuve was understandably delighted after producing the fastest lap of Thursday's unofficial practice in his debut drive for Williams. "I was not expecting to be up there with an advantage. It is a surprise, but it feels great," he said. "I'm where any driver would want to be. That's why we work so hard during the winter. But it's only the first day and things are bound to change. It shows we have a good base to work on. It would be good to stay in front for Sunday - that's what we are here for," Villeneuve added.
Britain's Damon Hill acknowledged the challenge he faces from new teammate Jacques Villeneuve after being outpaced by the Canadian in practice. "Jacques really got on with the job and there is going to be some tough competition between us. Everyone has said he is very quick," he commented. Hill described the new parkland circuit as a "fun track" and said: "It will now get quicker the whole time." He added: "You are probably looking at another couple of seconds between today's times and final qualifying."
Thursday's familiarisation times:mins secs 1 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:33.401 2 D Hill GB Williams 1:34.392 3 J Alesi Fr Benetton 1:34.664 4 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari 1:35.018 5 J Verstappen Hol Footwork 1:35.057 6 R Barrichello Brz Peugeot 1:35.115 7 E Irvine GB Ferrari 1:35.349 8 G Berger Aut Benetton 1:35.362 9 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:35.780 10 H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:36.135 11 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:36.253 12 D Coulthard GB McLaren 1:36.330 13 J Herbert GB Sauber 1:36.678 14 M Brundle GB Jordan 1:37.051 == M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:37.051 16 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:37.903 17 P Lamy Por Minardi 1:38.072 18 R Rosset Brz Footwork 1:38.367 19 P Diniz Brz Ligier 1:38.447 20 G Fisichella It Minardi 1:39.142 21 L Badoer It Forti 1:51.007 22 A Montermini It Forti 2:05.379 PORTUGUESE RALLY Positions after 21 stages: (end of day two) hrs mins secs 1 R Madeira Por Toyota 1:41.29 2 F Loix Bel Toyota 1:43.56 3 F Peres Por Ford 1:42.05 4 A Mokkonen Por Ford 1:42.11 5 J Miguel Por Ford 1:43.03 6 M Karnioka Subaru 1:45.22 7 J Puras Sp Seat 1:48.37 8 E Triner Skoda 1:46.12 9 P Sibera Cz Skoda 1:48.26 10 A Lopes Por Peugeot 1:48.29 08.03.96PORTUGUESE RALLY:- Rui Madeira delighted the home fans to earn Portugal's first Portuguese Rally win for ten years. Madeira, driving a Toyota for the first time, dominated the three-day race and never surrendered his lead after moving ahead in the fourth of the 34 stages. Early leader Freddie Loix finished second after losing three minutes after his Toyota suffered a puncture. However Jesus Puras of Spain claimed maximum world championship points in his SEAT as four-wheel drive cars like a Toyota could not score in this event.
Final result: hrs mins secs 1 R Madeira Por Toyota 5:13.28 2 F Loix Bel Toyota @ 1.47 3 J Miguel Ford @ 9.54 4 M Kamioka Subaru @ 14.16 5 J Puras Sp Seat @ 28.02 F3 (Brands Hatch):- Practice times: mins secs 1 J Matthews Dallara-Ren 0:44.777 2 J Davies Dallara-TWR 0:45.035 3 G Smith Dallara-Mitsub 0:46.895 4 B Smith Dallara-Toy 0:48.065 5 C Horner TOM'S Toyota 0:48.359 6 M Shaw Dallara-TWR 0:48.448 09.03.96 F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GPRookie Jacques Villeneuve will start from pole position when he makes his Formula One debut on Sunday. Villeneuve produced a spectacular display in the qualifying session, clocking 1:32.371 on Melbourne's new Albert Park track. Carlos Reutemann was the last rookie to take pole position in a world championship race - driving a Brabham-Ford in the 1972 Argentine GP. Damon Hill was second with fellow Briton Eddie Irvine third ahead of his Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher.
Jacques Villeneuve was delighted but not too surprised after taking pole position in Australia. He said: "I never expected to be up there before coming here for my first race but after the practice sessions I knew I could get it." Villenueve, who had to be told by Hill where to sit for the press conference, added: "I still have a lot to learn about Formula One and I am sure there will be a few surprises for me." Hill said: "I never expected it was going to be easy."
Qualifying times: mins secs 1 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:32.371 2 D Hill GB Williams 1:32.509 3 E Irvine GB Ferrari 1:32.889 4 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari 1:33.125 5 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:34.054 6 J Alesi Fr Benetton 1:34.257 7 G Berger Aut Benetton 1:34.344 8 R Barrichello Brz Jordan 1:34.474 9 H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:34.494 10 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:34.832 11 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:35.330 12 J Verstappen Hol Footwork 1:35.338 13 D Coulthard GB McLaren 1:35.351 14 J Herbert GB Sauber 1:35.453 15 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:35.715 16 G Fisichella It Minardi 1:35.898 17 P Lamy Por Minardi 1:36.109 18 R Rosset Brz Footwork 1:36.198 19 M Brundle GB Jordan 1:36.286 20 P Diniz Brz Ligier 1:36.298 Did not qualify: 21 L Badoer It Forti 1:39.202 22 A Montermini It Forti 1:42.087VALENTINE RALLY:- Former champion Raymond Munro scored a last gasp victory in the Valentine Rally at Stirling. He was lying 40 seconds off the pace with two stages to go in the event - the second round of the championship. But leader Jon Burn slid off the road on the penultimate stage handing the victory to Munro. Jimmy Christie took second place and is in second spot in the championship, behind Andy Horne who finished third.
Final result: mins secs 1 Munro/Brunton Escort 49:22 2 Christie/Campbell Metro 49:29 3 Horne/Howie Metro 49:44 4 Henderson/Kinloch Escort 49:54 5 Gauld/Campbell Escort 49:56 6 Wagner/Stark Audi 49:57 10.03.96 F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GP Result after 58 laps: hr min sec 1 D Hill GB Williams 1:32.50 2 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:33.28 3 E Irvine GB Ferrari 1:33.53 4 G Berger Aut Benetton 1:34.07 5 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:34.25 6 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 57 laps 7 O Panis Fr Ligier 57 laps 8 H Frentzen Ger Sauber 57 laps 9 R Rosset Brz Footwork 56 laps 10 P Diniz Brz Ligier 56 laps 11 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 55 laps NOT CLASSIFIED P Lamy Por Minardi 42 laps M Schumacher Ger Ferrari 32 laps G Fisichella It Minardi 32 laps R Barrichello Brz Jordan 29 laps D Coulthard GB McLaren 24 laps J Verstappen Hol Footwork 15 laps J Alesi Fr Benetton 9 laps M Brundle GB Jordan 1 lap J Herbert GB Sauber DNS DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS 1 D Hill GB Williams 10 pts 2 J Villeneuve Can Williams 6 3 E Irvine GB Ferrari 4 4 G Berger Aut Benetton 3 5 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 2 6 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP 1 Williams Renault 16 pts 2 Ferrari 4 3 Benetton Renault 3 4 McLaren Mercedes 2 5 Tyrrell Yamaha 1Damon Hill took the opening race of the season - but only after a terrific battle with Grand Prix debutant Jacques Villeneuve at Albert Park. Williams teammate Villeneuve looked set to become only the third driver in history to win his maiden GP after a brilliant performance. His dream was finally shattered four laps from home when he lost oil pressure and was ordered to slow down. Villeneuve held on for second place while Eddie Irvine flew the flag for Ferrari on his team debut with Michael Schumacher forced to retire.
Damon Hill was thrilled with his victory in Melbourne - but had to pay tribute to teammate Jacques Villeneuve. Hill denied the Canadian a famous win but said: "Jacques showed he's a good racer. We had a great race. I don't think anything will be given away." Hill equalled his father Graham's tally of 14 GP wins and added: "I feel absolutely fantastic. It was a thrilling race and a terrific result." Villeneuve said: "It's disappointing but it was a good battle with Damon. The race was fun. He put a lot of pressure on me."
New Formula One star Jacques Villeneuve threw down the gauntlet to his rivals with a stunning display in Melbourne. The 24-year-old former Indycar ace showed everyone he means business as he led for the majority of the race after starting on pole. The race rapidly developed into a fascinating scrap between Villeneuve and Damon Hill - and the Canadian refused to be intimidated. Hill snatched the lead on lap 32 after a pit stop but Villeneuve's aggression took him back in front - and he held on despite sliding off onto the grass.
Eddie Irvine was left basking in the Melbourne sunshine - and the glory of third place on his Ferrari debut. Irvine equalled his best-ever placing and was delighted to have finished in the as yet unproven and largely untested F310. He said: "We came here thinking we were slow and unreliable and the Ferraris went faster than we thought they would." World champion Michael Schumacher did not fare so well in the new car. He was running in third but had problems by lap 21 and was forced to call it a day with apparent brake trouble on lap 32.
Martin Brundle had an amazing escape in a spectacular crash as the new season got off to a dramatic start at Albert Park in Melbourne. Brundle's path was blocked after David Coulthard veered across the track on the first lap.Brundle's Jordan somersaulted over Coulthard and Johnny Herbert and disintegrated as it smashed into a barrier - but Brundle emerged unscathed. The race was stopped immediately and re-started - though Brundle lasted just one lap in the spare car after being hit by braking problems.
Martin Brundle said he was lucky to be alive after miraculously escaping injury when his car careered out of control at the start of the race. He told reporters: "After that accident I am lucky to be standing here talking to you. That was the worst accident I have been involved in. Three cars in front of me seemed to tangle and slowed down very quickly. I just couldn't stop from hitting them. I was just hoping my car did not hit the wall because I knew it was going to be history once it landed."
Johnny Herbert's hopes of making a bright start on his Sauber debut were well and truly shattered - by Martin Brundle's first lap crash. Herbert's car was damaged in the collision and he was unable to make the re-start. Teammate Heinz-Harald Frentzen had already grabbed the spare car after a spin on the parade lap. David Coulthard also had a bad day. He had to use the spare McLaren after the accident and retired on lap 26 with throttle problems, having been lapped by Damon Hill.
11.03.96BRITISH GTs:- British sportscar racing has received a major boost with the announcement of an eight-race Privelege Insurance GT Championship calendar for 1996. It will pit "supercars" such as the McLaren F1 against British specialists including TVR, Marcos and Morgan. Over 30 cars are expected to enter the championship opener at Silverstone on March 31 headed by a McLaren, now in the hands of top all-rounder Ian Flux. Reigning champions Marcos will also face opposition from independantly-run Jaguar XJ220, Porsche and Lotus.
TOURING CARS:- The 1996 Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship is shaping up to be more competitive than ever before, with massive interest from manufacturers. Among the eight factory entries is the ace German line-up Audi, bidding to add the UK title to the German, Italian, French and World Cup crowns already won. Volvo have gone well in pre-season testing while triple Championship winners BMW will be determined to make amends for their 1995 drought. Peugeot's new 406 looks a serious threat and Ford cannot be discounted, now in the hands of West Surrey Racing.
15.03.96 - F3James Matthews set an unofficial lap record at Silverstone's International circuit in a major pre-season test for the British Formula Three Championship. Matthews, who drives for the French Promatecme team, clocked 1 min 18.993 secs in his Dallara Renault. Jamie Davies was second quickest with 1:19.118, ahead of Matthews' French teammate Nicolas Minassian (1:19.461). The first two rounds of the 16-race championship take place at Silverstone on March 31.
17.03.96INDYCAR:- Andre Ribeiro triumphed to give Brazil a home victory on the first time it has ever staged a race in the category. Ribeiro took the lead after 20-year-old Greg Moore retired with engine trouble 17 laps from the end of the 133-lap race. Two-times Indycar champion Al Unser Jr of the United States was second and his compatriot Scott Pruett finished third. Britain's Martin Blundell survived a spectacular crash on lap 10, smashing into the perimiter wall at 200mph and escaping with a broken toe.
WEST CORK RALLY:- Liam O'Callaghan (Team Toyota) won the West Cork Rally - round two of the EARS Motorsport/ Motoring News National Championship. Bob Fowden took second place with current MN champion Pete Doughty third. John Price maintained his series lead with fifth place.
SOMERSET STAGES RALLY:- Andy Burton, driving a Metro 6R4, won the Gliddons Somerset Stages Rally ahead of local driver Derek Cossey. Lancastrian Martin Meadows, in a 1600cc Vauxhall Nova, won the Formula 2 category.
18.03.96 - INDYCARBritain's Mark Blundell had an amazing escape after a 200mph smash during Sunday's race. The former Formula One star's Reynard disintegrated after careering into the perimeter wall on lap 10 but he suffered only a broken toe. Andre Ribeiro triumphed to give Brazil a home victory on the first time it has ever staged a race in the category. Ribeiro took the lead after 20-year-old Greg Moore retired with engine trouble 17 laps from the end of the race. Al Unser Jnr was second.
20.03.96 - TOURING CARSMurray Walker will be in the thick of the action when the BBC steps up its coverage of Touring Cars under a new five-year agreement. The Auto Trader British Championship will be featured in hour-long slots on Grandstand throughout the 1997 season. It will double the coverage planned for this year and a few of the races will be screened live. Walker said last year's viewing figures were in excess of three million. "Touring Cars make Formula One look pretty childlike at times," he added.
21.03.96SPORTSCARS:- Former F1 world champions Nelson Piquet and Mario Andretti will compete in the 64th Le Mans 24-hour race on June 15. Piquet will drive one of two official BMW-backed McLarens and is likely to be joined by Steve Soper, while Andretti will drive the Courage in which he finished second last year. The organisers have had to cut down a record 108 entries to 76, and following pre-qualifying on April 28 there will be a further cut to 48 cars. Outright 1995 winner McLaren dominates the GT entry, with 10 of its supercars accepted for the event.
RALLY OF WALES:- Alister McRae will be first away from Chester race course on Friday afternoon as he launches the defence of his Mobil 1/Top Gear British Rally title. McRae, brother of world champion Colin, competes in a Malcolm Wilson Motorsport prepared Ford Escort Cosworth in round one, the Vauxhall Rally of Wales. The 15-stage event has attracted talent from all over the UK, as well as from Turkey, Sweden, Finland and France. However much of the interest will centre on last year's series runner-up Gwyndaf Evans, in an Escort RS2000, who has yet to win his home event.
Skoda UK have joined the manufacturers' battle for the first time in the Mobil 1/Top Gear RAC British Rally Championship, which starts on Friday. They line up against established teams Ford, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Honda and Volkswagen in the Rally of Wales. Fans will have a chance to meet the stars of the series before the crews set off from Chester at 1pm onwards to tackle eight stages, finishing with two floodlit runs on New Brighton Promenade. Saturday's action starts early and, after 12 hours of rallying in North and Central Wales, ends back in Chester.
VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES (March 22/23) 1 A McRae/D Senior Ford Escort 2 G Evans/H Davies Escort RS2000 3 J Kytolehto/A Kapanen Escort RS2000 4 T Laukkanen/R Mannis'ki VW Golf GTi 5 R Head/B Thomas Renault 6 M Higgins/P Mills Nissan Sunny 7 J Puhakka/M Lehtinen VW Golf GTi 8 S Jordan/J Boyere Renault 9 E Kazaz/R Freeman Nissan Sunny 10 N Wearden/R Foster Peugeot 306 22.03.96F1:- Brazilian Tarso Marques will drive for Minardi in the next two Grands Prix in his homeland and Argentina. The 20-year-old will deputise for Japan's Taki Inoue, who is unavailable due to problems with his sponsor. Marques has experience in Formula 3000 and tested with the Italian team at Misano earlier this week. The Brazilian GP takes place in Sao Paulo next weekend, with the Argentine race following at Buenos Aires seven days later.
F3:- Yorkshire driver Paula Cook, who will compete in the British Formula Three Championship this year, has been awarded the Lord Wakefield Trophy for her achievements in the sport.
RALLY OF WALES:- Alister McRae made the best possible start to the defence of his British title, setting the fastest time on the opening stage of the Rally of Wales. Early trouble struck Finn Ari Mokkonen, who damaged the radiator on his Ford Escort on SS1. Mark Higgins shone in the battle of the Nissan Sunnys over the opening stage although he trailed the leader by 20s. Frenchman Serge Jordan has been finding things tough in the new Renault Maxi Megane. It is Jordan's first taste of British stages, his first of gravel surfaces - and conditions are foggy.
VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES LEADERBOARD after 8 of 15 stages: (provisional) mins secs 1 A McRae/Senior Ford 50:02 2 Mokkonen/Silander Ford 50:49 3 Evans/Davies Ford 51:09 4 Harkki/Mustalahti M/bishi 50:40 5 Rovanpera/Repo M/bishi 52:25 6 Higgins/Mills Nissan 52:33 7 Laukkanen/M'maki VW 52.47 8 Puhakka/Lehtinen VW 53:33 9 Korhonen/Heinonen M/bishi 54:28 10 Wearden/Forster Peugeot 54:56 CLASS LEADERBOARD after 6 of 15 stages: GROUP N PRODUCTION CUP mins secs 1 Harkki/Mustalahti M/bishi 45:38 2 Rovanpera/Repo M/bishi 46:25 3 Mirhonen/Heinonen M/bishi 48:31 BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 1 Dale/Bargery Peugeot 50:27 2 Champion/Joll Peugeot 52:24 3 Stubbs/Harper Peugeot 54:30 BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS 1 Evans/Davies Ford 45:28 2 Laukkanen/M'maki VW 46:30 3 Higgins/Mills Nissan 46:49 23.03.96 - VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALESAlister McRae made the perfect start to his 1996 campaign, leading all the way to win the Vauxhall Rally of Wales. It was a second successive win in the event for McRae, who was almost five minutes clear in his 4x4 Ford Escort Cosworth after the 15 stages. Finn Ari Mokkonen was runner-up ahead of Gywndaf Evans, in his Ford RS2000, who used local knowledge to earn victory in the main two-litre category of the Mobil 1/Top Gear Championship. There was a double celebration in the McRae family with father Jimmy winning the historic event.
Mark Higgins in a Nissan held on to take second place behind Gwyndaf Evans in the two-litre category, with Jarmo Kytolehto third and sixth overall. Kytolehto, in the second of the factory Ford RS2000s had recovered well after a poor start in the two-day event. Turkish driver Ercan Kazaz made steady progress up the leaderboard throughout the second day to finish fifth in the two-litre group. He had made a cautious start in a Nissan on his British debut. Skoda, also making a first appearance in the series, saw Steve Wedgbury guide his 1300cc Felicia home in 30th place.
Mark Higgins' younger brother David completed a weekend of family success, finishing fourth in his class in the Honda Civic. Mark was fifth overall. Renault, disappointed by the early gasket failure on Robbie Head's new Maxi Megane, received some consolation when Serge Jordan took seventh place. British Junior Champion Neil Wearden overcame electrical problems and a puncture to finish sixth in the 2-litre class in his Peugeot 306 S16. Joukko Puhakka was 20th in the only VW Golf to finish after Tapio Laukkanen's promising run ended on SS10.
FINAL LEADERBOARD (after 15 stages): (provisional) mins secs 1 A McRae/Senior Ford 2:33:37 2 Mokkonen/Silander Ford 2:38:33 3 Evans/Davies Ford 2:38:50 4 Harkki/Mustalahti Mitsub'hi 2:40:47 5 Higgins/Mills Nissan 2:42:50 6 Kytolehto/Kapanen Ford 2:47:06 7 Jordan/Boyere Renault 2:49:21 8 Higgins/Simmons Honda 2:49:39 9 Kazaz/Freeman Nissan 2:49:46 10 Rovanpera/Repo Mitsub'hi 2:49:47 BRITISH C'SHIP CONTENDERS mins secs 1 Evans/Davies Ford 2:38:50 2 Higgins/Mills Nissan 2:42:50 3 Kytolehto/Kapanen Ford 2:47:06 BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 1 Dale/Bargery Peugeot 2:56:07 2 Stubbs/Harper Peugeot 3:04:29 3 Champion/Joll Peugeot 3:18:29 GROUP N PRODUCTION CUP 1 Harkki/Mustalahti Mitsub'hi 2:40:47 2 Rovanpera/Repo Mitsub'hi 2:49:47 3 Korhonen/Heinonen Mitsub'hi 2:51:24 25.03.96 - TOURING CARSReigning Touring Car world champion Frank Biela led the way in the first official testing session for the 1996 Championship at Donington. The German made best use of cold conditions in his four-wheel drive Audi A4 to lap the circuit in a time of one minute, 36.372 seconds. Rykard Rydell was his closest rival in 1:36.717 while 1993 champion Jo Winkelhock was third in 1:36.808. There is just one more official testing session remaining before the resumption of the Championship on Easter Monday.
Monday's testing times: hr:mn.sec 1 F Biela Ger Audi 1:36.372 2 R Rydell Swe Volvo 850 1:36.717 3 J Winkelhock Ger BMW 320i 1:36.800 4 A Menu Swi Renault 1:37.167 5 R Ravaglia It BMW 320i 1:37.264 6 K Burt GB Volvo 850 1:37.458 7 D Leslie GB Honda 1:37.700 8 J Bintcliffe GB Audi A4 1:38.164 9 J Kaye GB Honda 1:38.178 10 J Cleland GB Vauxhall 1:38.210 11 J Thompson GB Vauxhall 1:38.333 12 P Kox Hol BMW 320i 1:38.528 13 G Ayles GB Vauxhall 1:39.032 14 R Kaye GB Vauxhall 1:39.149 15 P Radisich NZ Ford 1:39.825 27.03.96F1: PREVIEW OF THE BRAZILIAN GP
Damon Hill and his new teammate Jacques Villeneuve gave the Rothmans Williams Renault team the perfect start to the 1996 Formula One season in Australia. Hill, delighted to be leading the World Championship points for the first time in ages, knows his biggest challenge on Sunday could again come from Villeneuve. The Canadian, slowed by an oil pressure problem when almost in sight of victory in his F1 debut, must first learn the Interlagos track. But Hill insisted: "I don't think there will be anything given away this season and Jacques has shown he is a racer."
All eyes will be on sensational new boy Jacques Villenueve when round two of the FIA World Formula One Championship takes place in Brazil this weekend. Villeneuve started from pole in his F1 debut at Melbourne and led for most of the race. "It was disappointing to have to slow down," he admitted. He intends to waste little time in getting to know the Interlagos circuit. "Within 10 laps you should be within a second of your limit on a new track," he declared. "Normally the day before you run or skate it or go round in a hire car so you know where to brake."
World champion Michael Schumacher will be at his most determined in Brazil after an impressive debut for Ferrari in the opening round in Australia. Schumacher was lying third and within striking distance of the two Williams cars when, after his first pit stop for fuel, he retired with brake problems. Teammate Eddie Irvine will be keen to prove his third place, achieved despite colliding with Jean Alesi, was no fluke. Also hoping to continue his point-scoring form will be Mika Hakkinen, fifth in the Marlboro McLaren Mercedes on his return from serious injury.
Martin Brundle made the headlines after Australia for all the wrong reasons but seemed largely unaffected by his horrific high speed first lap crash. "I was flat out in sixth gear," he said "I just concentrated on not hitting my head. The accident seemed to go on for a very long time." Brundle restarted the race in the spare car but spun after only lap and will be hoping for a much better outing in his Total Jordan Peugeot this weekend. Teammate Rubens Barrichello, born in Sao Paulo, will be keen to impress his home crowd with a top six finish.
Local hero Rubens Barrichello failed to finish in last year's race, sidelined with clutch trouble, and was critical of the state of the Interlagos track. "I was not happy with the surface of the track, it was just so bumpy... It is an enjoyable place for me to race, in front of my countrymen but you have to work hard on the balance of the car." The race is the first of two in South America, with the Argentine GP taking place just seven days later. This Sunday's GP is over 71 laps and starts at 1pm, 5pm in the UK which that day switches to British Summer Time.
RALLYING:- Belgian Bruno Thiry is to join No 1 driver Carlos Sainz in the second Team Ford Repsol entry for this year's FIA World Rally Championship. Thiry and regular co-driver, Stephane Prevot, will contest the Acropolis Rally, Rally of Argentina, Rally of Australia, San Remo and Catalunya Rally. For the Safari Rally and the Rally of Indonesia, the second Team Ford Repsol entry will be driven by Stig Blomqvist and Gwyndaf Evans respectively. Thiry said: "I am really pleased to be able to drive for Ford again."
28.03.96F1:- Tom Walkinshaw has confirmed he has taken over the struggling Arrows team.In a statement Walkinshaw said his company Tom Walkinshaw Racing planned to take full control before the European Grand Prix on April 28.
Williams technical chief Patrick Head has disputed the official findings which blame steering failure for Ayrton Senna's fatal crash in 1994. The report claims that Senna's steering column fatigued and only a small part remained intact when he lost control and crashed into a wall at Imola. However, Head said: "We haven't had the opportunity to look at any of the parts properly, but the conclusion would not tie in with data we have from the car."
"The technical report states the data on the car indicates that the steering was working on impact," he added.
Frenchman Emmanuel Collard has joined the Tyrrell Yamaha Formula One team as their test driver for the season. The 24-year-old will begin work at Silverstone in April when the team returns from the Argentine Grand Prix. He will also deputise in races if Mika Salo or Ukyo Katayama are unable to drive during the season. Collard began his career in kart racing and later graduated to Formula 3 and 3000 before moving into the Porsche Supercup Championship.
GRANITE CITY RALLY:- Number one seed Chris Mellors will be the driver everyone wants to beat when round two of the British Mintex National series takes place on Saturday. Mellors, champion for the past two years, made a winning start to the series in Bournemouth last month. This event, which starts and finishes in Aberdeen is traditionally a battle between Scottish and English crews with the former dominating in past years. Mellors can expect a fierce challenge from local drivers, including Scottish champion David Gillanders who comes out of semi-retirement for his home rally.
Scottish crews have dominated the event for the past few years, with Murray Grierson taking the honours in 1995. Andy Horne and Jimmy Christie have already shown they are the men to beat on Scottish soil this year, currently heading the Scottish Rally Championship. They can expect a fierce challenge in round three of the Scottish series from former champion Raymond Munro, Neale Dougan, Chris Wagner, Walter Henderson, George Gauld and the improving Jon Burn. About 90 crews will compete over 65 miles of forestry commission gravel roads in the Grampian Region.
TOP SEEDS Round 2 of British Mintex National Series/Round 3 of Scottish Championship 1 C Mellors/B Goff Ford Escort Cos 2 D Gillanders/S Merry Ford Escort Cos 3 S Hill/S Boyles Mitsubishi Gal 4 B Lyall/N Ewing Ford Escort Cos 5 R Munro/G Brunton Ford Escort Cos 6 A Horne/J Howie MG Metro 7 N Dougan/C Wood Ford Escort Cos 8 J Christie/M Campbell MG Metro 9 S Smith/J Bennie Lancia Delta 10 R Duckworth/M Broomfield Ford Sierra First car leaves Aberdeen at 0801 29.03.96F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
Jean Alesi sparked a Benetton fightback on the opening day of practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. The Frenchman responded to criticism of Benetton by clocking the fastest time of the free practice sessions, edging out team-mate Gerhard Berger. Championship leader Damon Hill could only manage fifth fastest after seeing McLaren duo Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard move above him. Hill's team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, a superb second in the opening
Damon Hill faced up to the prospect of a double threat to his Brazilian Grand Prix victory chances and said: "It's not going to be a pushover." Hill had to settle for fifth place during the free practice session at Interlagos as Benetton and McLaren posted faster times. The 35-year-old revealed he was concentrating more on getting the Williams Renault set-up for Sunday. He said: "It would not be right for us to say they are not going to be a problem. They are looking competitive. It is going to be tough."
Irishman Eddie Irvine escaped uninjured on Friday when he crashed his Ferrari in opening free practice for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. Irvine, on his first lap of the resurfaced but once notoriously bumpy Aurodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos, lost control of his car. It appeared the impact was heavy, tearing at least two wheels from the car according to early reports. Irvine, however, stood up and walked away from his wrecked car which was quickly covered and brought back on a truck to the Ferrari garage in the pits.
Friday's free practice times: mins secs 1 J Alesi Fr Benetton 1:19.240 2 G Berger Aut Benetton 1:19.879 3 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:20.696 4 D Coulthard GB McLaren 1:20.852 5 D Hill GB Williams 1:20.938 6 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:21.006 7 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari 1:21.165 8 J Verstappen Hol Footwork 1:21.199 9 M Brundle GB Jordan 1:21.311 10 R Barrichello Brz Jordan 1:21.625 11 J Herbert GB Sauber 1:21.701 12 R Rosset Brz Footwork 1:21.706 13 H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:21.932 14 P Diniz Brz Ligier 1:22.005 15 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:22.040 16 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:22.144 17 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:22.162 18 T Marques Brz Minardi 1:22.447 19 P Lamy Por Minardi 1:22.964 20 A Montermini It Forti 1:25.601 21 L Badoer It Forti 1:26.331INDYCAR:- Championship leader Scott Pruett broke the Surfers Paradise lap record to claim provisional pole for Sunday's Australian Indy Grand Prix. He clocked 1 min 36.28 secs around the 4.5km street circuit, despite the track being slowed by changes to the back straight chicane since last year. "All I can say is that the car is running real well, the engine is performing real good and is real driveable," the 36-year-old said. Previous lap record holder Michael Andretti was second fastest.
pre> Friday practice times for Australian Indy GP at Surfers Paradise: mph 1 S Pruett US Lola Ford 104.46 2 M Andretti US Lola Ford 103.92 3 A Ribeiro Brz Lola Honda 103.52 4 G de Ferran Brz Reynard Honda 103.22 5 P Tracy Can Penske Merc 103.21 6 J Vasser US Reynard Honda 103.21 7 A Fernandez Mex Reynard Honda 103.12 8 G Moore Can Reynard Merc 102.97 9 R Gordon US Reynard Ford 102.95 10 B Rahal US Reynard Merc 102.75 11 C Fit'paldi Brz Lola Ford 102.48 12 P Johnstone US Reynard Honda 102.39 F3:- Silverstone's new international circuit stages the first two rounds of the Formula 3 Championship on Sunday. Britain's Jamie Davies and Ralph Firman were quickest overall in Thursday's official test session. Davies's time of 1 min 18.626 secs is a new unofficial lap record. The Championship takes place over 16 rounds, including a visit to Zandvoort, the first time the Championship has raced overseas since 1988.
Rounds 1 & 2 - Thursday test times: mins secs 1 J Davies Dallara-TWR 1:18.626 2 R Firman Dallara-Mugen 1:18.911 3 N Minassian Dallara-Ren 1:19.186 4 B Smith TOM'S Toyota 1:19.245 5 G Smith Dallara-Mitsub 1:19.272 6 D Manning Dallara-Mugen 1:19.340 7 J Kane Dallara-Mugen 1:19.457 8 K Mollekens Dallara-Mugen 1:19.473 9 J Matthews Dallara-Ren 1:19.493 10 JP Montoya Dallara-Mitsub 1:19.507 30.03.96 - F1: THE BRAZILIAN GPDamon Hill claimed the 12th pole spot of his Formula One career with a cool and confident display in his Williams. Hill produced a fast lap early in the qualifying session and then, having sat in the pits watching others try to match his pace, he calmly improved it. Jacques Villeneuve, third fastest, looked set to make it an all-Williams front row but went off at 140mph. He regained the track but damaged his car. This left local hero Rubens Barrichello on the front row for Sunday's race although he, too, survived a nasty moment in the final stage of qualifying.
After gaining pole position in Brazil for the second successive year, Damon Hill praised his Williams team. He said: "I have to thank the engineers at Williams, who did a brilliant job sorting out the car for the circuit, and also all at Renault. The car behaved itself very well. We have done a lot of homework over the last few days but the race will be a different matter." Rubens Barrichello, who joins Hill on the front row, admitted:"I expected third. I thought Jacques Villeneuve would take second."
Jordan have signed Italian Gianni Morbidelli as test and reserve driver for the remainder of the season. The 28-year-old will assist drivers Martin Brundle and Rubens Barrichello with an expanded 1996 test programme.
Qualifying times for Sunday's race:mins secs 1 D Hill GB Williams 1:18.111 2 R Barrichello Brz Jordan 1:19.092 3 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:19.254 4 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari 1:19.474 5 J Alesi Fr Benetton 1:19.484 6 M Brundle GB Jordan 1:19.519 7 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:19.607 8 G Berger Aut Benetton 1:19.762 9 H-H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:19.799 10 E Irvine GB Ferrari 1:19.951 11 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:20.000 12 J Herbert GB Sauber 1:20.144 13 J Verstappen Hol Footwork 1:20.157 14 D Coulthard GB McLaren 1:20.167 15 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:20.426 16 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:20.427 17 R Rosset Brz Footwork 1:20.440 18 P Lamy Por Minardi 1:21.491 19 L Badoer It Forti 1:23.174 20 A Montermini It Forti 1:23.454Olivier Panis (Fra) and Pedro Diniz (Brz) reinstated after successful appeals against disqualification
INDYCAR:- Jimmy Vasser drew level with compatriot Scott Pruett at the top of the drivers' championship after claiming pole for Sunday's GP at Surfers' Paradise. Vasser, driving a Reynard Honda, took pole for the first time in his five year Indycar career by setting a new lap record of 1 min 35.265 secs. Vasser moved alongside Pruett in the championship by winning the one competition point on offer for the fastest qualifier. He said: "The fastest lap was amazingly smooth and easy. I had a harder time with the car on the slower laps."
Saturday's final qualifying times for Sunday's Indy GP at Surfers Paradise: mins secs 1 J Vasser US Reynard Hon 1:35.265 (average speed of 169.88km/h) 2 S Pruett US Lola Ford 1:35.282 3 A Zanardi It Reynard Hon 1:35.549 4 P Tracy Can Penske Merc 1:35.987 5 M Andretti US Lola Ford 1:36.721 6 C Fit'paldi Brz Lola Ford 1:36.863 7 P Johnstone US Reynard Hon 1:37.023 8 G Moore Can Reynard Mer 1:37.026 9 A Ribeiro Brz Lola Honda 1:37.162 10 A Fernandez Mex Reynard Hon 1:37.195 11 M Gugelmin Brz Reynard Frd 1:37.311 12 G de Ferran Brz Reynard Hon 1:37.325F3:- Hull's Guy Smith took a surprise pole position for Sunday's opening round of the 1996 British F3 Championship. Smith, the reigning Formula Renault champion competing in his first F3 event, lapped the new international circuit at Silverstone in 1:18.663 in his Fortec Dallara-Mitsubishi. Second was Ralph Firman in a Dallara-Mugen in 1:18.979.
UK GTs:- Ian Flux set the pace in his McLaren F1 in first qualifying for the Privilege Insurance GT Championship, ahead of the factory Marcos of Cor Euser of Holland. and Thomas Erdos of Brazil.
31.03.96INDYCAR:- Jimmy Vasser drew level with compatriot Scott Pruett at the top of the drivers' championship after claiming pole for Sunday's GP at Surfers' Paradise. Vasser, driving a Reynard Honda, took pole for the first time in his five year Indycar career by setting a new lap record of 1 min 35.265 secs. Vasser moved alongside Pruett in the championship by winning the one competition point on offer for the fastest qualifier. He said: "The fastest lap was amazingly smooth and easy. I had a harder time with the car on the slower laps."
F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
Qualifying times for Sunday's race: mins secs 1 D Hill GB Williams 1:18.111 2 R Barrichello Brz Jordan 1:19.092 3 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:19.254 4 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari 1:19.474 5 J Alesi Fr Benetton 1:19.484 6 M Brundle GB Jordan 1:19.519 7 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:19.607 8 G Berger Aut Benetton 1:19.762 9 H-H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:19.799 10 E Irvine GB Ferrari 1:19.951 11 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:20.000 12 J Herbert GB Sauber 1:20.144 13 J Verstappen Hol Footwork 1:20.157 14 D Coulthard GB McLaren 1:20.167 15 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:20.426 16 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:20.427 17 R Rosset Brz Footwork 1:20.440 18 P Lamy Por Minardi 1:21.491 19 L Badoer It Forti 1:23.174 20 A Montermini It Forti 1:23.454 Olivier Panis (Fra) and Pedro Diniz (Brz) reinstated after successful appeals against disqualificationDamon Hill claimed the 12th pole spot of his Formula One career with a cool and confident display in his Williams. Hill produced a fast lap early in the qualifying session and then, having sat in the pits watching others try to match his pace, he calmly improved it. Jacques Villeneuve, third fastest, looked set to make it an all-Williams front row but went off at 140mph. He regained the track but damaged his car. This left local hero Rubens Barrichello on the front row for Sunday's race although he, too, survived a nasty moment in the final stage of qualifying.
After gaining pole position in Brazil for the second successive year, Damon Hill praised his Williams team. He said: "I have to thank the engineers at Williams, who did a brilliant job sorting out the car for the circuit, and also all at Renault. "The car behaved itself very well. We have done a lot of homework over the last few days but the race will be a different matter." Rubens Barrichello, who joins Hill on the front row, admitted:"I expected third. I thought Jacques Villeneuve would take second."
Silverstone-based Formula One team Jordan have signed Italian Gianni Morbidelli as test and reserve driver for the remainder of the season. The 28-year-old will assist drivers Martin Brundle and Rubens Barrichello with an expanded 1996 test programme.