February 1997

01.02.97 - INDYCAR
Mark Blundell was back at the Homestead Motorsports Complex on Saturday, a day after crashing at nearly 200mph in the CART series spring training. "He's fine, he's walking around the track," a circuit spokesman said. The official statement read: "Mark Blundell has been released from Jackson Memorial Hospital and returned to the track over the lunch hour." Blundell brushed the wall coming out of turn one of the Homestead oval and was entering turn two.

03.02.97 - F1
The new Jordan-Peugeot car for the 1997 season had its first run with Ralf Schumacher at the wheel and had team bosses hailing its potential. German Schumacher completed 28 trouble-free laps in a best time of 46.08 seconds at Silverstone. "It was fantastic to see the car in action it looks quite stunning. We have great hopes that this is the car which will take the team to the top rungs of the Formula One ladder," said Jordan managing director Eddie Jordan.

05.02.97 - F1
Frank Williams has signed a deal with Renault to have his Formula One cars fitted with their engines for the next three years. The V10 engines will be supplied via French firm Mecachrome for the next two seasons as Renault's direct involvement will stop after this campaign. Williams said: "It is wonderful news for the Williams team ` I can assure you of that. Also, I think it is very, very good news for Formula One."

Sauber are to unveil their new Formula One car on the Internet on February 10, shortly before it is tested for the first time at Fiorano in Italy.

06.02.97 - SWEDISH RALLY
Colin McRae is hopeful of registering his first win of 1997 in the 24-stage event, starting on Saturday. The Scot has had three podium placings in past years in the only specialist rally in the calendar. "The test in Sweden before Christmas went well and I'm pretty confident we can put in a good show," he said. Subaru won the opening event of the season in Monte Carlo through Piero Liatti, but are represented by McRae and Kennth Eriksson in Sweden.

SWEDISH RALLY:- Kenneth Eriksson outwitted teammate Colin McRae and Tommi Makinen to lead the competition after the second day. Eriksson grabbed the lead on stage four, lost it briefly to Makinen after stage six but regained it after a super performance at the end of the day. Super Scot McRae finished the day just seven seconds behind Eriksson despite a spin on the fourth stage. "We've fared well against the opposition. We are prepared for any conditions," enthused McRae.

Positions after 10 stages:         mins secs
 1  K Eriksson   Swe  Subaru        1:47.29
 2  C McRae      GB   Subaru        1:47.35
 3  C Sainz      Sp   Escort        1:47.54
 4  T Radstrom   Swe  Toyota        1:48.18
 5  T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi    1:49.15
 6  A Schwarz    Swe  Escort        1:49.32
 7  M Jonsson    Swe  Escort        1:49.44
 8  M Jansson    Swe  Toyota        1:49.59
 9  M Gronholm   Swe  Toyota        1:50.21
10  S Blomqvist  Swe  Escort        1:50.37
SNOWMAN RALLY:- Brian Lyall scored his first victory on home soil when he won the Thistle Snowman rally, the opening round of the Scottish Rally Championship at Inverness. Lyall finished almost two minutes clear of 52-year-old four-times Scottish champion Drew Gallacher. Last year's Snowman winner, Andy Horne, was lying second until the final stage when his Metro slid off the road leaving Lyall to secure victory. Alan Dickson finished third while John Burn was fourth.

Final positions:                 mins secs
 1  Lyall/Bennie      Subaru      49:57
 2  Gal'her/Sandham   Escort      51:52
 3  Dickson/Bisset    Escort      52:52
 4  Burn/Quirk        Metro       53:06
 5  Smith/Carstairs   Escort      53:08
 6  Dalgarno/Taylor   Escort      53:10
 7  Jaffry/McGowan    Escort      53:36
 8  Paterson/Harris   Subaru      53:49
 9  Munro/Brunton     Metro       54:07
10  Smith/Argo        Sunbeam     54:21

WYDEAN STAGES RALLY:- Yorkshireman Warren Philliskirk won the ten-stage Wydean Stages Rally in his MG Metro 6R4. He had just four seconds in hand on 1995 winner Andy Burotn, who debuted his new four-wheel drive Peugeot 306, which is fitted with a Metro engine. Alistair Tough pipped last year's winner David Jenkins for third place.

SWEDISH RALLY:- Colin McRae relinquished his lead to Spaniard Carlos Sainz, claiming the treacherous conditions were to blame. The Scot and his Subaru teammate Kenneth Eriksson, the overnight leader, were the pathfinders as they battled through snow and ice on the third day. McRae managed to grab the lead from Eriksson after the Swede suffered from gearbox problems, but slipped back falling foul of brake problems. "At the front of the field I've been sweeping the stages clear," said McRae.

Positions after 18 stages:         mins secs
 1  C Sainz      Sp   Escort        2:59.54
 2  C McRae      GB   Subaru        3:00.06
 3  K Eriksson   Swe  Subaru        3:00.21
 4  T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi    3:00.48
 5  T Radstrom   Swe  Toyota        3:01.57
 6  A Schwarz    Swe  Escort        3:02.57
 7  M Jansson    Swe  Toyota        3:03.09
 8  M Gronholm   Swe  Toyota        3:03.31
 9  M Jonsson    Swe  Escort        3:04.01
10  S Blomqvist  Swe  Escort        3:05.07

F1:- Jean Alesi set the fastest time in his Benetton on the final day of a four-day testing session in Jerez. The Frenchman clocked a best of 1:21.01 with Gerhard Berger second in 1:21.07 and Jacques Villeneuve third in his Williams FW19 in 1:21.25. Ralf Scumacher completed 45 laps in the Jordan-Peugeot 197 car. The German set a best time of 1:21.64 in the morning but there were problems after lunch with a second engine and only five laps were completed.

SWEDISH RALLY:- Sweden's Kenneth Eriksson delighted his home crowd by overcoming two changes of lead on the finaly day to seal victory. Eriksson and partner Staffan Parmander beat former world champion Carlos Sainz by 16 seconds with current champion Tommi Makinen third. Sainz had the consolation of taking the lead in the overall standings. Britain's Colin McRae had taken the lead from Sainz on the 20th stage after the Spaniard chose the wrong tyres, but he faded to finish fourth.

Colin McRae was disappointed to lose the lead and finish fourth after mixed fortunes on the final day. "In retrospect we could have made a better tyre choice, but that was very much the nature of the event this year," he said. His co-driver Nicky Grist said: "Before we had a chance to respond to the situation we were travelling backwards. Although we were devastated to lose so much time, it was the type of incident which could have ended our rally."

Final positions after 24 stages:   mins secs
 1  K Eriksson   Swe  Subaru        3:51.49
 2  C Sainz      Sp   Escort        3:52.05
 3  T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi    3:52.15
 4  C McRae      GB   Subaru        3:52.20
 5  T Radstrom   Swe  Toyota        3:54.47
 6  A Schwarz    Swe  Escort        3:55.45
 7  M Jansson    Swe  Toyota        3:55.47
 8  M Gronholm   Swe  Toyota        3:56.04
 9  M Jonsson    Swe  Escort        3:57.02
10  S Blomqvist  Swe  Escort        3:58.35

1  C Sainz      Sp            12 pts
2  P Liatti     It            10
=  K Eriksson   Swe           10
4  T Makinen    Fin            8
5  A Schwarz    Swe            4
6  C McRae      GB             3
7  U Nittel     Ger            2
=  T Radstrom   Swe            2
9  H Lundgard   Den            1

1  Subaru                     23 pts
2  Ford                       16
3  Mitsubishi                 10

11.02.97 - F1
McLaren have signed a five-year deal with British Aerospace to share their technical expertise, particularly for design development.

South African John Byrne will join Ferrari as chief designer next week. Byrne replaces John Barnard and will link up again with technical director Ross Brawn, who he formerly worked with at Benetton.

12.02.97 - F1
Michael Schumacher said he feels his Ferrari is not good enough to win this season's Formula One Championship after six days of testing at Estoril. "I don't yet have the car to become champion, but I hope to make progress this season," he said. "The car is faster and easier to drive."

13.03.97 - F1
Former world champion Alain Prost has bought Formula One team Ligier after agreeing a contract with Peugeot to use its engines from 1998. The new team, which will be called after Prost, will be officially unveiled on Friday. The deal was struck after Eddie Jordan, whose team have a contract with Peugeot, gave his agreement. The team will bear the name Prost-Mugen-Honda for the 1997 season until the Peugeot agreement begins at in 1998.

Confident Scot David Coulthard has tipped himself as a Formula One world champion of the future. "I'd dearly like to be world champion and believe I have the ability to do so," the McLaren driver said. "It's just a question of getting in the right car and the right package and proving it." He was speaking at the launch of their new silver MP4/12 car and said: "There is no question the car is better than last year."

14.02.97 - F1
The Australian Grand Prix will see the debut of the Alain Prost racing team, run by the four-times world champion. The 44-year-old, who won 55 of his 199 Grands Prix, has taken control of the Ligier team. He said: "My ambition is to have a title team that wins. With this team I can achieve that." The Prost cars will be powered by a Mugen-Honda engine this season, and then switch to Peugeot for at least three years.

15.02.97 - F1
Jan Magnussen was rushed to hospital after his Stewart Ford car crashed intobarriers during testing in Estoril. The Danish Formula One driver was later released after being cleared following a check-up. Magnussen lost control on the tight second bend of the Portuguese track and careered into the rails. It was the first of four days of tests for the team at the circuit.

17.02.97 - F1
Italian prosecutors will press on with the trial over Ayrton Senna's death, despite new evidence of track debris at Imola which may have caused his crash. Senna died after careering into a wall at 180mph in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix and a photograph in the Sunday Times showed rubble on the circuit. This will be accepted as evidence when the court case opens on Thursday. Frank Williams and two other members of his team, for which Senna drove, are facing manslaughter charges.

Four-times world champion Alain Prost's takeover of Ligier started impressively in testing at Magny Cours. Frenchman Olivier Panis, who set the quickest time during testing at Barcelona, set a best lap of one minute 13.25 seconds. It was quicker than the circuit record of 1:13.86 by Nigel Mansell from pole position at the 1992 French Grand Prix. "We've tried a number of things here and it's really beginning to take shape," said Panis.

18.02.97 - F1
Formula One cars will be fitted with accident data recorders for the first time ever this season. The safety devices will be similar to the black boxes used in airplanes and they will gather info˛mation on what happens before and during a crash. FIA president Max Moseley said of the measure: "The implications for safety are very encouraging." The formula one season starts with the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit on March 9.

Motor racing events in Italy are likely to be decimated if Frank Williams is convicted of manslaughter over the death of Ayrton Senna three years ago. The head of the Williams' team and five others go on trial in Imola on Thursday FIA president Max Mosley has already hinted that the world governing body would take some action if the six are found guilty. The world body could withdraw approval for the 34 events held in Italy, including the San Marino Grand Prix.

The Italian Grand Prix is to be held at Monza for another ten years despite opposition from environmentalists. The Monza city council have extended a contract to hold the Formula One race on the track inside the city's huge park until 2007. Disputes between environmentalists and track officials over cutting down trees to extend the racetrack's safety zone jeopardized the race in 1994 and 1995. Officials will now seek a 10-year renewal of their Formula One contract.

Jacques Villeneuve broke the Estoril lap record after a thrilling battle with the Benetton pair of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi in testing. The Canadian, favourite for this year's Formula One world championship, clocked one minute 18.36 seconds. He eclipse Berger's time of 1:18.66, while Alesi was third on 1:18.75. They all were below Damon Hill's pole position time of 1:20.330 for last year's Portuguese Grand Prix.

F1:- The trial of Frank Williams and five others charged with manslaughter over Ayrton Senna's death in 1994 was adjourned on the opening day. Imola track director Federico Bendinelli was the only one of the six defendants to turn up. The trial was adjourned after three hours until February 28. Bendinelli told reporters no one should be held responsible for the freak accident in which Senna had been killed.

German Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished fastest as Williams Renault ended six days of testing at Estoril in Portugal. Frentzen recorded a time of one minute 18.93 seconds as Canadian team mate Jacques Villeneuve, who posted a lap record 1:18.36 on Tuesday, was rested. Benetton's Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger were also in fine form on their final test outing, and clocked 1:19.00 secs and 1:19.53 seconds respectively.

Lola have launched their team car for the 1997 Formula One season. Lola are one of the most famous names in motor-sport, and are the second longest established team behind Ferrari competing this season. They have won the Indycar Series in America five times and the Indy 500 three times but have never tasted consistent success in Formula One. The Lola T97-30 will be powered by Ford Zetec engines until Lola can develop its own V10.

UK NEWS:- The Association of Motor Racing Circuit Owners, which covers the 14 permanent race circuits in Britain and Ireland are to implement new noise limits. The new limits, endorsed by the RACMSA, come into force in 1998 and will greatly reduce the impact of noise at circuits during race and testing days.

BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Stig Blomqvist will join up with Skoda again to enter the 1997 RAC British Rally Championship. The 50-year-old Swede took the F2 World Championship honours and finished third overall in last year's RAC event. He won the British Rally Championship back in 1983 in an Audi quattro and was crowned world champion 12 months later. "It's going to be a great challenge," he said. "We all know about the British weather and I'm sure we can cause a few more shocks whatever the conditions."

WINTER RALLY:- Many of Britain's top drivers compete in the season's opening event - the Bournemouth Winter Rally - which starts at 8.00 on Saturday morning. The seven-round championship takes competitors all over Britain from Aberdeen to the Isle of Man and on three trips to the Welsh forests. Champion Chris Mellors will not be defending his crown so last season's runner-up Steve Hill is the favourite. The one-day Bournemouth event consists of 18 mixed surface stages.

22.02.97 - WINTER RALLY

Bournemouth Winter Rally
Final Result after 18 stages: mins secs 
 1 R Munro      MG Metro      1:03.18
 2 S Hill       Mitsubishi    1:03.55
 3 S Smith      Lancia        1:04.24
 4 M Grierson   Subaru Imp    1:04.31
 5 M Dodd       Ford Escort   1:04.54
 6 N Worswick   Ford Sierra   1:05.20
 7 S Dalgarno   Ford Escort   1:07.10
 8 P Vassallo   Subaru        1:07.36
 9 R Davies     Ford Escort   1:08.02
10 S Petch      Subaru        1:08.18

24.02.97 - TOURING CARS
Five former British Touring Car Champions are on the official entry list for the 1997 Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship. Reigning champion Frank Biela leads the field but he faces pressure from 1995 winner John Cleland and Gabriele Tarquini, back after a year's absence. The 1992 champion Tim Harvey will try to end Peugeot's winless streak while Will Hoy has joined Ford. The new season starts at Donington Park on Easter Monday.

ENTRY LIST: F Biela, P Radisich, A Menu, L Brookes, R Rydell, J Brunstedt, D Leslie, C Callie, J Bintcliffe, G Tarquini, J Cleland, J Plato, W Hoy, A Reid, J Thompson, J Wall, K Burt, M Neal, T Harvey, D Warwick, P Watts.

27.02.97 - SAFARI RALLY
Spanish ace Carlos Sainz heads into this weekend's event as a firm contender for victory. The Kenya-based event, the third round of the championship and historically the longest and toughest rally on the calendar, has a new, shorter format. "We have already spent a lot of time in Africa preparing for this rally," said Sainz, who won the event in 1992. The three-day competition is unique in that all its stages take place on open public roads.