September 1997

INDYCAR:- Mauricio Gugelmin of Brazil won the the Vancouver CART Grand Prix in a Reynard Mercedes-Benz. Jimmy Vasser of the United States was second in a Reynard Honda followed by Brazil's Gil de Ferran, also in a Reynard Honda. Gugelmin took the lead with 14 laps to go and easily held off Vasser. "I knew we could do it," he said. "I just had to be consistent and stay out of trouble." Britain's Mark Blundell finished in seventh place.

Sunday's final positions:   hr mins secs
 1 M Gugelmin   Brz Reynard   1:47.17
 2 J Vasser     US  Reynard   1:47.20
 3 G de Ferran  Brz Reynard   1:47.21
 4 A Zanardi    It  Reynard   1:47.25
 5 A Unser Jr   It  Reynard   1:47.34
 6 R Boesel     Brz Swift     1:47.41
 7 M Blundell   GB  Reynard   1:47.48
 8 B Herta      US  Reynard   1:47.48
 9 C Fittipaldi Brz Swift     1:46.40
10 A Ribeiro    Brz Reynard   1:47.37

SILVERSTONE:- Silverstone will be closed on Saturday as a mark of respect for Diana, Princess of Wales. The race meeting scheduled for that day is cancelled, as are all Driving Centre activities planned for Saturday. Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship qualifying at Brands Hatch has also been cancelled but the two races on Sunday will go ahead.

TOURING CARS (Brands Hatch):- Saturday's qualifying sessions have been abandoned as a mark of respect on the day of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Grid positions for Sunday's rounds 21 and 22 will be decided in a unique way. The line-up for the first race will be settled by lap times in a Sunday morning warm-up session. The grid for the second race will be determined by the fastest lap times recorded during the first 38-lap round at Brands Hatch.

Thruxton will now host the opening rounds of the 1998 BTCC on April 12/13. Donington Park was due to kick off the campaign but this has been changed because the circuit will be holding a motorcycling event on those dates. The BTCC moves to Donington on May 3/4.

DRAG RACING:- Barry Sheavills from Nottingham could become the first British drag racer to win the FIA Top Fuel Championship at Santa Pod on September 12-14.

Monza has staged the Italian Grand Prix since 1950, with the exception of just one year. It has long straights, fast corners and quick chicanes. To stop drivers hitting the high kerbs on the chicanes, tyre stacks were put in place last year. But Jacques Villeneuve clipped the tyres and limped home in seventh. Damon Hill hit them while leading on lap six and was forced to retire.

Michael Schumacher is out to extend his championship lead with a victory on Sunday, while delighting the Tifosi. He won in Monza last year to send the fans of his Italian team Ferrari wild. The German leads Jacques Villeneuve by 12 points but admitted: "It is a nice margin but with five races remaining it is still not a definite situation. It's going to be difficult because from what I saw in the test at Monza last week Giancarlo Fisichella and Mika Hakkinen are going to be very fast."

Jacques Vižleneuve is confident he can close the gap on Michael Schumacher and open up the title race again on Sunday. "As long as we can qualify well and avoid problems at the start at the first chicane, then everything should be fine," he said. "We have had some good testing in Monza. We're doing some more before the race and I think the car will be pretty strong there. I am looking forward to racing there and eating up a bit of Michael's lead."

Damon Hill has still not clarified who he will be driving for next season but a reasonable finish at Monza could help his bargaining position. The world champion rejected McLaren and is thought to have had talks with Prost and Sauber. But after his heroics in Hungary, where he was second in the Arrows-Yamaha, he was overshadowed by team-mate Pedro Diniz in Spa. Hill won the Italian Grand Prix for Williams in 1993 and 1994.

Jordan are still without a grand prix win but after his second-place finish at Spa, Giancarlo Fisichella is favourite to complete the fairytale. The Italian revealed: "My goal now is victory. We have a good chance. The circuit is similar to Hockenheim and we saw how well the car raced there. There will be lots of pressure, not only because this is my home circuit but because the team and I are so keen to win. But I like pressure. It helps me to push myself."

Ferrari lead the constructors' title race by eight points over Williams and Eddie Irvine will be aiming to extend that advantage. The Irishman's last race at Spa was ended by a last-lap collision. He is contracted to the Italian team again next season, and said: "I would like to forget those days that have been difficult for me. I cannot wait to be back with the Ferrari fans at Monza as I am sure they will give me a lot of support."

Previous winners:
1996 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari
1995 J Herbert      GB  Benetton
1994 D Hill         GB  Williams
1993 D Hill         GB  Williams
1992 A Senna        Brz McLaren
1991 N Mansell      GB  Williams
1990 A Senna        Brz McLaren
1989 A Prost        Fr  McLaren
1988 G Berger       Aut Ferrari
1987 N Piquet       Brz Williams

F1:- Mika Hakkinen has been stripped of his third-place finish in the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago. The International Automobile Federation (FIA) have also fined McLaren £33,000 after they were found guilty of using a non-conforming fuel. It is good news for Williams as Heinz- Harald Frentzen moves from fourth to third and Jacques Villeneuve goes up to fifth from sixth. It means Ferrari's and Michael Schumacher's lead is reduced.

The news that Mika Hakkinen has been stripped of his third place in the Belgian Grand Prix has boosted Jacques Villeneuve's title hopes. The Williams driver has been lifted from sixth to fifth in the placings for last month's race and is now 11 points behind Michael Schumacher. And the German insisted the drivers' race is far from over. "It's still open, anything can happen," he said. "But it is better to go ahead in the points than behind."

 1 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari   66 pts
 2 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams  55
 3 HH Frentzen   Ger  Williams  23
 4 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton  22
 5 G Berger      Aut  Benetton  21
 6 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari   18
 7 O Panis       Fr   Prost     15
 8 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren   14 *
 = D Coulthard   GB   McLaren   14
 = G Fisichella  It   Jordan    14
 = J Herbert     GB   Sauber    14
12 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan    11
13 D Hill        GB   Arrows     7
* Hakkinen stripped of Spa third place

 1 Ferrari               84 points
 2 Williams-Renault      78
 3 Benetton-Renault      47
 4 McLaren-Mercedes      28
 5 Jordan-Peugeot        25
 6 Prost-Mugen-Honda     20
 7 Sauber-Petronas       15
 8 Arrows-Yamaha          7
 9 Stewart-Ford           6
10 Tyrrell-Ford           2

Benetton and Jordan are taking their battle over driver Giancarlo Fisichella to the High Court next week. Nicholas Strauss QC, representing Benetton, told Mr Justice Laddie a quick decision was needed because one party would have to find a new driver. Mr Justice Laddie said: "Hill's available." Mr Strauss added: "We are aware of that." Fisichella is currently at Jordan as part of a loan deal from Benetton, who want him back for next season.

Olivier Panis has made a return to driving less than three months after breaking both legs in an accident at the Canadian Grand Prix. The Prost driver had a try-out in a Formula Three car on the Le Castellet track on Wednesday. The Frenchman, who was replaced by Italian Jarno Trulli, has had his contract with Prost extended. After his try-out, Panis said he felt "comfortable" and is expected at the circuit in a Formula One car next week.

TOURING CARS:- The driver, manufacturer and team titles have already been won by Alain Menu and the Williams-Renault team but Jason Plato wants the runner-up spot. Menu's team-mate is the only driver to have headed the champion in this year's title race but he will need to overhaul 1996 champion Frank Biela to be second. Rickard Rydell, in his Volvo S40, is another contender. Meanwhile, Scot Colin Gallie heads the independent entries' chase for the Total Cup in his BMW 320i.

F.FORD:- Brazil's Ricardo Sperafico set the fastest time - 46.119 seconds - in testing for Sunday's Formula Ford Championship race at Brands Hatch. Jacky Van Der Ende needs a top-five finish to take the title.

SPORTSCARS:- BMW are developing a car for 24-hour races with Nigel Mansell tipped as the driver, according to a German magazine. The German company have already been rumoured to be linking up with Williams on the Formula One circuit in 1999 as Renault are pulling out of the sport.

F1:- Damon Hill is set to sign a £5m deal to drive for the Prost team next season. The French outfit, headed by ex-world champion Alain Prost, are ready to give the Arrows ace the money he wants to keep him among the top earners. He rejected a £2.8m offer from Prost last week but the world champion is now understood to have agreed terms with his former Williams team-mate. Hill said: "I have a very good idea where I will be next year. It's a matter of getting things sorted out."

Williams star Heinz-Harald Frentzen notched the fastest time in opening practice, finishing just ahead of team-mate Jacques Villeneuve. Championship leader Michael Schumacher was 13th fastest in front of his Ferrari team's home fans. Benetton's Jean Alesi was third fastest and David Coulthard was fourth. Damon Hill was 16th quickest, Eddie Irvine eighth and Johnny Herbert, wearing a black armband as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, was 12th.

Damon Hill has called on his fellow British competitors at the Italian Grand Prix to observe a minute's silence for Diana, Princess of Wales. Hill said: "In this very sad moment I would like to pay my respects to her memory. Tomorrow I will stand in the pit-lane for one minute of silence." Jackie Stewart, a close friend of the British Royal Family, said he was hoping a formal tribute could be made for the late Princess.

Benetton have announced that director Flavio Briatore will leave the team at the end of this season. President Alessandro Benetton hinted that Britore sees his future elsewhere. Briatore himself would not be drawn on his future plans but said they would not be linked to motor racing. "As regards my future, don't worry. It is rosy," he said. "But don't imagine that it will be in motor racing."

Friday's practice times:       min secs
 1 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams 1:23.991
 2 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams 1:24.837
 3 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton 1:24.847
 4 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren  1:25.050
 = G Fisichella  It   Jordan   1:25.050
 6 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren  1:25.096
 7 J Trulli      It   Prost    1:25.317
 8 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari  1:25.340
 9 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan   1:25.422
10 J Magnussen   Den  Stewart  1:25.488
11 G Berger      Aut  Benetton 1:25.559
12 J Herbert     GB   Sauber   1:25.845
13 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari  1:26.224
14 P Diniz       Brz  Arrows   1:26.246
15 R Barrichello Brz  Stewart  1:26.421
16 D Hill        GB   Arrows   1:26.502
17 M Salo        Fin  Tyrrell  1:26.608
18 G Morbidelli  It   Sauber   1:26.696
19 S Nakano      Jpn  Prost    1:26.727
20 J Verstappen  Hol  Tyrrell  1:26.755
21 U Katayama    Jpn  Minardi  1:26.891
22 T Marques     Brz  Benetton 1:28.388

TOURING CARS:- Prospects of an action-packed pair of championship rounds on Sunday were given a boost by one of the closest- fought test sessions this season. With the top 12 runners all inside the qualifying record for the Brands Indy circuit - covered by less than half a second - the omens look good. Anthony Reid was top for the Nissan team with a 44.270secs lap with 1996 champion Frank Biela second for Audi. Newly crowned champion Alain Menu was sixth-fastest in a Renault.

Official testing positions(Friday)secs
 1 A Reid       GB  Nissan    44.270
 2 F Biela      Ger Audi      44.462
 3 R Rydell     Swe Volvo     44.480
 4 G Tarquini   It  Honda     44.517
 5 J Plato      GB  Renault   44.566
 6 A Menu       Swi Renault   44.578
 7 J Thompson   GB  Honda     44.600
 8 D Leslie     GB  Nissan    44.641
 9 J Bintcliffe GB  Audi      44.669
10 P Radisich   NZ  Ford      44.705
11 W Hoy        GB  Ford      44.711
12 K Burt       GB  Volvo     44.744

Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert led a minute's silence in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, before qualifying for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. Teams right along the pits emerged from their garages to pay their respects as the funeral began in London. Hill and Herbert wore mourning armbands and were joined by commentator Murray Walker and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. Hill had been handed the trophy by Princess Diana when he won the 1994 British GP at Silverstone.

Damon Hill spoke of his sorrow after leading the drivers in a minute's silence at the Italian Grand Prix. He said: "There is an enormous depth of feeling for the Princess right around the world and it showed here in Italy. Everyone is aware of what's been going on back home today. It was impossible to ignore it and we were all listening to the service and the speeches." Herbert said: "We had to do something for her. She was a great ambassador for the country."

Frenchman Jean Alesi claimed only the second pole position of his 131-race career at the Italian Grand Prix. The Benetton driver, whose previous pole was also at Monza in 1994, just edged out Heinz-Harald Frentzen by 52 thousandths of a second. Giancarlo Fisichella took third spot just 0.076 of a second off what would have been his first top spot. Jacques Villeneuve was fourth fastest but Michael Schumacher managed only ninth and Damon Hill 14th.

Saturday's qualifying times:   min secs
 1 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton 1:22.990
 2 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams 1:23.042
 3 G Fisichella  It   Jordan   1:23.066
 4 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams 1:23.231
 5 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren  1:23.340
 6 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren  1:23.347
 7 G Berger      Aut  Benetton 1:23.443
 8 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan   1:23.603
 9 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari  1:23.624
10 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari  1:23.891
11 R Barrichello Brz  Stewart  1:24.177
12 J Herbert     GB   Sauber   1:24.242
13 J Magnussen   Den  Stewart  1:24.394
14 D Hill        GB   Arrows   1:24.482
15 S Nakano      Jpn  Prost    1:24.553
16 J Trulli      It   Prost    1:24.567
17 P Diniz       Brz  Arrows   1:24.639
18 G Morbidelli  It   Sauber   1:24.735
19 M Salo        Fin  Tyrrell  1:25.693
20 J Verstappen  Hol  Tyrrell  1:25.845
21 U Katayama    Jpn  Minardi  1:26.655
22 T Marques     Brz  Benetton 1:27.677

INDYCAR:- Britain's Mark Blundell clocked the third fastest time in the provisional qualifying session for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca. Blundell, who has two wins in the CART Indycar world series, lapped the 2.238-mile circuit at 68.767 seconds. Championship leader Alex Zanardi led the way with 68.339. Blundell said: "The engineers and mechanics gave me a good car. We would dearly love to be on the front row as opposed to the second row."


Race result (53 laps):        hr min sec
 1 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:17.04.60
 2 J Alesi       Fr  Benetton     @01.93
 3 H-H Frentzen  Ger Williams     @04.34
 4 G Fisichella  It  Jordan       @05.87
 5 J Villeneuve  Can Williams     @06.41
 6 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari      @11.48
 7 G Berger      Aut Benetton     @12.47
 8 E Irvine      GB  Ferrari      @17.63
 9 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren      @49.37
10 J Trulli      It  Prost     @01.02.70
11 S Nakano      Jpn Prost     @01.03.32
12 G Morbidelli  It  Sauber    @ 1 lap
13 R Barrichello Brz Stewart   @ 1 lap
14 T Marques     Brz Minardi   @ 3 laps

Not classified:
15 D Hill        GB  Arrows     46 comp
16 R Schumacher  Ger Jordan     39
17 J Herbert     GB  Sauber     38
18 M Salo        Fin Tyrrell    33
19 J Magnussen   Den Stewart    31
20 J Verstappen  Hol Tyrrell    12
21 U Katayama    Jpn Minardi     8
22 P Diniz       Brz Arrows      4

 1 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari   67 pts
 2 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams  57
 3 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton  28
 4 HH Frentzen   Ger  Williams  27
 5 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren   24
 6 G Berger      Aut  Benetton  21
 7 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari   18
 8 G Fisichella  It   Jordan    17
 9 O Panis       Fr   Prost     15
10 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren   14
 = J Herbert     GB   Sauber    14
12 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan    11
13 D Hill        GB   Arrows     7

 1 Ferrari               85 points
 2 Williams-Renault      84
 3 Benetton-Renault      53
 4 McLaren-Mercedes      38
 5 Jordan-Peugeot        28
 6 Prost-Mugen-Honda     20
 7 Sauber-Petronas       15
 8 Arrows-Yamaha          7
 9 Stewart-Ford           6
10 Tyrrell-Ford           2

David Coulthard repaid McLaren's faith in him by claiming his second grand prix victory of the season and the third of his career. The Scot, who has signed a new deal to keep him with McLaren next season, won the opening race of 1997 in Australia but has taken just four points since. Jean Alesi was second, with championship rivals Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher fifth and sixth. Damon Hill went out on lap 46. Johnny Herbert was unscathed after a crash.

David Coulthard dedicated his Italian Grand Prix victory to the memory of Princess Diana after he won at Monza. He said: "I was very aware of the mood of the country back home. I had the pleasure of meeting her at Silverstone in 1995 when I finished second in the British Grand Prix. I still have a picture of her and the princes up at home. For me, it was a very emotional moment today when the anthem was playing and the crowd was there on the track below me."

David Coulthard's victory has moved him up to fifth in the drivers' race and he admitted that his car was suited to the quick Monza track. "On this type of circuit the McLarens are very strong," he confirmed. "And I had a good start. That was the key to winning today." A quicker pit-stop than long-time leader Jean Alesi also helped. They went in for a fuel stop together but the Scot was first away and beat the Frenchman by under two seconds.

Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard have been hit with suspended one-race bans for failing to slow down when a yellow flag was shown in the warm-up. The 26-year-old Canadian, who drives for Williams, was given a one-race ban, suspended for nine races, just three hours before the start of the race. The race stewards said in a statement that it was Villeneuve's third such offence this year. Villeneuve can appeal to the race stewards about the ban.

Damon Hill was left frustrated after his race ended seven laps from the finish because his Arrows-Yamaha suffered an engine problem. The world champion, who has been tipped to join Prost next season, was in ninth place at the time and said: "It was a small engine problem. Mika Hakkinen was right behind me and I think I buried him in oil. It was hard work because I was battling with the Prosts but all that hard work was for nothing in the end."

Johnny Herbert hit out at Ralf Schumacher after a collision that led to the Briton crashing into a tyre barrier and out of the race at 200mph. The Sauber ace was unhurt after he went into the gravel when he touched wheels with the German's Jordan on lap 39. But he exclaimed: "What he doesn't seem to understand is in very high-speed places like that you must give the other guy racing room and he didn't. It was the sign of an inexperienced driver who still has a lot to learn."

TOURING CARS:- Alain Menu and Renault were left in the shade for once as last year's champion Frank Biela won round 21 and Rickard Rydell triumphed in the second race. Menu, the 1997 champion, had to be content with two third places but did hand second place to team-mate Jason Plato on the final lap of race one. Rookie Plato was looking to boost his hopes of finishing overall runner-up. The Total Cup fight will go down to the wire at Silverstone and is between Robb Gravett, Colin Gallie and Lee Brookes.

Round 21 result:            mins secs
 1 F Biela      Ger Audi    29:12.007
 2 J Plato      GB  Renault 29:13.879
 3 A Menu       Swi Renault 29:14.470
 4 J Bintcliffe GB  Audi    29:22.022
 5 T Harvey     GB  Peugeot 29:25.944
 6 D Leslie     GB  Nissan  29:27.257
 7 W Hoy        GB  Ford    29:27.563
 8 P Watts      GB  Peugeot 29:44.916
 9 L Brookes    GB  Peugeot 29:56.769
10 R Gravett    GB  Honda   29:15.431

Round 22 result:            mins secs
 1 R Rydell     Swe Volvo   29:04.698
 2 A Reid       GB  Nissan  29:08.260
 3 A Menu       Swi Renault 29:12.907
 4 P Radisich   NZ  Ford    29:15.153
 5 F Biela      Ger Audi    29:15.589
 6 K Burt       GB  Volvo   29:16.028
 7 G Tarquini   It  Honda   29:16.380
 8 D Leslie     GB  Nissan  29:26.798
 9 T Harvey     GB  Peugeot 29:28.072
10 P Watts      GB  Peugeot 29:32.915

DRIVER STANDINGS                  Pts
1 A Menu     Swi Renault Laguna   271
2 F Biela    Ger Audi A4          168
3 J Plato    GB  Renault Laguna   144
4 R Rydell   Swe Volvo S40        133
5 J Thompson GB  Honda Accord     120
6 J B'cliffe GB  Audi A4          119

1 Renault              268 pts
2 Audi                 209
3 Honda                197
4 Volvo                186
5 Nissan               141

INDYCAR:- Britain's Mark Blundell will start from the second row of the grid in Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Blundell, who has two wins in the CART Indycar world series, was fourth fastest behind Bryan Herta, who took pole with a lap speed of 118.666mph. "I'm still happy. I had a couple of hairy moments but that's normal in qualifying," said Blundell. "Our first set of tyres were completely wasted because of the traffic and red lights but I'm confident for the race."

Grid for Sunday's race:      mins secs
 1 B Herta      US  Reynard   1:07.895
 2 A Zanardi    It  Reynard   1:08.339
 3 S Pruett     US  Reynard   1:08.681
 4 M Blundell   Eng Reynard   1:08.735
 5 M Gugelmin   Brz Reynard   1:08.769
 6 J Vasser     US  Reynard   1:08.849
 7 G Moore      US  Reynard   1:08.992
 8 M Jourdain   Can Reynard   1:09.013
 9 G de Ferran  Brz Reynard   1:09.055
10 A Ribeiro    Brz Lola      1:09.062
13 D Franchitti Sco Reynard   1:09.338

F1:- Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone wants to shoot a movie based on the life of the late, great Ayrton Senna and use actual Formula One drivers and footage. He has signed a deal with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone because footage is the exclusive property of the Formula One constructors authority. Sharon Stone has reportedly agreed to be in the film.

F.FIESTA CHAMPIONSHIP:- Gareth Downing earned his fourth win of the year in the penultimate round of the Ford Fiesta Championship at Brands.

F.RENAULT:- Marc Hynes needs just three points from the final round of the Formula Renault Sport Championship at Silverstone in a fortnight to take the title. Hynes notched his sixth win of the season at Brands Hatch, while main rival Etienne van der Linde was third.

F.FORD:- Jacky van der Ende won the penultimate round of the Formula Ford Championship at Brands Hatch to win the title.

TOURING CARS:- Robb Gravett holds a slender lead going into the final two races of the Total Cup touring cars season. Colin Gallie and Lee Brookes both trail him by five points and could overhaul him at Silverstone in a fortnight. Brookes won both Total Cup races in rounds 21 and 22 at Brands on Sunday.

F1:- Monza Grand Prix winner David Coulthard has criticised Damon Hill for spurning the chance to join him at McLaren. Coulthard feels Hill may live to regret his decision not to come on board at McLaren after he reportedly turned down their offer to move to Prost next year. "We will never know if Damon has made a mistake," said Coulthard. "I don't even know if the reports are true. All I know is that money should not be the sole priority, but the opportunity to win races."

Williams will use BMW engines when the German motor company returns to Formula One in the year 2000. The team, led by British boss Frank Williams have decided to switch from their association with current engine manufacturers Renault. Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, marketing director for BMW's motorsport division, said: "The timing and the partners for this project were chosen with great care. The engine of the new car, the 'BMW Williams', will be designed in Munich.

September 8 standings:          Points
 1 A Zanardi     CART             887
 2 M Schumacher  Formula 1        859
 3 J Gordon      NASCAR           743
 4 G de Ferran   CART             713
 5 T Kanaan      Indy Lights      694
 6 J Villeneuve  Formula 1        681
 7 A Menu        Brit Tour Cars   627
 8 D Jarrett     NASCAR           619
 9 H C'sro Neves Indy Lights      615
10 C de Matta    Indy Lights      582

FITTIPALDI:- Twice world Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi broke his back in a plane crash in Brazil. Fittipaldi, champ in 1972 and 1974, was piloting the ultralight with his six- year-old son on board when the engine stalled and they plunged into a swamp. A doctor said: "The swamp saved them. If they had fallen on solid ground they surely would have been killed." X-rays revealed a fracture in the 50-year-old's second vertebra but his son Luca escaped unscathed.

INDYCAR:- Britain's Mark Blundell had to be content with second place in the Toyota Grand Prix at Laguna Seca as American Jimmy Vasser won by .548 seconds. Vasser's Reynard Honda teammate Alessandro Zanardi finished third to clinch the CART Indy car championship. "If I have to give up the Cup to anybody, this is the guy I want to give it to," Vasser said. On lap 57, Zanardi tried to pass Blundell in the hairpin but went into the sand before making his recovery.

Sunday's result:
 1 J Vasser     US  Reynard
 2 M Blundell   Eng Reynard
 3 A Zanardi    It  Reynard
 4 A Ribeiro    Brz Lola
 5 G de Ferran  Brz Reynard
 6 B Herta      US  Reynard
 7 G Salles     Brz Ford
 8 R Boesel     Brz Ford
 9 M Gugelmin   Brz Reynard
10 R Moreno     Brz Mercedes
13 D Franchitti Sco Reynard

F1:- Damon Hill's rival in the race to be the No 1 driver with Alain Prost's team next year has made a successful return from injury in France. Olivier Panis, who broke both legs in a crash at the Canadian GP in June, tested his Prost-Mugen at Magny-Cours. The Frenchman lapped the track in 1 min 14.5 secs - equalling the time Michael Schumacher clocked to claim pole at this year's French Grand Prix. Prost said: "Olivier's performance has impressed me enormously."

MANX RALLY:- Five of Britain's best rally drivers battle for the championship which ends on the Isle of Man this weekend. Alister McRae knows that if he finishes first or second in his Volkswagen Golf GTi, then the title will be his for the second time in three years. McRae said: "There are 240 stage miles, which makes it twice as long as some of the events, so reliability is the key." Defending champion Gwyndaf Evans in his Ford Escort needs outright victory and McRae to finish no higher than third.

Renault Megane driver Robbie Head is favourite for the event, but needs McRae to finish seventh or lower and Evans no higher than third. Manxman Mark Higgins took his first victory on the Ulster, but needs another win and McRae to be fourth or lower and Evans no better than third. Martin Rowe is also on home ground in the second Megane, but needs the lead quartet to retire to take the title. In the manufacturers' title race, Ford and Volkswagen are tied on 51 points.

INDYCAR:- It is hoped the proposed changes to the Indianapolis 500 could heal the split between the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams. The four days of qualifying are set to be reduced to one weekend and practice would be cut from two weeks to one. Rookie orientation would take place on May 6-8, practice May 9-15, time trials 16-17 and Carburetion Day on May 21. A factor in the CART-IRL split was that teams spent so much money on engines in May because of so many practice days.

Manx International Rally
LEADERBOARD after 10 of 32 stages:
(interim)                        min sec
 1 Head/Thomas        Renault      40:14
 2 Evans/Davies       Ford         40:15
 3 Rowe/Beech         Renault      40:34
 4 Higgins/Mills      Nissan       40:39
 5 McRae/Senior       Volkswagen   41:28
 6 Laukkanen/Man'maki Volkswagen   42:09
 7 Milner/McMath      Toyota       43:07
 8 McKinstry/McCrea   SEAT         43:30
 9 Mann/Cook          Proton       43:33
10 Reynolds/Harris    Ford         43:53

LEADERBOARD after 11 of 32 stages:
(interim)                        min sec
 1 Evans/Davies       Ford         52:30
 2 Head/Thomas        Renault      52:32
 3 Rowe/Beech         Renault      52:51
 4 Higgins/Mills      Nissan       52:57
 5 McRae/Senior       Volkswagen   53:42
 6 Laukkanen/Man'maki Volkswagen   55:43
 7 Milner/McMath      Toyota       56:31
 8 Mann/Cook          Proton       56:34
 9 McKinstry/McCrea   SEAT         56:37
10 Higgins/Wood       Subaru       57:02
Gwyndaf Evans' chances of claiming a second consecutive Mobil 1 Championship title increased when he moved into the lead of the Manx International Rally. The Welshman took the advantage from Robbie Head after Cronkdoo stage: "It's all going very well. We were using slick tyres when it rained but I think that also affected the others." Martin Rowe moved into third place behind Renault Maxi Megane team-mate Head, whose mechanics changed the gearbox to fit a differential better suited to the wet conditions.

Points leader Alister McRae endured a troublesome handful of stages. On the fourth stage a failed hand brake meant the Volkswagen driver had to reverse to get through two tight chicanes. Driving rains on the northern face of the Isle of Man made the going treacherous for the drivers. The three-day, 250-mile event, started from Douglas at 13.45 today and finishes in the town at 15.20 on Saturday.

LEADERBOARD after 12 of 32 stages:
(interim)                      hr min sec
 1 Evans/Davies       Ford       1:11:06
 2 Head/Thomas        Renault    1:11:17
 3 Higgins/Mills      Nissan     1:11:25
 4 Rowe/Beech         Renault    1:11:31
 5 McRae/Senior       Volkswagen 1:12:33
 6 Laukkanen/Man'maki Volkswagen 1:15:35
 7 Mann/Cook          Proton     1:16:17
 8 Milner/McMath      Toyota     1:16:26
 9 Reynolds/Harris    Ford       1:17:02
10 McKinstry/McCrea   SEAT       1:17:36
Gwyndaf Evans holds the overnight lead of the final round of the Mobil 1 Championship, the Manx International Rally, after an exciting opening day. The Welshman, driving the striking silver Ford Escort, moved into the lead after stage 11, having hounded Robbie Head's Renault Maxi Megane through the Marine Drive and Castletown stages. "It's going well and the changes we made to the car have worked well," said Evans. "I'm pleased with the performance of the car."

Robbie Head held the lead briefly after stage six: "I chose slick tyres on the final stage which was a bit of a gamble," explained the Glasgow driver. "I slid wide and hit a post which was a shame. The car only suffered cosmetic damage but lost us about 15-20 seconds." The Scot's Renault mechanics fitted a new rear differential during the Douglas service halt in order to improve the car's traction on the slippery island roads.

Alister McRae suffered early brake problems before setting the fastest time on stage 11 in this Volkswagen Golf GTi. "It has not gone so well today," reflected McRae. "The screen was misting up and the hand brake problem came back on the final stage." Finnish team-mate Tapio Laukkanen holds sixth despite suffering from a smoking engine and low oil pressure.

David Mann leads the battle for the Group N Production Cup while Manxman Robert Watson heads the British Junior Championship standings. Ladies Cup champions the Simmonites lead their class. The rally restarts from the Grandstand in Douglas at 09.00am contesting 12 stages, including two visits to the 4.85-mile Brandywell stage. The event finishes in Douglas on Saturday afternoon when a further eight stages will have been completed.

F1:- Tyrrell have agreed a deal with team sponsor European Aviation to build a wind tunnel at the airline's base at Bournemouth Airport. The tunnel will allow Tyrrell to test cars half the size of those in Formula One races and will be in use next year.

TOURING CARS:- Jason Plato has topped the timesheets for testing at Silverstone for next Sunday's final rounds of the RAC Touring Car Championship. It reinforces his hopes of finishing in the runners-up slot. Plato's Laguna completed the lap in one minute 23.258 seconds, more than two- tenths of second ahead of Alain Menu. Plato is already resigned to the fact that his Renault team-mate Menu is confirmed as champion.

EMERSON FITTIPALDI:- Two-time Formula One world champion Emerson Fittipaldi is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing spinal surgery this week. Fittipaldi suffered a broken back when an ultra-light plane he was piloting crashed into a swamp near his orange farm in Brazil on Sunday.

GTs:- Geoff Lees will drive for the Gulf Team Davidoff McLaren BMW in Sunday's eighth round of the GT International Championship at Donington Park. He will team up with Anders Olofsson.

Manx International Rally
LEADERBOARD after 24 of 32 stages:
(interim)                        min sec
 1 Higgins/Mills      Nissan     2:49:43
 2 Rowe/Beech         Renault    2:50:12
 3 Laukkanen/Man'maki Volkswagen 3:01:17
 4 Milner/McMath      Toyota     3:02:09
 5 Reynolds/Harris    Ford       3:02:26
 6 Simpson/Martin     Volkswagen 3:06:22
 7 Higgins/Wood       Subaru     3:06:53
 8 Dale/Bargery       Peugeot    3:06:59
 9 Blomqvist/Melander Skoda      3:07:07
10 Young/Richardson   Ford       3:07:08
Mark Higgins looks set to clinch the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship on the Manx International rally. Three of the five title contenders were eliminated during the second day of the Manx International Rally, the final round of the series. "It has gone very well today although we are not thinking about anything apart from getting the job done," admitted Higgins. "The championship is definitely more important than the rally victory now."

Isle of Man-born Martin Rowe was on impressive form throughout the day as he bids to improve the fourth place finish he scored on last year's event. "The car is performing well and we have had a very good day," said Rowe, who can only take the championship if Higgins finishes lower than ninth. Volkswagen's Tapio Laukkanen is third, having recovered from an early puncture which cost him over three minutes. "We want to score as many manufacturer points as possible," he said.

Jonny Milner heads Group N in his Toyota Celica GT-4 after points leader David Mann retired with engine failure. David Higgins is on course to clinch the title in his Subaru Impreza, prepared by the Barretts Motorsports outfit in Canterbury. "It's great to be able to show what you can do in an old Group N car like this," said Milner. The final leg of the Rally leaves Douglas at 08.40 on Saturday and the rally finishes in Douglas at 15.15.

F1:- Damon Hill has blasted the A-1 Ring, which will give Austria its first Grand Prix in 10 years on September 21. The world champion says the £17m revamp of the old Osterreichring is featureless and is not as fast-flowing as its predecessor. He said: "I tested at the A-1 Ring last year and I didn't like it very much. I never raced at the old circuit but from what I hear the new one is a disappointment. There are not many corners and it is a stop-go circuit."

F3:- Jonny Kane, the British Formula Three Championship leader, crashed during the first qualifying session for Sunday's 12th and 13th rounds at Snetterton. He was unscathed but his Mugen-Honda was damaged and he had to be satisfied with fourth place in both sessions. Brazil's Mario Haberfeld is on pole for the first race and Nicolas Minassian is on pole for the second.

Manx International Rally

RESULT after 32 stages:        hr min sec
 1 Rowe/Beech         Renault    3:40:08
 2 Higgins/Mills      Nissan     3:41:13
 3 Laukkanen/Man'maki Volkswagen 3:53:28
 4 Reynolds/Harris    Ford       3:56:37
 5 Milner/McMath      Toyota     3:58:00
 6 Simpson/Martin     Volkswagen 4:00:14
 7 Young/Richardson   Ford       4:01:22
 8 Blomqvist/Melande  Skoda      4:01:25
 9 Dale/Bargery       Peugeot    4:01:49
10 Higgins/Wood       Subaru     4:02:33
Mark Higgins claimed his first Mobil 1 British Rally Championship title after the Manx International Rally, which was won by fellow Manxman Martin Rowe. Higgins came second after surviving a broken driveshaft on the Nissan before an accident on stage 31 which tore the rear left wheel from its mountings. "Coming over some bumps the car picked up at the back end, spun, and took the rear wheel off on landing," he said. "It was a heart-wrenching moment. We were lucky to get away with it."

Overall victory on the Manx rally gives Martin Rowe his first international win and Renault their second of the season. "It's not a bad day's work," said Rowe. "I have been wanting to pay back all the people who have helped my career and this is the perfect way to do it." Third place for Tapio Laukkanen gives Volkswagen their first Mobil 1 British Rally Championship title. David Higgins held his Subaru together to pick up Group N Championship honours and complete the family triumph.

Provisional Championship points
 1 Higgins     122
 2 Rowe        112
 3 McRae       107
 4 Evans       105
 5 Head         99
 6 Laukkanen    91
 7 Dale         91
 8 Simmonite    87
 9 Young        84
10 Wedgbury     75

1 Volkswagen    71
2 Nissan        69
3 Renault       67
4 Ford          66
5 Skoda         47
6 SEAT          47
7 Peugeot       45
8 Honda         40

F3-: Jonny Kane moved closer to winning the British Formula Three Championship after he finished the pair of races at Snetterton in second and third places. Mario Haberfeld and Nicolas Minassian won the races.

PORSCHES:- Johnny Mowlem earned a 14th consecutive win to clinch the Pirelli Porsche Cup title at Snetterton.

GTs:- Bernd Schneider leads the International GT Championship after he and partner Alexander Wurz won the eighth round at Donington Park.

F1:- Jean Alesi is leaving Benetton to join the Sauber team next season under a two-year contract. He will join Johnny Herbert and will replace Gianni Morbidelli, who is currently without a contract. The Frenchman, who finished second in the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month at Monza, has one career victory. He is third in the drivers' standings behind Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve.

Benetton have won the High Court race for the services of rising star driver Giancarlo Fisichella. Mr Justice Jacob ordered the Jordan team to write to the FIA saying that Fisichella would no longer be driving for them next year. The judge ordered a three-day stay on the order to give Jordan the chance to appeal. Team boss Eddie Jordan will make his decision on whether to continue the court battle on Tuesday morning.

CHAMPION WORLD DRIVER RANKINGS:- Jeff Gordon of NASCAR closed the gap on Alex Zanardi and Michael Schumacher at the top of the rankings. Gordon claimed his tenth win of the season at New Hampshire on Sunday and stays third, 94 points behind CART world champion Alex Zanardi. Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa climbed to seventh place after finishing second in the Formula Nippon race at Mine. GP driver Schumacher, second, will hope to add to his total at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

September 15 standings:          Points
 1 A Zanardi     CART             887
 2 M Schumacher  Formula 1        859
 3 J Gordon      NASCAR           793
 4 G de Ferran   CART             713
 5 T Kanaan      Indy Lights      694
 6 J Villeneuve  Formula 1        681
 7 P de la Rosa  Formula Nippon   647
 8 A Menu        Brit Tour Cars   627
 9 D Jarrett     NASCAR           619
10 H C'sro Neves Indy Lights      615

TOURING CARS:- The final two rounds of this year's championships will take place this weekend with six drivers still in with a chance of a top-three finish. Alain Menu and his Renault team have already secured the championship. Jason Plato (third) is the only driver who can overtake Frank Biela for the coveted second position. Rickard Rydell, James Thompson and John Bintcliffe all have a chance of finishing third overall and will want to put in good performances.

16.09.97 - F1: THE AUSTRIAN GP
Three teams are set to compete for the services of Formula One World Champion Damon Hill. Hill was left as the man in demand when Jordan lost their legal battle to retain Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi switched from Benetton to Sauber. Jordan are now likely to switch their attentions to Hill which would boost the ambitious outfit's profile. Hill has reportedly agreed a £5m deal with the team headed by Alain Prost but nothing official has been announced.

The last Austrian Grand Prix was held at the Osterreichring in 1987 and then safety demands meant that the old, ultra-fast circuit was redesigned. It has now been shortened and renamed the A-1 Ring and Sunday's 71-lap race will be the first Formula One grand prix at the revamped site. Between 1970 and 1987, 18 grands prix were staged at the Osterreichring. The Austrian motorcycle grand prix has been held at the A-1 Ring for the last two years.

The next two weekends are crucial to Jacques Villeneuve if he is to overtake Michael Schumacher, who leads him by 10 points in the drivers' race. He was a strong pre-season favourite after taking Damon Hill to the wire in 1996 and with Ferrari expected to shine in 1998, not 1997. The Luxembourg race is seven days after Austria and Villeneuve said: "The two points I got in Monza were important. I'm looking forward to the last four races. I prefer some of the tracks."

Victory for Michael Schumacher would be a significant step towards a third world championship, with just three races left after Austria. A race win separates Schumacher from second-placed Jacques Villeneuve after the German finished sixth in Italy, one place behind the Canadian. "Monza turned out well because we only lost one point," said Schumacher. "We should be a lot more on the pace in Austria. All I have to be concerned about is keeping close to Villeneuve."

Damon Hill has already voiced his dislike of the revamped A-1 Ring and he fears his Arrows-Yamaha will once again be uncompetitive. The world champion called the track "a disappointment" and a "stop-go circuit" after testing there last year. "Unfortunately for us, I think it will benefit the teams with more horsepower," Hill confirmed. After his second spot in Hungary, Hill has failed to build on that success and did not finish at Monza.

Jordan will be running with new bodywork on their cars for the Austrian and Luxembourg races. "This is the second major set of bodywork we have made this year," said composites manager Tom Anderson. "Unlike the first set, where there were changes to the rear of the car for the higher speed circuits, these changes are predominantly to the side pod area. It helps to increase downforce without giving negative drag effects. It is crucial we keep a competitive edge."

Tyrrell driver Jos Verstappen has a massive European following and will relish the challenge of a new circuit in the hope of impressing his fan club. "It is always a good challenge to go to a new circuit," he admitted. "I will take a scooter around for a few laps just to have a look at the surface and any interesting features. You don't really know what to expect." His Woking-based team have notched just two constructor points this season.

Previous winners (Osterreichring):
1987 N Mansell     GB  Williams
1986 A Prost       Fr  McLaren
1985 A Prost       Fr  McLaren
1984 N Lauda       Aut McLaren
1983 A Prost       Fr  Renault
1982 E de Angelis  It  Lotus
1981 J Laffite     Fr  Ligier
1980 J-P Jsbouille Fr  Renault
1979 A Jones       Aus Williams
1978 R Peterson    Swe Lotus
1977 A Jones       Aus Shadow
The lawyer defending Frank Williams against charges of manslaughter over the death of Ayrton Senna has called for David Coulthard to give testimony. Williams, along with Patrick Head, Adrian Newey and three race officials, are on trial in Imola. The team owner's lawyer called for Coulthard because he believes one of the Scot's statements could be vital. He believes it contradicts one made by Michele Alboreto over the amount of flexing of the steering wheel.

F1:- Formula One team Prost have pulled out of the race to sign Damon Hill after failing to meet his wage demands. A spokesman said: "Following talks with Damon Hill, the two parties have failed to come to a satisfactory agreement and discussions have now come to a close." Their decision limits Hill's options and bargaining power significantly.

Arrows have admitted that wage costs played a major role in their decision to replace Damon Hill with Mika Salo. Team spokeswoman Ann Bradshaw said: "Damon is world champion and, being realistic, we would not pay Damon and Mika the same. That's a fact of life. We had to be realistic about the future and have decided to spend a bit more money on the technical side. Unfortunately Damon won't be with us. There won't be a lack of people wanting him in their team."

Arrows have ended weeks of speculation over Damon Hill's future with them by confirming he will be leaving the team at the end of this season. Finn Mika Salo will take his place and team director Tom Walkinshaw said: "We looked very carefully at the options. After discussing the matter with our technical partners and sponsors we realised that Mika would be the most appropriate driver for us." Hill has been priced out by Prost and now Jordan looks a likely destination.

Formula One team Prost have pulled out of the race to sign Damon Hill after failing to meet his wage demands. A spokesman said: "Following talks with Damon Hill, the two parties have failed to come to a satisfactory agreement and discussions have now come to a close." Their decision limits Hill's options and bargaining power significantly. Jordan are said to be interested but whether they will match the £5m he was allegedly looking for from Prost - or the £4.5 paid by Arrows - is in doubt.

Arrows' decision to dump Damon Hill on the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix may have an affect on their preparations. Things were starting to come good after a terrible start to the season but the team had to act with speculation mounting on where Hill would be going. Hill, now touting for a new drive next season, is professional enough to put this business behind him. His second place in Hungary proved just what the car is capable of and he is desperate for another podium finish.

Olivier Panis, who broke both legs in a crash at the Canadian Grand Prix in June, will make his Formula One comeback next week. The Frenchman replaces Jarno Trulli in the Prost team for the Luxembourg Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on September 28. Panis, winner of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, completed over 450 miles in the Prost-Mugen Honda during four days of testing at Magny Cours last week.

TOURING CARS:- The final two rounds of this year's championships will take place this weekend with six drivers still in with a chance of a top-three finish. Alain Menu and his Renault team have already secured the championship. Jason Plato (third) is the only driver who can overtake Frank Biela for the coveted second position. Rickard Rydell, James Thompson and John Bintcliffe all have a chance of finishing third overall and will want to put in good performances.

Damon Hill is poised to end weeks of speculation by signing a £5m deal to drive for Jordan next season. The Silverstone-based team have called a press conference for Friday morning at which the current world champ will be announced as their new driver. Hill refused to comment on his future but said: "I feel very relaxed." He appeared set to join Jordan last year but in an unexpected move opted to link up with Tom Walkinshaw's ambitious Arrows outfit.

Damon Hill put any worries about who he will be driving for next season behind him to top the unofficial practice times ahead of Sunday's race. The world champion clocked one minute, 12.553 seconds in his Arrows. Rubens Barrichello was second fastest for Stewart, while his team-mate Jan Magnussen was third quickest. Championship rivals Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher were 12th and 15th respectively. David Coulthard was seventh fastest.

Unofficial practice times (Thur): mins secs
 1 D Hill        GB   Arrows   1:12.553
 2 R Barrichello Brz  Stewart  1:12.589
 3 J Magnussen   Den  Stewart  1:12.823
 4 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton 1:12.956
 5 J Trulli      It   Prost    1:13.025
 6 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren  1:13.034
 7 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren  1:13.095
 8 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams 1:13.108
 9 J Herbert     GB   Sauber   1:13.251
10 G Fisichella  It   Jordan   1:13.261
11 G Berger      Aut  Benetton 1:13.368
12 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams 1:13.524
13 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari  1:13.632
14 P Diniz       Brz  Arrows   1:13.762
15 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari  1:13.827
16 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan   1:14.060
17 S Nakano      Jpn  Prost    1:14.176
18 J Verstappen  Hol  Tyrrell  1:14.266
19 U Katayama    Jpn  Minardi  1:14.590
20 G Morbidelli  GB   Sauber   1:14.591
21 M Salo        Fin  Tyrrell  1:14.887
22 T Marques     Brz  Minardi  1:16.502

INDONESIA RALLY:- Juha Kankkunen and his Ford team-mates will wear water-cooled suits to take the heat out of the contest, which starts in Medan on Friday. The drivers will face hot temperatures and 90 per cent humidity so will wear the suits under their racing overalls. Reigning champion Tommi Makinen leads the field by 18 points with only four rounds left. His nearest rivals are Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. "I've always gone well in Indonesia but it's a lottery," admitted McRae.

F.FORD:- Brazil's Vitor Meira set the fastest time in testing at Silverstone ahead of Sunday's final round of the Formula Ford Championship. He clocked one minute, 25.138 seconds.

F.FIESTA CHAMPIONSHIP:- Jo-Ann Breckon missed out on notching the fastest time while testing for Sunday's Ford Credit Fiesta Championship at Silverstone. Her car rolled twice as she lapped the circuit but she was unhurt. Former Ford Fiesta champion Gareth Downing set the fastest time, 1:46.685.

Damon Hill has signed a two-year deal to drive for Jordan from 1998, believed to be worth £5m a season. The world champion snubbed McLaren, Sauber and Prost, and Arrows will replace him with Mika Salo next year. Jordan have yet to win a grand prix and were left in the lurch when losing a High Court battle with Benetton to retain driver Giancarlo Fisichella. Hill will team up with Michael Schumacher's younger brother Ralf at the Silverstone-based outfit.

Damon Hill clinched the deal with Jordan after the recent Italian Grand Prix and believes he can win a second world championship with the team. Hill confirmed: "My aim is to win races and challenge for the championship. Jordan have shown they can challenge for the greatest prize. Together we will be an awesome combination." Despite signing Hill after Monza, the team went ahead with the battle with Benetton over Giancarlo Fisichella because of "commercial opportunities".

Team supremo Eddie Jordan has paid more for the services of Damon Hill than any previous driver. Hill has joined Jordan in a deal thought to be worth £5m. Boss Jordan admitted: "I have paid more for him than any other driver but we have never had a world champion before. "This brings us level with the other teams. This time last year, we were not able to buy his services. Our sponsors have boosted the budget."

Benetton have confirmed that Alexander Wurz will drive for them in the 1998 world championship campaign. The team's test driver made his mark this season when replacing fellow Austrian Gerhard Berger while the veteran recovered from sinus surgery. Wurz competed in three grands prix and crowned his run with third place in the British race at Silverstone. He will partner Giancarlo Fisichella, who was loaned out to Jordan for 1997 by Benetton.

Williams driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen set the pace in offical practice ahead of Sunday's race. Team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, looking to close the gap on championship leader Michael Schumacher, was just behind. Damon Hill, who led the unofficial practice times on Thursday, was 11th fastest after the second session. Schumacher was seventh and David Coulthard was the fastest Briton in sixth spot. Eddie Irvine was 10th and Johnny Herbert 12th.

Official practice times (Fri):mins secs
 1 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams 1:11.527
 2 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams 1:11.638
 3 R Barrichello Brz  Stewart  1:11.798
 4 G Fisichella  It   Jordan   1:11.899
 5 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren  1:11.902
 6 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren  1:11.967
 7 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari  1:12.265
 8 G Berger      Aut  Benetton 1:12.283
 9 P Diniz       Brz  Arrows   1:12.519
10 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari  1:12.548
11 D Hill        GB   Arrows   1:12.614
12 J Herbert     GB   Sauber   1:12.751
13 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton 1:12.820
14 J Trulli      It   Prost    1:12.935
15 G Morbidelli  It   Sauber   1:12.966
16 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan   1:13.041
17 S Nakano      Jpn  Prost    1:13.280
18 J Magnussen   Den  Stewart  1:13.286
19 U Katayama    Jpn  Minardi  1:13.348
20 M Salo        Fin  Tyrrell  1:14.079
21 J Verstappen  Hol  Tyrrell  1:14.188
22 T Marques     Brz  Minardi  1:14.739

TOURING CARS:- Frank Biela in his Audi A4 topped the timesheets at a damp Silverstone in the final official testing for Sunday. With Alain Menu already confirmed as champion, the battle is on for second place in this year's championships. Biela clocked one minute 30.708 seconds, just 0.388 seconds ahead of Briton Jason Plato in a Renault Laguna. Britain's Tim Harvey was a surprise third in a Peugeot 306 with a time of one minute 31.352 seconds.

                                                                               mins secs
 1 F Biela      Audi A4 Quattro 1:30.70
 2 J Plato      Renault Laguna  1:31.09
 3 T Harvey     Peugeot 406     1:31.35
 4 A Reid       Nissan Primera  1:31.43
 5 A Menu       Renault Laguna  1:31.56
 6 D Leslie     Nissan Primera  1:31.81
 7 P Watts      Peugeot 406     1:31.83
 8 J Thompson   Honda Accord    1:32.97
 9 J Bintcliffe Audi A4 Quattro 1:32.00
10 R Rydell     Volvo S40       1:32.01

RALLY INDONESIA:- Colin McRae built up a 35-second lead over rival Tommi Makinen after eight of the 22 stages. The Briton needs a win to re-establish himself in the title race, and he left overall leader Makinen in his wake. Tyre choice was the key as heavy rain played a part. McRae switched to normal mud tyres and not special narrow tyres designed to slice through deep mud. "With the conditions the way they are, running first will not be a disadvantage," admitted McRae.

Standings after day one:     hr min sec
 1 C McRae      GB  Subaru     1:38.44
 2 T Makinen    Fin Mitsubishi 1:39.19
 3 J Kankkunen  Fin Ford       1:39.29
 4 C Sainz      Sp  Ford       1:39.50
 5 K Eriksson   Swe Subaru     1:40.09
 6 R Burns      GB  Mitsubishi 1:40.40
 7 D Auriol     Fr  Toyota     1:40.49
 8 K Singh      Mla Proton     1:45.56
 9 Y Fujimoto   Jpn Toyota     1:47.25
10 Y Kataoka    Jpn Mitsubishi 1:48.22

Williams ace Jacques Villeneuve produced a late burst to secure pole position for Sunday's race. Villeneuve, who trails German Michael Schumacher by 10 points with just four races remaining, took top spot with only a minute of the session remaining. Schumacher ended the day in ninth and Briton Damon Hill grabbed seventh place before he spun off. But Prost's Italian driver Jarno Trulli was the star of the day, coming from nowhere to go third.

Jacques Villeneuve was delighted after clinching pole for Sunday's race. "It's great to get a pole like that because the pressure is very high," Villeneuve said. "You know you really have to go for it and if you make a mistake you know you stay where you are and you know you have to drive on the edge. Doing two laps like that can almost be as tiring as the race," added Villeneuve, who recorded the 11th pole position of his formula one career.

Mika Hakkinen was not too downcast despite just missing out on his first pole position in formula one. The Finn was just pipped by Jacques Villeneuve late in the session but he said: "I am still on the first row of the grid and that is a good position." Championship leader Michael Schumacher starts the race from 9th place and he said: "The worst thing is that I am a long way back of Villeneuve. Now we have to work hard to make the best of the difficult situation."

Damon Hill has refused to become involved in a war of words with Alain Prost following the breakdown of their contract negotiations. Hill, who signed for Jordan after Prost said his pay demands were too high, said: "There are some words being said about me which I'd rather there wasn't. It does not make anyone look big at all. I am much happier when I am just driving and enjoying Formula One," said Hill after qualifying seventh fastest. "It's not something I will talk about."

Positions for Sunday's race:   min secs
 1 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams 1:10.304
 2 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren  1:10.398
 3 J Trulli      It   Prost    1:10.511
 4 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams 1:10.670
 5 R Barrichello Brz  Stewart  1:10.700
 6 J Magnussen   Den  Stewart  1:10.893
 7 D Hill        GB   Arrows   1:11.025
 8 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari  1:11.051
 9 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari  1:11.056
10 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren  1:11.076
11 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan   1:11.186
12 J Herbert     GB   Sauber   1:11.210
13 G Morbidelli  It   Sauber   1:11.261
14 G Fisichella  It   Jordan   1:11.299
15 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton 1:11.382
16 S Nakano      Jpn  Prost    1:11.596
17 P Diniz       Brz  Arrows   1:11.615
18 G Berger      Aut  Benetton 1:11.620
19 U Katayama    Jpn  Minardi  1:12.036
20 J Verstappen  Hol  Tyrrell  1:12.230
21 M Salo        Fin  Tyrrell  1:14.246
* T Marques excluded - car underweight

RALLY INDONESIA:- Overnight leader Colin McRae was forced out of the Rally of Indonesia after crashing into a tree. McRae was fastest on the ninth and 10th stages but damaged his the radiator of his Subaru in the 13th stage impact. He continued using chewing gum to seal a hole in the radiator but his gearbox had been damaged and, after a brief engine fire on stage 14, he retired. Reigning champion Tommi Makinen also dropped out and Carlos Sainz eventually took advantage for a 20-second lead.

Colin McRae blamed himself for the accident that put him out of the Rally of Indonesia while in the lead. "We just hit the mud too fast. It was a caution corner but the first wet one we had come across and I was just pushing too hard," said McRae. "It wasn't bad luck. It was entirely my fault and it is not until afterwards that you kick yourself for pushing that hard," continued the Scot. McRae was leading Tommi Makinen by 58 seconds when the accident occured.

Positions after day two:     hr min sec
 1 C Sainz     Sp   Ford       3:19.54
 2 J Kankkunen Fin  Ford       3:20.14
 3 K Eriksson  Swe  Subaru     3:21.13
 4 R Burns     GB   Mitsubishi 3:21.47
 5 Y Fujimoto  Jpn  Toyota     3:34.55
 6 K Singh     Mla  Proton     3:37.39
 7 L Rovanpera It   Seat       3:39.43
 8 E Weber     Ger  Seat       3:43.48
 = R Pribadi   Ido  Subaru     3:43.48
10 J Kataoka   Jpn  Mitsubishi 3:45.10

F.FORD:- Ricardo Sperafico is in pole position for Sunday's final round of the Formula Ford Championship at Silverstone. The Brazilian set the fastest time of 1 minute 25.291 seconds in his Mygale/Ford in the final qualifying round.

WEXFORD RALLY:- Eamonn Boland (Escort World Rally) is 1 min 14 secs ahead of Tony Davies (Metro 6R4) at the end of the first leg of the Wexford Stages Rally. EARS Motorsport/Motoring News champion John Price (Metro 6R4) is in third ahead of Michael Barrable's Toyota.

TOURING CARS (Silverstone):- Jason Plato boosted his chances of finishing the season as runner-up to his Renault team-mate Alain Menu with two storming final qualifying drives. Plato will start both Sunday's races from the front row after beating Gabriele Tarquini to pole for round 23 by a margin of one-tenth of a second. The Oxfordshire rider went even quicker to claim second on the grid alongside Menu for the 24th and final round. Frank Biela and Plato are locked in battle for championship runner-up spot.

Qualifying times for round 23 mins secs
 1 J Plato      Renault       1:23.397
 2 G Tarquini   Honda Acc     1:23.508
 3 A Menu       Renault       1:23.646
 4 A Reid       Nissan        1:23.689
 5 J Thompson   Honda Acc     1:23.707
 6 D Leslie     Nissan        1:24.218
 7 K Burt       Volvo         1:24.227
 8 P Watts      Peugeot       1:24.315
 9 R Rydell     Volvo         1:24.315
10 P Radisich   Ford Mondeo   1:24.417
11 J Bintcliffe Audi Quattro  1:24.628
12 F Biela      Audi Quattro  1:24.629
15 T Harvey     Peugeot       1:24.859

Qualifying times for round 24 mins secs
 1 A Menu       Renault       1:23.226
 2 J Plato      Renault       1:23.387
 3 J Thompson   Honda Acc     1:23.535
 4 A Reid       Nissan        1:23.722
 5 G Tarquini   Honda Acc     1:23.974
 6 F Biela      Audi Quattro  1:24.063
 7 P Radisich   Ford Mondeo   1:24.088
 8 D Leslie     Nissan        1:24.100
 9 R Rydell     Volvo         1:24.118
10 K Burt       Volvo         1:24.235
13 T Harvey     Peugeot       1:24.435
14 J Bintcliffe Audi Quattro  1:24.474


RESULT after 71 laps:       hr min sec
 1 J Villeneuve  Can Williams 1:27.360
 2 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:27.389
 3 HH Frentzen   Aut Williams 1:27.397
 4 G Fisichella  It  Jordan   1:27.481
 5 R Schumacher  Ger Jordan   1:28.079
 6 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:28.094
 7 D Hill        GB  Arrows   1:28.132
 8 J Herbert     GB  Sauber   1:28.250
 9 G Morbidelli  It  Sauber   1:28.424
10 P Diniz       Brz Arrows   @ 1 lap
11 G Berger      Aut Benetton @ 2 laps
12 U Katayama    Jpn Minardi  @ 2 laps
13 J Verstappen  Hol Tyrrell  @ 4 laps
14 R Barrichello Brz Stewart  @ 7 laps
Others not classified

 1 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari   68 pts
 2 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams  67
 3 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams  31
 4 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren   30
 5 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton  28
 6 G Berger      Aut  Benetton  21
 7 G Fisichella  It   Jordan    20
 8 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari   18
 9 O Panis       Fr   Prost     15
10 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren   14
 = J Herbert     GB   Sauber    14
12 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan    13
13 D Hill        GB   Arrows     7

 1 Williams-Renault      98 points
 2 Ferrari               86
 3 Benetton-Renault      53
 4 McLaren-Mercedes      44
 5 Jordan-Peugeot        33
 6 Prost-Mugen-Honda     20
 7 Sauber-Petronas       15
 8 Arrows-Yamaha          7
 9 Stewart-Ford           6
10 Tyrrell-Ford           2

Jacques Villeneuve suffered a terrible start but recovered to win the Austrian Grand Prix and cut the gap behind title rival Michael Schumacher to one point. Schumacher had moved up from ninth on the grid to snap at Villeneuve's heels in third place before a costly error. The championship leader overtook when the yellow flag was out and he fell back after having a 10-second penalty. Britain's David Coulthard took second place but Damon Hill was edged out of sixth by Schumacher near the end.

Race winner Jacques Villeneuve started from pole position but things went horribly wrong in an eventful start. The Williams driver was slow out of the grid and when Mika Hakkinen retired with engine trouble on lap one, it was left to Jarno Trulli to take over. Prost driver Trulli led for a time but a blown engine coming into the closing stages cost him championship points. Damon Hill looked well placed to pick up a point but he misjudged a late move by Michael Schumacher and fell back.

Jacques Villeneuve had a determined look in his eye after cutting Michael Schumacher's lead to one point in the drivers' standings. Victory in Austria makes the title picture look significantly different and with three races left, everything is still up for grabs. The Canadian said: "It was important for us to get some points today. We planned to stay out as long as possible and it worked really well for us in the end."

Michael Schumacher was annoyed with himself after dropping back from third place due to a 10-second penalty. He overtook Heinz-Harald Frentzen illegally when a yellow flag warning was in operation and he eventually had to settle for a solitary point. "It was a stupid thing with the yellow flag," he admitted. "I started ninth so somehow I should be happy to at least come up to sixth place. It was a shame and it's going to be difficult now."

Damon Hill was clearly embarrassed after letting Michael Schumacher snatch sixth place on the penultimate lap. He said: "I saw Michael behind me obviously but I didn't realise how far back he was and I hit the brakes late. I was driving my nuts off but he slipped through. I thought he was too far back to have a go but he was able to brake later than me." That manoeuvre cost Hill and Arrows their eighth point of the season and inquests are sure to be held.

RALLY INDONESIA:- Former world champion Carlos Sainz set his sights on this year's title after winning the Rally of Indonesia. The Spaniard finished 16 seconds ahead of Ford team-mate Juha Kankkunen. He was given a major boost in the world championship table by the retirements of his main rivals Tommi Makinen and Britain's Colin McRae. Sainz, now eight points behind Makinen, said: "This result is a big help and with three rallies left, I think the title could go down to the last event."

Final positions:            hr min sec
 1 C Sainz     Sp   Ford       4:37.30
 2 J Kankkunen Fin  Ford       4:37.46
 3 K Eriksson  Swe  Subaru     4:38.49
 4 R Burns     GB   Mitsubishi 4:39.24
 5 Y Fujimoto  Jpn  Toyota     4:58.34
 6 K Singh     Mla  Proton     5:03.02
 7 H Rovanpera Fin  Seat       5:06.36
 8 S Konishi   Jpn  Subaru     5:09.21
 9 E Weber     Ger  Seat       5:10.07
10 Y Kataoka   Jpn  Mitsubishi 5:10.45

1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi  52 pts
2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford        44
3 C McRae     GB  Subaru      32
4 K Eriksson  Swe Subaru      28
5 J Kankkunen Fin Ford        22
6 P Liatti    It  Subaru      18
7 R Burns     GB  Mitsubishi  15
8 A Schwarz   Ger Ford        11

1 Subaru       78 pts
2 Mitsubishi   77
3 Ford         69

F.FORD:- Ricardo Sperafico won the final round of the Formula Ford Championship at Silverstone in a Mygale/Ford.

WEXFORD STAGES:- Eamonn Boland (Escort World Rally) won the Wexford Stages Rally, over two minutes ahead of Michael Barrable (Toyota Celica). EARS Motorsport/Motoring News champion John Price (Metro 6R4) was third with Steve Hendy (Escort Cosworth) fourth.

F.RENAULT:- Marc Hynes clinched the Swan National Formula Renault Sport title in the final round at Silverstone.

TOURING CARS:- Alain Menu and Jason Plato won a race each as Renault ended the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship in style at Silverstone on Sunday. Renault's double victory brings their tally of race wins for the year to 14 from 24 races. Menu's victory in round 23 sparked controversy as he lunged past Plato halfway round, forcing him wide. The title had already gone to Menu, but Frank Biela's eighth in the first race saw him take second overall from Plato.

Round 23 result:             mins secs
 1 A Menu       Renault      24:13.272
 2 A Reid       Nissan       @   2.306
 3 J Plato      Renault          5.699
 4 G Tarquini   Honda Accord     9.964
 5 K Burt       Volvo           12.795
 6 D Leslie     Nissan          13.413
 7 J Thompson   Honda Accord    14.724
 8 F Biela      Audi A4         18.998
 9 P Watts      Peugeot         26.256
10 P Radisich   Ford Mondeo     26.570

Round 24 result:             mins secs
 1 J Plato      Renault      28:30.311
 2 A Menu       Renault      @   0.249
 3 G Tarquini   Honda Acc       11.466
 4 J Thompson   Honda Acc       19.235
 5 P Radisich   Ford Mondeo     22.026
 6 D Leslie     Nissan          22.348
 7 R Rydell     Volvo           22.805
 8 K Burt       Volvo           23.007
 9 P Watts      Peugeot         26.518
10 W Hoy        Ford            34.832

1 A Menu     Swi Renault Laguna 281pts
2 F Biela    Ger Audi A4        171
3 J Plato    GB  Renault Laguna 170
4 R Rydell   Swe Volvo S40      137
5 J Thompson GB  Honda Accord   132
6 G Tarquini It  Honda Accord   130

1 Renault              278 pts
2 Audi                 210
3 Honda                209
4 Volvo                191
5 Nissan               155

1 R Gravett  236
2 L Brookes  225
3 C Gallie   225
4 J Wall     168

F1:- Jacques Villeneuve returns to the scene of his maiden grand prix triumph this week believing he can win the title. Villeneuve's win in Austria on Sunday coupled with Michael Schumacher's sixth place after he was penalised left him trailing the German by just one point. The Canadian is full of confidence for Sunday's Luxembourg Grand Prix which is being staged at the Nurburgring. "I feel really good about Nurburgring especially after beating Michael there last time," said Villeneuve.

DRIVERS RANKINGS:- Michael Schumacher moved back to the top of the Champion Spark Plug world driver rankings, despite only finishing sixth in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. He has a 12-point lead over CART series champion Alex Zanardi, who only has one more chance to win points. Every championship is given a rating and is judged against Formula One, which has the greatest global value. Each has a total that can be achieved, which is divided by the number of races. The top 10 drivers score points.

Driver ratings (September 22):  Points
 1 M Schumacher  Formula 1        889
 2 A Zanardi     CART             887
 3 J Gordon      NASCAR           818
 4 J Villeneuve  Formula 1        784
 5 G de Ferran   CART             713
 6 T Kanaan      Indy Lights      694
 7 A Menu        Brit Tour Cars   690
 8 D Jarrett     NASCAR           664
 9 P de la Rosa  Formula Nippon   647
10 H C'sro Neves Indy Lights      615

F3:- Alex Yoong has been offered the chance to test with the Portman Racing team prior to round 15 of the British Formula Three Championship. The Malaysian Formula Renault driver will test the HKS-Mitsubishi-powered Dallara before the team leaves for Spa.

After a disappointing Austrian race, Ferrari want to bounce back in front of Michael Scumacher's home fans. Schumacher saw his lead cut to a point after a stop-go penalty last weekend and his team lost the lead in the constructors' championship to Williams. Team chief Jean Todt said: "We only had a narrow lead of three points after Hungary then increased it. People have said a one-point lead is important psychologically but it could be even more important mathematically."

Benetton are determined to gain some satisfaction from a below-par season by bouncing back to form on Sunday. Austrian Gerhard Berger has already won on German soil this season, at Hockenheim, but Benetton have failed to put pressure on Williams and Ferrari. Benetton technical director Pat Symonds said: "Last year at the Nurburgring we were fourth on the grid with Jean and eighth with Gerhard. That is a qualifying performance we can aim at and hope to beat."

Sunday's race will be the first to be called the Grand Prix of Luxembourg. It will actually be staged at the Nurburgring in Germany but countries are only supposed to stage one race a season, hence the technicality. The Nurburgring held its first grand prix in 1984 by hosting the European round, won by Alain Prost. In 1985 it staged the German Grand Prix but then lost out to Hockenheim. The fast Nurburgring circuit has wide run- off areas and large gravel traps.

Williams have warned Jacques Villeneuve not to write off Michael Schumacher's title chances. The Canadian roared back to form to win in Austria but Schumacher's sixth place keeps him one point ahead. However, Williams technical director Patrick Head admitted: "It is going to be a very big struggle with Michael between now and the end of the season. You saw from Austria that Michael never gives up, however difficult his car is to drive."

Damon Hill's 1998 team-mate Ralf Schumacher is aiming to make an impression in front of his home fans at the German circuit. "I know the Nurburgring really well," revealed the Jordan driver. "I have done many races there and came second in 1994 and 1995 in Formula Three. There may be some problems with understeer because of the surface of the track, which is very slippery. I expect to see both cars up near the front on Sunday."

World champion Damon Hill came within a whisker of scoring another point in Austria last weekend but was thwarted by old adversary Michael Schumacher. Hill has seven points after his sixth- place finish at Silverstone and his second place in Hungary. He has three races left to build on that and give Arrows a respectable constructors' championship total before he departs for Jordan in 1998. However, his lack of horsepower may restrict him on the fast circuit.

The Luxembourg Grand Prix will be the 50th race of Tyrrell driver Mika Salo's Formula One career. Salo, who is replacing Damon Hill at Arrows-Yamaha next season, said: "I'm not counting. I've done 2,500 races in my life and there are at least 300 more to come, so 50 is no big deal. One of my best ever races was in Formula Ford at the old Osterreichring in 1988. I won and Michael Schumacher was second. A repeat would be nice."

The Nurburgring race will be over 67 laps and 189.674 miles. Jacques Villeneuve won at the circuit for Williams last year in the Grand Prix of Europe. Damon Hill holds the time for the fastest race lap - 1 min 21.363 secs. Michael Schumacher holds the lap record at the track - 1 min 21.18 secs. He achieved the feat in 1995 while driving for Benetton.

The German circuit is located in the Eifel mountains and the big concern at this time of the year is the weather as it could be foggy and wet. In 1995 the warm-up on race day for the European Grand Prix at the track was delayed because of fog. Damon Hill claimed pole for Williams at last year's Grand Prix of Europe. Jacques Villeneuve's win at the Nurburgring in 1996 was his maiden Formula One victory.

TOURING CARS:- Alain Menu and the Williams Renault team will defend their Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship titles next year. And Renault UK Ltd have confirmed their partnership with Williams Touring Car Engineering will continue for a further two years until the end of 1999. Menu said he was "delighted" to have been offered the chance to drive for Williams again. Britain's Jason Plato will remain as his teammate next year.

Williams Touring Car Engineering and Renault UK will continue their partnership in the British Touring Car Championship for a further two years. Alain Menu won the drivers' crown this season, Williams the team prize and Renault the manufacturers' title. Menu and Jason Plato will continue driving for the team in 1998.

GTs:- Ralf Kelleners replaces Hans-Joachim Stuck for the ninth round of the GT Championship in Mugello this weekend. Stuck has to be in Spain.

MONOPOSTO:- Amanda Whitaker is bidding for another win in the single-seater Monoposto Championship at Mallory Park on Sunday. The defending champion has already won six of the first nine races.

F1:- Michael Schumacher's helmet that he wore to win the 1996 Italian Grand Prix is expected to be sold for up to £26,000, according to Sotheby's. Many items are on offer and the London auctioneers say Damon Hill's overalls from last year's championship-winning season could fetch up to £4,000.

F1:- Damon Hill believes Jacques Villeneuve will inherit his world title. The current world champion thinks the Williams ace will just have the edge in the last three races but expects the contest to go to the final grand prix. Michael Schumacher has a one-point lead over the Canadian and Hill admitted: "Jacques has got into an attacking mood now after clawing his way back. I would say Jacques is favourite but it's a hair's breadth. There is every chance it will go to the last race."

David Richards will replace Flavio Briatore as managing director of Formula One team Benetton next year. The Englishman will keep control of ProDrive, who run the Subaru World Rally Championship team and the Honda European touring car team.

BRITISH GTs:- The destination of the title has yet to be decided with two rounds remaining. Tim Sugden of Leeds and London's Steve O'Rourke lead the series but just 25 points cover the top five drivers. The Porsche 911-mounted pair compete in the GT2 class and have amassed 95 points, which includes victories at Silverstone and Donington. However, the pair have failed to earn a podium finish since June and Sugden admitted: "It's not been going our way and there doesn't seem much we can do."

Championship leader Michael Schumacher finished four places ahead of rival Jacques Villeneuve in the opening day's practice session. Schumacher was eighth on his home track while Mika Hakkinen was quickest ahead of Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard had set the pace in the opening session but eventually finished sixth quickest. Damon Hill was hit by more mechanical problems and had to settle for tenth after being seventh at one stage.

Friday's leading free practice times:
                              mins secs
 1 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  1:17.998
 2 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  1:18.339
 3 G Berger       Ger Benetton 1:18.434
 4 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan   1:18.713
 5 J Alesi        Fr  Benetton 1:18.794
 6 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  1:18.912
 7 H Frentzen     Ger Williams 1:18.926
 8 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari  1:18.954
 9 G Fisichella   It  Jordan   1:19.034
10 D Hill         GB  Arrows   1:19.091
11 O Panis        Fr  Ligier   1:19.412
12 J Villeneuve   Can Williams 1:19.640
13 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  1:19.708
14 P Diniz        Brz Arrows   1:19.750
15 S Nakano       Jpn Ligier   1:20.073
16 J Herbert      GB  Sauber   1:20.373
17 J Magnussen    Den Stewart  1:20.592
18 J Verstappen   Hol Tyrrell  1:20.947
19 M Salo         Fin Tyrrell  1:21.118
20 G Morbidelli   It  Sauber   1:21.387
21 T Marques      Brz Minardi  1:21.424
22 U Katayama     Jpn Minardi  1:38.344

TRACKROD FOREST STAGES:- Scotsman Brian Lyall needs a top 11 finish in Saturday's Trackrod Forest Stages Rally to capture the title. Lyall's Subaru has already taken the Scottish crown, and has maximum points in four of the five Mintex rounds. Over 170 cars will contest the eight stage event in the North Yorkshire region, with the Peugeot 306 Challenge and 106 Cup also to be decided. Comedienne Jo Brand will feature in the race as she prepares for her Network Q RAC Rally attempt in November.

RALLYING:- Former world rallying champion Carlos Sainz is leaving Ford to join Toyota next season following the team's return from a one-year rules ban.

McLaren ace Mika Hakkinen claimed the first pole position of his career in qualifying for Sunday's race. The Finn celebrates his 29th birthday on race day and he is still looking for his first win in 94 races. Championship contender Jacques Villeneuve was second fastest and rival Michael Schumacher was fifth quickest. Villeneuve's team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen set the early pace but Hakkinen produced a blistering lap to lead the field. Damon Hill was 13th.

Saturday's qualifying times:  mins secs
 1 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  1:16.602
 2 J Villeneuve   Can Williams 1:16.691
 3 H-H Frentzen   Ger Williams 1:16.741
 4 G Fisichella   It  Jordan   1:17.289
 5 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari  1:17.385
 6 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  1:17.387
 7 G Berger       Aut Benetton 1:17.587
 8 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan   1:17.595
 9 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  1:17.614
10 J Alesi        Fr  Benetton 1:17.620
11 O Panis        Fr  Prost    1:17.650
12 J Magnussen    Den Stewart  1:17.220
13 D Hill         GB  Arrows   1:17.795
14 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  1:17.855
15 P Diniz        Brz Arrows   1:18.128
16 J Herbert      GB  Sauber   1:18.303
17 S Nakano       Jpn Prost    1:18.699
18 T Marques      Brz Minardi  1:19.347
19 G Morbidelli   It  Sauber   1:19.490
20 M Salo         Fin Tyrrell  1:19.526
21 J Verstappen   Hol Tyrrell  1:19.531
22 U Katayama     Jpn Minardi  1:20.615

INDYCAR:- Britain's Mark Blundell was sixth fastest in practice in California. Brazilian Mauricio Gugelmin blazed the fastest unofficial lap in CART history when he went round in 240.150 mph in a Reynard Mercedes Benz. "It felt like I was going three times faster than an airplane taking off," said Gugelmin, a veteran of Formual One. Series champion Alex Zanardi was in two crashes at over 210mph but still had the third fastest time behind American Jimmy Vasser.

Top 10 after 8 special stages:mins secs
 1 Lyall/Bennie   Subaru Impreza 68:47
 2 P'kirk/Evans   MG Metro       70:25
 3 Dodd/McAuley   Ford Escort    70:29
 4 Gri'son/Merry  Subaru Impreza 70:44
 5 D'worth/B'fld  Subaru Impreza 71:39
 6 Mills/Sankey   Ford Sierra    71:42
 7 Dalgarno/F'est Ford Escort    71:43
 8 Jones/Lewis    Mitsubishi     71:45
 9 Smith/Kitson   Lancia Delta   72:08
10 Hill/Rabbett   Mitsubishi     72:11

F3:- Frank Montagny claimed pole position for Sunday's British Formula Three Championship round 14 race in Belgium with a best lap of 1:16.765.


Race result (67 laps):        hr min sec
 1 J Villeneuve   Can Williams  1:31.27
 2 J Alesi        Fr  Benetton  @11.770
 3 H-H Frentzen   Ger Williams  @13.480
 4 G Berger       Aut Benetton  @16.416
 5 P Diniz        Brz Arrows    @43.147
 6 O Panis        Fr  Prost     @43.750
 7 J Herbert      GB  Sauber    @44.354
 8 D Hill         GB  Arrows    @44.777
 9 G Morbidelli   It  Sauber    one lap
10 M Salo         Fin Tyrrell   one lap

NOT CLASSIFIED (Did not finish):
11 J Verstappen   Hol Tyrrell  50 laps
12 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  43
13 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  43
14 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  42
15 J Magnussen    Fin Stewart  40
16 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  22
17 S Nakano       Jpn Prost    16
18 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari   2
19 T Marques      Brz Minardi   1
20 U Katayama     Jpn Minardi   1
21 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan    0
22 G Fisichella   It  Jordan    0

 1 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams  77 pts
 2 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari   68
 3 HH Frentzen   Ger  Williams  35
 4 J Alesi       Fr   Benetton  34
 5 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren   30
 6 G Berger      Aut  Benetton  24
 7 G Fisichella  It   Jordan    20
 8 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari   18
 9 O Panis       Fr   Prost     16
10 J Herbert     GB   Sauber    14
 = M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren   14
12 R Schumacher  Ger  Jordan    13
13 D Hill        GB   Arrows     7

 1 Williams-Renault     112 points
 2 Ferrari               86
 3 Benetton-Renault      62
 4 McLaren-Mercedes      44
 5 Jordan-Peugeot        33
 6 Prost-Mugen-Honda     21
 7 Sauber-Petronas       15
 8 Arrows-Yamaha          9
 9 Stewart-Ford           6
10 Tyrrell-Ford           2
Jacques Villeneuve is on course to win his first ever world title after rival Michael Schumacher retired on lap two and then good fortune handed him a win. Villeneuve was lying in third on lap 43 when David Coulthard, in second, and leader Mika Hakkinen were forced to call it a day with engine problems. It left Villeneuve in front and he now leads the title race by nine points. Damon Hill had looked set to earn at least a point but stalled his car on a pitstop and eventually finished eighth.

Michael Schumacher's championship hopes received a severe setback when he retired after two laps following a collision involving brother Ralf. He led the title race by one point from Jacques Villeneuve before the start. However, Ralf forced him off after he touched wheels with Jordan team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella at the first corner. Both Jordans had to retire. Schumacher rejoined the race but eventually had to admit defeat. Ralf was called before the stewards.

Jacques Villeneuve admitted he would not have earned his seventh victory of the season if the McLarens had not retired with engine problems. Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were ahead of third-placed Villeneuve when they were forced out of the race. Villeneuve confirmed: "I could not have caught the McLarens. They were flying. I was hearing strange noises in the car so did not want to risk anything. I banged wheels with Heinz-Harald Frentzen on the first bend."

Williams just need four points in Japan in a fortnight to clinch a record ninth constructors' championship. Jacques Villeneuve's victory and Heinz-Harald Frentzen's third-place finish mean Williams' lead over Ferrari has stretched to 26 points. Team supremo Frank Williams admitted afterwards: "It would be nice to win another one. However, I feel for Ron Dennis, McLaren and Mercedes. Jacques knew what he had to do, though."

Michael Schumacher's chance of winning his third world title in four years was dented by his retirement after two laps but the German remained philosophical. "That is motor sport and this sort of thing happens," he said. He blamed Giancarlo Fisichella for the crash with brother Ralf. The Italian touched wheels with his Jordan team- mate, pushing him into the Ferrari. "It was Fisichella," he said. "But you can't say an accident like that was deliberately provoked by anyone."

World champion Damon Hill was upstaged by team-mate Pedro Diniz after a poor pitstop ended his points hopes. Hill was in sixth spot and looked set for an even higher finish when he went off and stalled his Arrows-Yamaha. The extended stop cost him dear and although he battled back bravely he could only finish eighth. However, Diniz earned Arrows two points with fifth spot. Prost's Olivier Panis, in his comeback race after breaking both legs in Canada, was sixth.

McLaren duo Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard had looked set for a one-two finish until their engines blew up on successive laps. Hakkinen, who had claimed pole position, was heading for his first grand prix win - on his 29th birthday. Coulthard, meanwhile, had made a superb start to move from sixth to second and led the race briefly when Hakkinen went in for a pitstop. "I was very disappointed for myself and Mika," said the Scot.

INDYCAR (Fontana):- Britain's Mark Blundell will start from eighth position after clocking a lap speed of over 236mph. Team-mate Mauricio Gugelmin took pole position at the superspeedway circuit. "I'm happy with eighth," said Blundell. "We haven't gone for a qualifying car so I knew in the back of my mind we wouldn't be in contention for pole. We do have a consistent race car, which has been good throughout the weekend. If we continue that into the race it should be a strong one."

Saturday's practice times:     secs
 1 M Gugelmin   Brz Reynard   30.316
 2 J Vasser     US  Reynard   30.534
 3 B Herta      US  Reynard   30.705
 4 S Pruett     US  Reynard   30.845
 5 M Jourdin Jr Mex Reynard   30.872
 6 G Moore      Can Reynard   30.912
 7 M Andretti   US  Swift     30.913
 8 M Blundell   Eng Reynard   30.942
 9 R Boesel     Brz Reynard   30.971
10 B Rahal      US  Reynard   30.975

GTs:- Britain's Steve Soper and JJ Lehton of Finland regained the lead in the FIA GT Championship by winning the ninth round of the series in Mugello, Italy. The pair lead the championship by seven points with two races left in America.

F3:- Jonny Kane's hopes of clinching the Autosport British Formula Three title came to a crunching halt in the series' annual overseas round at Spa in Belgium. The Ulsterman, forced to change direction by another car, hooked wheels with his Paul Stewart Racing teammate Peter Dumbreck. Kane's car somersaulted into the air and although he escaped with a sprained wrist neither he, nor Dumbreck, were able to take the restart. Brazil's Enrique Bernioldi won the race.

Championship positions after round 14:pts
 1 J Kane      GB  Paul Stewart    176
 2 N Minassian Fr  Pr'ecme Renault 142
 3 P Dumbreck  GB  Paul Stewart    135
 4 M Webber    Aus Alan Docking    115
 5 M Hab'field Brz Martin Donnelly 100
 = E Bernoldi  Brz Pr'ecme Renault 100
 7 B Smith     SA  Fortac M'sport   72
 8 G Smith     GB  DC Cook Racing   56
 9 B Collins   GB  Fortac M'sport   51
10 K McGerrity GB  TOM's Toyota     36

F1:- Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen will stay with Williams for the 1998 season. Villeneuve and Frentzen finished first and third for Williams in the Luxembourg Grand Prix on Sunday. Team boss Frank Williams said: "We are delighted that Jacques and Heinz-Harald continue Williams' championship attack next season." Villeneuve is currently nine points ahead of Michael Schumacher with two races remaining.

INDYCAR (Fontana):- Mark Blundell took advantage of Greg Moore's misfortune to claim victory in the latest CART race. Moore took the lead on lap 232 of the 250-lap race and looked to be battling for victory with Jimmy Vasser when his engine suddenly blew up. Moore went up the banking and Vasser braked, allowing third-placed Blundell to nip in and snatch the lead. The move was perfectly legal and Blundell stayed in front to clinch his team's fourth victory of the season.

 1 M Blundell   Eng Reynard    250 (Average speed 166.575 mph)
 2 J Vasser     US  Reynard    250
 3 A Fernandez  Mex Lola       249
 4 M Gugelmin   Brz Reynard    249
 5 B Rahal      US  Reynard    249
 6 G de Ferran  Brz Reynard    249
 7 S Pruett     US  Reynard    248
 8 R Gordon     US  Reynard    247
 9 C Fittapaldi Brz Swift      247
10 PJ Jones     US  Reynard    247

Driver ratings (September 29):   Points
 1 M Schumacher  Formula 1        899
 2 A Zanardi     CART             887
 3 J Villeneuve  Formula 1        884
 4 J Gordon      NASCAR           818
 5 G de Ferran   CART             751
 6 P de la Rosa  Formula Nippon   749
 7 T Kanaan      Indy Lights      694
 8 A Menu        Brit Tour Cars   655
 9 D Jarrett     NASCAR           650
10 H C'sro Neves Indy Lights      635

30.09.97 - F1
Jordan's Ralf Schumacher insists he has not fallen out with elder brother Michael after the collision that dented the Ferrari driver's title hopes. Ralf's team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella touched wheels with his car and he in turn went into brother Michael's car in Sunday's Luxembourg Grand Prix. Ralf said: "It's doubly bitter for him but he doesn't blame me, why should he? What should I do, brake simply because I'm his brother? I'm not the third Ferrari driver."

Alain Prost has hired Bernard Dudot to be technical director of his team for the 1998 season. Dudot is currently with Renault and is guiding Williams and Benetton. He helped the teams to constructors' titles between 1992 and 1996, Williams winning four and Benetton one. Prost are swapping their Honda engines for Peugeot next year. "Bernard gives us a certain added value," said ex-world champion Prost.