March 1998

TOURING CARS:- The official entry list for the 1998 British Touring Car Championship has been announced. There are 24 drivers on the list, with 18 of them nominated by works teams. The biggest surprise comes from Alfa Romeo, who have ex-Formula One driver Nicola Larini and Fabrizio Giovanardi in their line-up. Renault's Alain Menu will be out to retain his title, while Volvo's Rickard Rydell will be paired with Italian Gianni Morbidelli.

BTCC 1998 LINE-UP - Listed by race number:
 1 A Menu       Swi   Renault Laguna
 3 J Plato      GB    Renault Laguna
 4 R Rydell     Swe   Volvo S40
 5 J Thompson   GB    Honda Accord
 7 J Bintcliffe GB    Audi A4
 8 D Leslie     GB    Nissan Primera
 9 T Harvey     GB    Peugeot 406
11 P Radisich   NZ    Peugeot 406
12 Y Muller     Fr    Audi A4
14 G Morbidelli It    Volvo S40
16 M Lemmer     GB    Vauxhall Vectra
17 R Moen       Nor   Honda Accord
19 J Brunstedt  Swe   Opel Vectra
21 T Rustad     Nor   Renault Laguna
23 A Reid       GB    Nissan Primera
29 R Gravett    GB    Honda Accord
32 W Hoy        GB    Ford Mondeo
33 C Baird      NZ    Ford Mondeo
50 P Kox        NL    Honda Accord
56 N Larini     It    Alfa 156
57 F Giovanardi It    Alfa 156
77 M Neal       GB    Nissan Primera
88 D Warwick    GB    Vauxhall Vectra
98 J Cleland    GB    Vauxhall Vectra

SAFARI RALLY:- Briton Richard Burns claimed his first World Championship race victory after holding onto the Safari Rally lead. Overnight leader Burns, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, kept in front of his chasing rivals for victory in Kenya. He led out of Nairobi on the final leg and held off pressure from the Fords of Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen to win by more than nine minutes. World Rally Championships points leader Carlos Sainz was forced out on stage 13 after a rear tyre caught fire.

Oxford-based Richard Burns was jubilant after becoming only the third Briton ever to win a World Championship rally but he admitted to a tense final leg. He said: "I think this has been the least enjoyable day of rallying ever for me - it was really nerve-wracking. The roads were rougher than the first leg. I wanted to win but there were a lot of variables. I had the car to do it and the most fantastic mechanics. It's wonderful. Last year we led a number of rallies and nearly won."

Final positions after 16 stages:hr min sec
 1 R Burns     GB  Mitsubishi  8:57.34
 2 J Kankkunen Fin Ford        9:07.01
 3 A Vatanen   Fin Ford        9:07.26
 4 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota      9:12.00
 5 H Rovanpera Sp  SEAT       11:03.12
 6 H Baum'ger  Ger Volkswagen 11:18.35
 7 L Climent   Sp  Mitsubishi 11:25.37
 8 K R'snbrger Aut Volkswagen 11:43.21
 9 M Brighetti Ken Subaru     11:53.35
10 K Hirji     Uga Toyota     12:01.03

Driver standings:             Points
1 C Sainz     Sp    Toyota      16
2 J Kankkunen Fin   Ford        16
3 R Burns     GB    Mitsubishi  12
4 T Makinen   Fin   Mitsubishi  10
5 A Vatanen   Fin   Ford         4
= D Auriol    Fr    Toyota       4
= C McRae     GB    Subaru       4

Manufacturer standings:
1 Mitsubishi      22 pts
2 Ford            21
3 Toyota          19
4 Subaru          10

03.03.98 - F1
The 1998 campaign kicks off on Sunday, with Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher again tipped to renew their intense rivalry and take the plaudits. However, rule changes, engine switches and personnel moves could help to conjure up a more open season and give the sport's critics less cause to crow. In recent years the championship has gone down to the wire - culminating in last year's infamous Jerez shunt. Schumacher is unlikely to repeat the tactic on world champion Villeneuve.

World champion Jacques Villeneuve cannot wait to begin his title defence and is relishing the Down Under opener. He said: "Melbourne is a great track and suits me because in my first season I was on pole and last year I initially had a big lead over my rivals. "We have had some good testing sessions so I am pretty confident." Consistency will be the watch-word of Williams team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who added: "I have done my learning year. I have a second chance."

Michael Schumacher's season could be one of reputation rebuilding as well as re-establishing Ferrari as the top team in the world. After his Jerez antics last season some critics believe he is lucky to have escaped a ban for the start of 1998. The German admitted: "Jerez will always be my black spot. I do not think I need to explain any more than I have done about what happened. I almost won the title last season and this year I want the title."

Damon Hill is out to end the domination by the 'big four' and gain entry for Jordan to the exclusive club. Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton have taken the headlines in recent years but Hill insisted: "Getting fourth as a team is a possibility." Hill makes his Jordan debut on Sunday and said: " I must put pressure on the team and the engine people in order to give me more of everything. We would never suggest we can win the championship but we can win races."

David Coulthard is primed for success as he appears to have his best chance yet of taking the drivers' crown. The Scot triumphed in last year's Melbourne opener and in Italy. But for team orders, he could have rounded off the season with victory at Jerez. McLaren's testing times suggest further glory is ahead and Coulthard revealed: "I have never felt in such good shape before the start of the season. I am comfortable with my ability and feel capable of beating anyone."

Stewart-Ford have much to prove in their second season. The Melbourne race takes place nearly 25 years to the day that team supremo Jackie Stewart won the South Africa Grand Prix in a Tyrrell. It would be a shock if Brazilian star Rubens Barrichello repeated that feat Down Under but he said: "I believe I am now consistently quick." Team-mate Jan Magnussen added: "I am better prepared this season and the new regulations have levelled things out."

Pedro Diniz and Mika Salo will be aiming to put Arrows in the spotlight, following the departure of Damon Hill. The A19 car's have been fitted with the team's own Arrows engine and Diniz was enthusiastic after pre-season testing. "The car drove exceptionally well in the rain, especially in high speed corners," revealed the Brazilian. "We have a lot of downforce in the car, which helps driving in the wet. The car has potential and I am confident that it will soon be competitive."

Tyrrell are optimistic ahead of their final season before they become British American Racing. The Woking-based outfit have signed up Ricardo Rosset, who had one outing with the ill-fated Lola team last season. He is joined by Toranosuke Takagi and managing director Harvey Postlethwaite said: "The team is quietly confident following the Barcelona tests. "That said, we will not really know how we stack up against the opposition until the first qualifying session."

Formula One chiefs have introduced radical changes for the new campaign. Dry-weather tyres, which were smooth, must now incorporate grooves around the circumference. Front tyres will have three grooves, back tyres four. Grooves will lead to less rubber on the road, meaning drivers will go slower at corners, which may create closer races. The width of the cars have been reduced to that of a Formula Three vehicle, which is likely to make them less stable and again reduce the speed.

WILLIAMS-MECACHROME: Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen renew their partnership but the Renault engines are bought from French company Mecachrome. Frentzen was disappointing in 1997 but Williams' double honours scoop gave him breathing space. Has much to prove.

FERRARI: Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine will be out to give the Italians their first driver title since 1979. The German may have to win back some respect after his Jerez antics. Irvine is the perfect foil for his ambitions.

BENETTON-MECACHROME: Alexander Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella replace Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger. The duo are quick, if inexperienced but the Italian was second in Spa in 1997 and the German third at Silverstone.

McLAREN-MERCEDES: The whisper is that this could be the season the team emulates the glory days of the 80s. David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen team up once more but the acquisition of designer Adrian Newey from Williams is a massive coup.

JORDAN-MUGEN-HONDA: It is hoped Damon Hill can give the popular team their first ever win - and if it happens at Silverstone expect a week-long party. However, there is no number one driver and Ralf Schumacher will not want to stay in the shadow of the ex-champion.

PROST-PEUGEOT: The switch to the powerful Peugeot engines should be an advantage for Alain Prost's outfit. Olivier Panis was driving well before breaking his legs in Canada last year and Jarno Trulli is tipped for the top.

SAUBER-PETRONAS: Johnny Herbert is joined by fiery Frenchman Jean Alesi, whose time at Benetton was beset by problems ` some of his own making. The ambition and budget is there and if last year's early form is reproduced podium places are on the cards.

ARROWS: Brian Hart's new V10 engine has been designed specifically for the team but may still not be quite good enough to compete with the 'big boys'. Mika Salo partners Pedro Diniz and fills the gap left by Damon Hill.

STEWART-FORD: Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen were reportedly pleased with pre-season testing ahead of the fledgling team's second campaign. The Bridgestone tyres are set to be an asset but there is still a question mark of engine reliability.

TYRRELL-FORD: In the last year before the team becomes British American Racing, a switch from a V8 to a V10 engine led to some stunning test times. The Toranosuke Takagi-Ricardo Rosset driver pairing lacks experience.

MINARDI-FORD: Pay-drivers Shinji Nakano and Esteban Tuero are unlikely to shake off the team's tag of perennial back-markers or non-finishers. Even with ex-Ferrari designer Gustav Brunner back in their camp, the omens do not look too promising.

The battle to be top Briton could be as fiercely-contested as the overall drivers' championship.

Damon Hill: Age 37. Finished 12th in 1997. Starts: 80. Wins: 21. Poles: 20.

David Coulthard: Age 27. Was third last year. Starts: 58. Wins: 3. Poles: 5.

Eddie Irvine: Age 32. Was seventh last season and finished second in Argentina in 1997. Starts: 65. Wins: 0. Poles: 0.

Johnny Herbert: Age 33. Finished 10th in '97. Starts: 113. Wins: 2. Poles: 0.

McLaren, Benetton, Prost, Arrows, Minardi and Stewart are all using Bridgestone tyres this season. Australia produced two world champions - Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones. Keke Rosberg was the first winner of the Australian Grand Prix in 1985 and the race was also marked by the final from Niki Lauda. Sunday's race will be a 58-lap event, comprising 3.274 miles or 5.269km. The Albert Park opener will begin at around 3am GMT.

1997 result:
1 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren
2 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari
3 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren
4 G Berger      Aut Benetton
5 O Panis       Fr  Prost
6 N Larini      It  Sauber
Pole: J Villeneuve Can Williams
Fastest lap: H-H Frentzen Ger Williams 1:30.585

Previous F1 drivers' champions:
1997 J Villeneuve   Williams-Renault
1996 D Hill         Williams-Renault
1995 M Schumacher   Benetton-Renault
1994 M Schumacher   Benetton-Renault
1993 A Prost        Williams-Renault
1992 N Mansell      Williams-Renault
1991 A Senna        McLaren-Honda
1990 A Senna        McLaren-Honda
1989 A Prost        McLaren-Honda
1988 A Senna        McLaren-Honda
1987 N Piquet       Williams-Honda
1986 A Prost        McLaren-TAG-Porsche
1985 A Prost        McLaren-TAG-Porsche
1984 N Lauda        McLaren-TAG-Porsche
1983 N Piquet       Brabham-BMW

Previous F1 constructors' champions:
1997 Williams-Renault
1996 Williams-Renault
1995 Benetton-Renault
1994 Williams-Renault
1993 Williams-Renault
1992 Williams-Renault
1991 McLaren-Honda
1990 McLaren-Honda
1989 McLaren-Honda
1988 McLaren-Honda
1987 Williams-Honda
1986 Williams-Honda
1985 McLaren-TAG-Porsche
1984 McLaren-TAG-Porsche
1983 Ferrari

March 8  Australia GP, Albert Park
March 29 Brazilian GP, Interlagos
April 12 Argentine GP, Buenos Aires
April 26 San Marino GP, Imola
May 10   Spanish GP, Barcelona
May 24   Monaco GP, Monte Carlo
June 7   Canadian GP, Montreal
July 12  British GP, Silverstone
July 26  Austrian GP, Spielberg
August 2 German GP, Hockenheim
Aug 16   Hungarian GP, Budapest
Aug 30   Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps
Sept 13  Italian GP, Monza
Sept 27  Luxembourg GP, Nurburgring
Oct 11 * Portuguese GP, Estoril
Nov 1    Japanese GP, Suzuka

* Will be replaced by China, S Africa or initially-axed France
Security at Melbourne's Albert Park GP circuit has been tightened for Sunday's opening race after protesters stormed safety cordons and cut through fencing. Around 30 people charged entrance gates in protest over the felling of 1,000 trees to make way for the track. In the melee one protester confronted F1 drivers and pit crews on the main straight before being ejected by security guards. Another chained herself to the wall of the Ferrari garage in the pits.

Michael Schumacher is a target for the new British American Racing team, according to BBC Radio Five Live. Team manager Craig Pollock says he has the funds in place to sign both Schumacher and current world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Schumacher's wages alone are reputed to be around 20m a year but Pollock says he is confident the team can afford it. British American Racing will replace Tyrrell next season.

Prost Grand Prix team chiefs have said they have not yet passed all the mandatory crash tests on their cars before Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. Team spokesperson Christine Marquilie said that a lateral impact test needed to be carried out. It is expected to be completed in Britain on Thursday. Marquilie said: "Team chief Alain Prost is sure that the car is excellent and that there will be no problems with the lateral impact test."

F.PALMER AUDI:- Daniel Dror Jr has signed up for the 1998 Formula Palmer Audi campaign - the first American to join the discipline. The 22-year-old from Houston, who was the 1996 USAC Russell Triple Crown champion, has never competed in Europe. FPA supremo Jonathan Palmer said: "There are so few Americans who come to Europe and I hope we can raise more awareness of Palmer Audi in America. "With the FPA races being televised in America and the media aware of the series, Daniel will not be forgotten."

F1:- Formula One racing chiefs are considering an amazing U-turn over tobacco advertising and sponsorship. Governing body the FIA may enforce a ban before the European Directive comes into force in 2007 - if it is proved advertising makes people smoke. FIA president Max Mosley said: "It is thought by several governments that they can make such evidence available. We could bring in worldwide ban on tobacco advertising on expiry of the Concorde Agreement in 2002."

If the FIA decide to introduce a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship it would not just concern European Union countries but all nations. FIA president Max Mosley confirmed: "Such a ban would apply to all Formula One grands prix, including those held outside the European Union." Mosley says he expects other companies to take over from tobacco firms but that less money would be involved. Marlboro, for example, are believed to pump around 35m into Ferrari.

Stewart and Prost have still not been given the go-ahead to compete in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. The teams are the only two yet to pass the pre-event scrutineering checks. Jackie Stewart is confident his team will be on the grid and manager Dave Stubbs said: "The cars were just not ready. It is not a big problem." Prost are waiting to see if they have passed a crash test but if they fail they could still compete if the other teams and race stewards agree.

The French Grand Prix is set to be included on the 1998 Formula One calendar after all. It was axed after problems over TV coverage in France but it may now go ahead on June 28 at Magny-Cours. FIA president Max Mosley said: "There is a good chance it will take place. The necessary clarification of the law seems to be underway in France." Meanwhile, South Africa or China may still replace the cancelled Portuguese Grand Prix on October 11.

Ferrari star Eddie Irvine insists he will not change his much-criticised driving style. He is hunting his first win and was blamed for the first-corner pile-up in last season's Melbourne opener. However, Irvine believes he was not to blame for the 1997 incident and ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix said: "I hope I make the same start. "This time I want to get through the first corner. This will be my best chance of winning here."

McLaren have built the world's first two-seater Formula One car, with a view to giving people a chance to experience the speed of a top racing car. They will auction the opportunity to be the first passenger in the car, with proceeds going to charity.

BTRDA RALLY SERIES:- Alistair Tough is aiming to clinch his second successive Malcolm Wilson Rally win in Cumbria and the Lake District this weekend. His closest rival on Saturday could be David Mann, who triumphed in the Wyedean Forest Rally in his Proton. Bob Green and Steve Petch, who are also previous winners of the event, will be driving Escort Cosworths. The Gold Star category - for Formula Two cars up to two-litres - will be dominated by Vauxhall Astras.

F.PALMER AUDI:- Andrew Booth is returning to Britain this season to take part in the Formula Palmer Audi Championship. He was third in the First Division of the Slick 50 Formula Ford series in 1996 ` behind fellow FPA drivers Richard Tarling and Carl Breeze. The New Zealander was last seen racing in Britain at the Formula Ford world finals in October. "No other formula could offer me the same opportunities to develop both on and off the track," said Booth.

TOURING CARS:- Audi Sport UK have chosen Mobil 1 as a team partner alongside tyre manufacturer Michelin for the 1998 British Touring Car Championship.

RALLYING:- SEAT Cupra Sport are importing one of their Safari Rally, Formula Two-winning kit cars into the UK in a bid for British Rally Championship glory. Having won the opening two rounds of the British series, SEAT are rebuilding the Ibiza Evo 2 kit car for the event. Harri Rovenpera was fifth in SEAT's first Safari Rally outing last week.

RENAULT SPIDER CUP:- Nick Hart and Jamie Hunter believe higher speeds and close races will feature strongly in the new Renault Insurance Services Spider Cup campaign. The duo are expected to excel in the event and they say the new touring car- style sequential gearboxes are worth at least a second a lap.

Michael Schumacher set the pace after the two free practice sessions at the Albert Park circuit. He set the fastest time with one minute, 33.826 seconds, while McLaren's Mika Hakkinen was second quickest. World champion Jacques Villeneuve, who is tipped to once again be battling it out for the title with Schumacher, was third fastest. David Coulthard was fifth and Damon Hill, in his first season with Jordan, was 13th fastest.

Former world champion Michael Schumacher put last season's traumas behind him in practice but still declared: "That is a relief". The Ferrari star posted the fastest time and said: "It is very satisfying to be driving again. Now I just cannot wait to get racing. "It was a relief. I had a long time out - we could not drive in November and I only did a few laps in December." Rain dominated the practice sessions, leaving many drivers frustrated.

Damon Hill finished behind team-mate Ralf Schumacher after the practice run- outs but the rain seemed to play a part in many of the drivers' times. Hill was 13th fastest for Jordan, while Schumacher was sixth. However, the 1996 world champion said: "I am reasonably encouraged by what I saw, although it is difficult to draw conclusions, especially in the rain. I had several spins but it was good practice because I am used to a foot clutch but now have a hand clutch."

Friday's leading free practice times:
                              mins secs
 1 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari  1:33.826
 2 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  1:34.432
 3 J Villeneuve   Can Williams 1:35.023
 4 A Wurz         Aut Benetton 1:35.270
 5 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  1:35.409
 6 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan   1:35.708
 7 J Herbert      GB  Sauber   1:35.876
 8 J Alesi        Fr  Sauber   1:36.095
 9 J Trulli       It  Prost    1:36.231
10 H-H Frentzen   Ger Williams 1:36.741
11 M Salo         Fin Arrows   1:36.897
12 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  1:37.023
13 D Hill         GB  Jordan   1:37.102
14 O Panis        Fr  Prost    1:37.102
15 R Rosset       Brz Tyrrell  1:37.144
16 J Magnussen    Den Stewart  1:37.605
17 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  1:37.891
18 P Diniz        Brz Arrows   1:37.928
19 T Takagi       Jpn Tyrrell  1:38.817
20 G Fisichella   It  Benetton 1:38.860
21 S Nakano       Jpn Minardi  1:39.044
22 E Tuero        Arg Minardi  2:16.609

McLaren boss Ron Dennis has accused a leading Formula One team of spying and says he plans to report the matter to the sport's governing body. Dennis said the brother-in-law of a rival team's chief aerodynamicist had been caught taking photographs inside the McLaren team's garage in Melbourne. "In former years there's been a code of conduct that most teams have followed. "But there are some teams now, and specifically one, which doesn't seem to have any code of conduct," said Dennis.

Mika Hakkinen took pole position and teammate David Coulthard joined him on the front row as McLaren enjoyed their first 1-2 grid for seven years. This season promises so much for McLaren and their drivers look well placed to deliver after dominating a fast final practice in Melbourne. They forced title rivals Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve into the shade on second row. Damon Hill failed to make an impact in his Jordan but just made the top 10.

Damon Hill tangled with old adversary Michael Schumacher again in Melbourne when he slowed him down in practice. As Schumacher was in pursuit of the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, his bid for a top two finish was blocked by Hill in his Jordan. Etiquette suggests Hill should have moved his slower car out of the way. Hill, who was fined 1,500 for speeding in the pit lane, said: "Schumacher did not get past until I reached the apex of the corner. I cannot vanish."

Mika Hakkinen was thrilled after securing only the second pole position of his Formula One career at Melbourne. He said: "Winning my first grand prix last year gave me an awful amount of confidence. It helped me relax and just concentrate on this season. It is a great way to start the season and to see the faces of the McLaren mechanics at the end was really good." McLaren teammate David Coulthard said: "I was convinced I could beat him but I am reasonably happy with second."

Johnny Herbert caught the eye in final qualifying when he managed a creditable fifth place for Sauber. He easily outperformed veteran French team-mate Jean Alesi with Eddie Irvine eighth in the second errari. Herbert said: "It was a good lap. We've been changing things all day and each time we've changed it got better." Michael Schumacher was not grumbling about being third fastest. He said: "That's where I thought I should be. The car is not up to the level yet."

Grid positions after final qualifying:
                              mins secs
 1 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  1:30.010
 2 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  1:30.053
 3 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari  1:30.767
 4 J Villeneuve   Can Williams 1:30.919
 5 J Herbert      GB  Sauber   1:31.384
 6 H-H Frentzen   Ger Williams 1:31.397
 7 G Fisichella   It  Benetton 1:31.733
 8 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  1:31.767
 9 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan   1:32.392
10 D Hill         GB  Jordan   1:32.399
11 A Wurz         Aut Benetton 1:32.726
12 J Alesi        Fr  Sauber   1:33.240
13 T Takagi       Jpn Tyrrell  1:33.291
14 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  1:33.383
15 J Trulli       It  Prost    1:33.739
16 M Salo         Fin Arrows   1:33.927
17 E Tuero        Arg Minardi  1:34.646
18 J Magnussen    Den Stewart  1:34.906
19 R Rosset       Brz Tyrrell  1:35.119
20 P Diniz        Brz Arrows   1:35.140
21 O Panis *      Fr  Prost    1:35.215
22 S Nakano       Jpn Minardi  1:35.301
* includes rules breach penalty

Final positions:              mins secs
 1 Green/C'pstick Escort C'swrth 54:03
 2 Bengry/F'brook Mitsubishi     54:39
 3 Petch/Croft    Escort C'swrth 54:39
 4 Stuart/Egg'ne  Vauxhall Astra 55:20
 5 B'nster/O'dfld Mitsubishi     55:29
 6 Burton/Fallows Ford Escort    55:38
 7 Lawn/Harris    Mitsubishi     55:53
 8 Bell/Spooner   Mitsubishi     56:04
 9 Champion/Th'ly Mitsubishi     56:22
10 Crok/Crook     Sierra C'swrth 56:29

F.PALMER AUDI:- Denmark's Mads Gisselbaek is the latest overseas name to sign up to the Formula Palmer Audi Championship. The 24-year-old has been resident in Britain for a few years, with Scotland being his adopted home. At the 1994 Formula Ford Festival, he qualified in third for the final and was second in the final itself. He moved to Formula Renault Sport and admitted: "I only recently learned of Formula Palmer Audi and was immediately inspired. The car looked fantastic."

08.03.98 - F1: THE AUSTRALIAN GP
David Coulthard missed out on a repeat of last year's triumph Down Under when handing victory to McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen. The Scot looked set to win after a pit- stop blunder by the Finn but with two laps left he slowed down on team orders to let Hakkinen through. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was third, Eddie Irvine was fourth, while world champion Jacques Villeneuve was fifth. Johnny Herbert was in the points in sixth and Damon Hill was eighth.

McLaren have revealed that it was a mix-up in radio communication that led to Mika Hakkinen's 'phantom' pit-stop. Hakkinen returned to the pits while leading the race only to find his team were not outside the garage waiting for him, so he sped straight through. Meanwhile, David Coulthard claimed the lead and looked on course for glory. The flying Finn had made use of pole position to storm clear but the botched stop looked like ending his hopes until Coulthard's unselfish act.

McLaren supremo Ron Dennis said it was David Coulthard's choice to give Mika Hakkinen his second grand prix win. Hakkinen won the Jerez finale last season, after Jacques Villeneuve and then Coulthard let him through, and the Scot repeated that decision this year. Dennis revealed: "The team decided that the first racer through the first bend on lap one would be allowed to win if a McLaren was in front. "Coulthard did pull over. We made an agreement and David honoured it."

David Coulthard admitted that he believed he could stick to the driver agreement and still win the race. "I was pretty confident with the agreement as I thought I could get to the corner first but, unfortunately, Mika got a good start," said the Scot. "Then when the team told me what had happened with Mika's pit-stop I felt what I did kept the agreement." Hakkinen said: "What David did was remarkable and I thank him. I do not think many drivers would have done it."

Michael Schumacher's race lasted just 11 minutes as he retired on lap six of the 1998 opener. The Ferrari driver was furious when he was hit by engine problems and he stomped back to the pits. His younger brother Ralf's race had finished earlier when his Jordan was involved in a collision with Stewart's Jan Magnussen. Benetton's Giancarlo Fisichella looked set for a points finish before he too went out with car problems.

Michael Schumacher's hopes of putting last season's antics behind him with a winning display were dashed. He was lying third on lap six when his Ferrari failed on him and he ripped out the steering wheel and threw it to the ground before storming off. "Obviously we are not very happy about what happened after all our winter testing and doing so much effort," fumed the German. "Everything was fine. It was easy and then this happened."

After McLaren claimed an Australian one-two, former world champion Damon Hill admitted: "I should have predicted something like that." The Jordan star finished eighth and was full of praise for McLaren designer Adrian Newey, who worked for Williams during Hill's time with the team. "I think Adrian has just proved he is the best car designer ever to walk the planet," said Hill. "There is not much for us to celebrate as we did not get any points."

Stewart duo Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen failed to finish, leaving Jackie Stewart bitterly disappointed at the start of the team's second season. Chairman Stewart said: "We were not as well prepared as we should have been for this race, prior to Melbourne. "Everyone had worked so hard over the entire weekend to deliver two cars that should have performed quite well." Barrichello added: "It is pretty sad, not just for me but for the mechanics, who were heroes this weekend."

Only nine drivers finished the first grand prix of the season but all four Britons are included in that statistic. David Coulthard was second and Eddie Irvine upstaged his team-mate, former world champion Michael Schumacher, by taking fourth spot. Meanwhile, Sauber's Johnny Herbert produced a superb drive to finish two places behind the Ulsterman. Damon Hill completed the British foursome by claiming eighth spot on his debut drive for Jordan.

Race result after 58 laps: hr min secs
1 M Hakkinen   Fin McLaren  1:31.45
2 D Coulthard  GB  McLaren  1:31.46
3 H-H Frentzen Ger Williams 1:31.54 *
4 E Irvine     GB  Ferrari  1:31.55 *
5 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:32.30 *
6 J Herbert    GB  Sauber   1:32.30 *
7 A Wurz       Aut Benetton 1:32.33 *
8 D Hill       GB  Jordan   1:32.34 *
9 O Panis      Fr  Prost    1:32.52 *
Fastest lap: Hakkinen 1 min, 31.649 sec
* - times after 57 laps

Did not finish:
10 G Fisichella   It  Benetton  43 laps completed
11 J Alesi        Fr  Sauber    41 laps
12 J Trulli       It  Prost     26 laps
13 R Rosset       Brz Tyrrell   25 laps
14 M Salo         Fin Arrows    23 laps
15 E Tuero        Arg Minardi   22 laps
16 S Nakano       Jpn Minardi    8 laps
17 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari    5 laps
18 P Diniz        Brz Arrows     2 laps
19 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan     1 lap
20 J Magnussen    Den Stewart    1 lap
21 T Takagi       Jpn Tyrrell    1 lap
22 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart    0 laps

1 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren   10 pts
2 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren    6
3 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams   4
4 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari    3
5 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams   2
6 J Herbert     GB   Sauber     1

1 McLaren-Mercedes      16 pts
2 Williams-Mecachrome    6
3 Ferrari                3
4 Sauber-Petronas        1

F1:- McLaren will not be punished for the way Mika Hakkinen was allowed to win Sunday's Australian Grand Prix despite a formal protest by race officials. Leader David Coulthard allowed the Finn to pass him with two laps remaining after making a prior team arrangement. Melbourne race chairman Ron Walker said: "It's not the right of team owners to decide who's going to win." Organisers asked the sport's governing body, the FIA, to investigate but it has ruled no action will be taken.

The FIA revealed that rules may change in the wake of McLaren's actions at the finish of the Australian Grand Prix. They said in a statement: "Team orders specifying the finishing order of drivers within a team have existed since the beginnning of the century. "It would therefore not be right to criticise or sanction McLaren Mercedes for what it did on Sunday. "The World Motor Council will be invited to decide at a meeting on March 18 whether this practice should cease."

David Coulthard has hit back at critics over the way he let McLaren teammate Mika Hakkinen win in Melbourne. Coulthard ushered Hakkinen through from second place after arranging beforehand that whoever led after the first bend would be allowed to win. "We are not here to think about giving entertainment," he said. "We are here to score points for the team. I don't see what is so difficult about it. "If you make an agreement with someone then you stick by it."

David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen will deploy the same tactics they used to settle the Australian Grand Prix at Brazil on March 29. McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who revealed Coulthard will still receive his win bonus, was told on Monday that the FIA will not take action against his team. Dennis said: "The drivers drove for the team in Melbourne. "It is an agreement for the first two races ` after Brazil they can go hammer and tongs at each other."

David Coulthard said he is expecting Mika Hakkinen to have to return the favour he showed him by letting him win the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Scot said: "I am expecting to be repaid. I could have won the opening race, but hopefully we will put this to bed after the next race. "By then we should be on an even keel so there won't be a disadvantage. I am not giving away four points. "I am putting my trust in the team, in Mika and all the other people around."

CHAMP CARS:- Mark Blundell begins his third attempt on the Indycar series when the newly named CART championships get underway in Miami on Sunday. The former Indycars will now be known as Champ Cars and Blundell is hoping to improve on his sixth place overall in 1997, which featured three victories. Blundell has signed a two-year contract with PacWest Racing, who will use last year's car instead of a new design. "I'm sure we'll use the new one when the time is right," Blundell said.

10.03.98 - RALLYING
Former world champion Ari Vatanen will partner Juha Kankkunen for Ford again in the Rally of Portugal. Kankkunen's usual partner, Bruno Thiry, is still recovering after breaking five ribs before the Safari Rally in Kenya.

F1:- It has emerged that David Coulthard was allegedly unhappy about having to hand victory to team-mate Mika Hakkinen in the final grand prix of last season. The Scot looked set to win in Jerez but was instructed by McLaren to let the Finn take the chequered flag. Coulthard followed suit in Melbourne on Sunday but told Total Sport before the Australian race: "I was not happy about the last race in Jerez. I think you should win the race on the track and not manufacture a situation."

TOURING CARS:- James Thompson stole the show in the first official test at Oulton Park ahead of the start of the 1998 British Touring Car Championship. The 23-year-old steered his Honda Accord round the track to clock a time of one minute, 0.211 seconds. His time was just 0.008 of a second quicker than that set by the 1997 champion Alain Menu. John Cleland gave Vauxhall a boost with the third best time, while flu-victim Jason Plato was seventh fastest.

RALLYING:- Vauxhall's new Astra kit car will make its Mobil 1 RAC British Rally Championship debut at the Vauxhall Rally of Wales on March 20-21.

F.PALMER AUDI:- The BBC's Top Gear Motorsport programme is set to feature the Formula Palmer Audi series and presenter Tiff Needell may compete in an early round.

F1:- Ferrari are ready to pay Michael Schumacher around 52m to see out his Grand Prix career with the Italian team, according to reports. The Bild newspaper says Fiat, who own Ferrari, want to stop Schumacher joining McLaren-Mercedes next season. Schumacher has a contract which runs until the end of the 1999 season. The paper says Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli has approved a new deal linking Schu to to Ferrari until 2002 followed by a lifetime job as a roving ambassador.

TOURING CARS:- Alain Menu edged out James Thompson in the second official test session at Oulton Park ahead of the 1998 British Touring Car Championship campaign. The 1997 champion was second-fastest to Thompson in Wednesday's first session but regained top billing with a time of 59.344 seconds. Honda's Thompson clocked 59.404sec and David Leslie was third quickest. Next week the tests move to Donington, where the 'one-shot showdown' procedure will be tried for the first time.

Leading times:                 min secs
 1 A Menu       Swi Renault Lag 0:59.34
 2 J Thompson   GB  Honda Acc   0:59.40
 3 D Leslie     GB  Nissan Prim 0:59.40
 4 T Harvey     GB  Peugeot 406 0:59.57
 5 G Morbidelli It  Volvo S40   0:59.67
 6 P Kox        NL  Honda Acc   0:59.71
 7 J Bintcliffe GB  Audi A4     0:59.76
 8 J Plato      GB  Renault Lag 0:59.89
 9 Y Muller     Fr  Audi A4     0:59.92
10 P Radisich   NZ  Peugeot 406 1:00.09

CHAMP CARS:- Mark Blundell's CART series form last season suggests he could emulate Nigel Mansell and taste glory in America. He earned three wins last year and is being backed for success with the PacWest team in the renamed CART Fedex Championship, which starts on Sunday. Mansell won the then IndyCar title in 1993 and Blundell confirmed: "A lot of people are tipping us for the title but it is far too early to think about it." Scot Dario Franchitti is also looking for wins after joining Team Kool Green.

14.03.98 - CHAMP CARS
Mark Blundell managed the 11th fastest time of the first day's practice for Sunday's CART season opener in Miami. Christian Fittipaldi was quickest off the blocks in his Ford Cosworth but Briton Blundell is convinced he can improve in time for final qualifying. He said: "In the morning we had a very good session. The guys did a great job preparing the cars. The afternoon was a bit fragmented but overall I'm happy. The car feels really good and I'm quite confident."

Friday's practice lap times: mins secs
 1 C Fittipaldi Brz Ford Cos  0:25.486
 2 G Moore      US  Mercedes  0:25.528
 3 B Herta      US  Ford Cos  0:25.541
 4 JJ Lehto     Fin Mercedes  0:25.636
 5 J Vasser     US  Honda     0:25.644
 6 S Pruett     US  Ford Cos  0:25.687
 7 A Fernandez  US  Ford Cos  0:25.721
 8 G de Ferran  Brz Reynard   0:25.721
 9 M Gugelmin   Brz Mercedes  0:25.737
10 M Andretti   US  Ford Cos  0:25.746
11 M Blundell   GB  Mercedes  0:25.765
15 D Franchitti GB  Honda     0:25.861

15.03.98 - CHAMP CARS
Mark Blundell will be seventh on the grid in Sunday's Miami Grand Prix. The race is the first of 19 rounds in the 1998 CART Fedex Championship Series and the former Formula One driver is tipped as one of the favourites. Blundell, who finished sixth in the overall drivers' championship last year, was disappointed with his position but remained confident. "My first and fastest lap was comfortable. But it only matters on Sunday," said Blundell.

Starting grid for Sunday's race:seconds
 1 G Moore      US  Mercedes    24.856
 2 A Ribeiro    Brz Mercedes    25.189
 3 J Vasser     US  Honda       25.206
 4 C Fittipaldi Brz Ford Cos    25.249
 5 A Fernandez  US  Ford Cos    25.255
 6 A Zanardi    It  Honda       25.265
 7 M Blundell   GB  Mercedes    25.288
 8 M Andretti   US  Ford Cos    25.342
 9 P Carpentier Can Mercedes    25.351
10 M Gugelmin   Brz Mercedes    25.403
13 D Franchitti GB  Honda       25.481

RENAULT SPIDER CUP:- Alain Menu, the 1997 BTCC winner, has signed David Henderson to contest the Renault Insurance Services Spider Cup for his Menu Motorsport team. He will line up against old team-mate Simon Hill, who is racing for Mardi Gras Motorsport.

CHAMP CARS:- Mark Blundell and Dario Franchitti finished down the field in the opening Champion Auto Racing Teams race of the season in Miami. Scot Franchitti was ninth, while Blundell - who is being tipped as a title challenger - was 12th. Michael Andretti won the first race of the campaign for the second successive year when edging out Greg Moore. Blundell admitted: "I struggled right from the beginning. The only consolation is that I scored a point."

Sunday's race result:         laps
 1 M Andretti   US  Ford Cos   150
 2 G Moore      Can Mercedes   150
 3 A Zanardi    It  Honda      150
 4 C Fittipaldi Brz Ford Cos   150
 5 S Pruett     US  Ford       150
 6 A Fernandez  Mex Ford Cos   150
 7 G de Ferran  Brz Honda      150
 8 B Herta      US  Ford       150
 9 D Franchitti GB  Honda      150
10 M Gugelmin   Brz Mercedes   150
12 M Blundell   GB  Mercedes   150

F3:- Enrique Bernoldi smashed the lap record during testing for Sunday's opening round at Donington Park. The Brazilian took almost two seconds off the previous best mark but his Promatecme Renault team-mate Marc Hynes was only a quarter-of-a-second slower. Only 1.5 seconds covered the top 13 drivers, underlining how competitive the 20-lap, 50-mile race should be. Defending champions Paul Stewart Racing will have Luciano Burti and Mario Haberfeld leading their charge.

TOURING CARS: (Donington, Testing)
Tuesday's times:              mins secs
 1 J Thompson   GB    Honda    1:10.512
 2 J Plato      GB    Renault  1:10.561
 3 R Rydell     Swe   Volvo    1:10.805
 4 A Menu       Swi   Renault  1:10.812
 5 J Cleland    GB    Vauxhall 1:10.854
 6 P Kox        Hol   Honda    1:10.896
 7 A Reid       GB    Nissan   1:10.979
 8 T Harvey     GB    Peugeot  1:11.029
 9 G Morbidelli It    Volvo    1:11.046
10 Y Muller     Fr    Audi     1:11.075

F1:- The FIA have given the green light for the French Grand Prix to go ahead this season as scheduled. The race, which will run on June 28 at Magny-Cours, was provisionally dropped from the 1998 calendar because of a row over broadcasting rights. FIA chiefs said it had been re-instated because the French parliament had adopted a law clarifying TV rules. The dispute involved the TF1 network and rival FR3, which won a judgment allowing all TV channels on site.

Motor sport bosses have warned that any repeat of the incident between David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen will be "severely punished". Many F1 fans were outraged when Coulthard allowed Hakkinen through to win at the Australian Grand Prix. The decision means that team orders have not been banned but should not be employed again in such circumstances. The FIA also revealed that the ban imposed on Jerez staging another grand prix had been lifted.

TOURING CARS:- Nigel Mansell is poised to make a return to British motor sport this summer in the British Touring Car Championship. The former Formula One champion is lined up to race a Ford Mondeo for the West Surrey Racing Team. Ford have called a press conference in London on Friday and spokesman Philip Hale said: "Ford has attracted one of the greatest names in motor sport." Mansell's last race on home soil was a guest appearance at Donington in 1993.

VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES:- Alister McRae is attempting to drive into the record books with a fourth successive victory in the Rally of Wales, which gets underway on Friday. He beat his nearest rival last year by more than a minute and his Volkswagen team believe win number four is on. "The car is really competitive, I am as fit as I have ever been and the team is in top form. Now it is a question of staying out of trouble," said McRae. "My main rival is Gwyndaf Evans but he has never beaten me on home ground."

Gwyndaf Evans is the man most likely to end Alister McRae's domination of the Rally of Wales. He won the Silverstone opener for SEAT but said: "The Wales event is the most unpredictable rally of the season." Meanwhile, British women's champions Stephanie and Rachael Simmonite will have a new two-wheel drive Ford Escort Super Rally car at their disposal. This event is the first round for drivers as Silverstone was a stage for manufacturers only.

F1:- Damon Hill clocked his fastest time in a Jordan Mugen-Honda in Barcelona. The team changed their test schedule to Spain from Silverstone and have made important developments with the car. Hill posted one minute, 21.55 seconds, although the fastest time at the circuit this year was the 1:21.31 by McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. Brazil hosts the second race of the season next Sunday and Hill said: "We hope to do better than in Australia. We have good reason to believe we will."

TOURING CARS:- Nigel Mansell is to return to the track in selected rounds of the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship. Mansell will contest the BTCC races with Ford Mondeo racing as teammate to regulars Will Hoy and Craig Baird. He said: "Joining Ford Mondeo Racing is an exciting challenge and one which I'm looking forward to immensely. "Ford has been with me since the start of my career, from my first race in Formula Ford, through my Formula One debut to my IndyCar World Series win."

Nigel Mansell has not ruled out a return to Formula One after announcing he would take part in the BTCC with the Ford Mondeo team. The ex-Formula One world champion won 31 grands prix and is relaunching his career in selected rounds of the BTCC this season. He admitted: "I have been itching to get back. "Perhaps I will soon be racing a full season again and I would not rule out a return to Formula One."

VAUXHALL RALLY OF WHEELS:- With more than half the first leg of the Vauxhall Rally of Wales over, Ford have suffered another blow to their championship challenge. Lors-Goran Andersson failed to start because of problems with the engine mapping system. Ford then nominated Philip Young for manufacturer points but the Ulsterman has rolled the Ford on stage four. Volkswagen's Alister McRae is still having misting-up problems and has cut a hole in the roof to vent the car.

Further drama on the Vauxhall Rally of Wales route concerns rally leader Gwyndaf Evans. The SEAT driver completed stage four with co-driver Howard Davies holding his door shut as it would not close. They then found that it was the intercom cable that was getting in the way when it was damaged by the door. They are now continuing the rally without an intercom. But as Gwyndaf knows these stages this should not slow him too much.

LEADERBOARD after 8 of 17 stages:
(interim)                       hr min sec
 1 McRae/Senior     Volkswagen     47:07
 2 Laukkanen/Jarvi  Renault        47:20
 3 Evans/Davies     SEAT           47:24
 4 Rowe/Ringer      Renault        47:31
 5 Higgins/Wood     Subaru         47:55
 6 Mann/Cook        Proton         48:22
 7 Kytolehto/Kapa'n Vauxhall       48:30
 8 Ipatti/Kajula    Mitsubishi     48:39
 9 Easson/Rabbett   Mitsubishi     48:42
10 Milner/Beech     Toyota         48:49

F.PALMER AUDI:- Grid numbers have been increased in Formula Palmer Audi because of the overwhelming demand for drives in the inaugural season. A maximum of 24 drivers can now be catered for, with only three of the extra seats remaining. FPA supremo Jonathan Palmer said: "There was a great deal of pressure for us to run more cars. "Our original order for 26 cars is on course and, allowing for two spares, we can accommodate a final figure of 24."

F3:- Portman Racing will begin their second season in the championship on Sunday with hopes high after securing an engine deal with Renault. The team will run two international class Dallara cars and Warren Hughes will lead the charge for the crown. Alex Yoong, meanwhile, will be competing in his first full F3 season. Hughes said: "I believe if the team performs as it did at the end of last season there is no reason why we cannot challenge for the title."

VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES:- Manxman Martin Rowe, co-driven by Derek Ringer, has won the Vauxhall Rally of Wales in his Renault Maxi Megane. He made the most of the misfortunes of his Mobil 1 Championship rivals to claim the lead on stage 14. Scot Alister McRae's hopes of a record fourth win ended with engine trouble on his Volkswagen which forced him out. Earlier Welshman Gwyndaf Evans slipped off the top of the leaderboard when his SEAT landed heavily, damaging the steering. He battled back to seventh.

Neil Wearden took the inaugural Ferodo Super 1600 Cup in his Honda, having led the class throughout the event. The Simmonite Sisters salvaged Ford's pride with a personal best top 10 place and third in the manufacturer points. They also held off Barbara Armstrong's challenge in the SEAT to win the Pirelli Ladies Cup. Cumbrian Stuart Egglestone in a Vauxhall claimed the British Junior Championship and the Clarion Junior Awards.

The Vauxhall Rally of Wales Historic was overshadowed by two fatalities. Egon Meurer, a co-driver in the rally, died following an accident in which a member of the public was also killed. Meurer was navigating for fellow German Michael Preising, who suffered a broken leg in the incident on the B4518, a road not on the official route. He was airlifted to hospital in Bangor with serious injuries and doctors were unable to save him. Priefing was taken to hospial in Aberystwyth.

FINAL LEADERBOARD after 17 stages:
                              hr min sec
 1 Rowe/Ringer       Renault    2:31.58
 2 Mann/Cook         Proton     2:34.08
 3 Milner/Beech      Toyota     2:35.33
 4 Wearden/Agnew     Honda      2:36.33
 5 Higgins/Wood      Subaru     2:38.25
 6 Porter/Evans      Mitsubishi 2:39.28
 7 Evans/Davies      SEAT       2:39.43
 8 Simmo'te/Simmo'te Ford       2:40.19
 9 Redhead/Thomas    Subaru     2:41.16
10 Armstrong/Addy    SEAT       2:42.03

1 Rowe        32
2 Wearden     28
3 Evans       25
4 Simmonite   22
5 Armstrong   20
6 Egglestone  18

1 SEAT       60
2 Renault    58.5
3 Ford       47
4 Peugeot    42
5 Vauxhall   38
6 Volkswagen 26.5
7 Proton     16
The next event in the Championship is the Pirelli International Rally on 25/26 April, based in Carlisle.

PORTUGUESE RALLY:- Colin McRae's title ambitions have taken a knock so far but the Scot is hoping for better luck when the event gets underway on Sunday. The Subaru driver has been hit by retirements this season and said: "We need a win to get us back on course. "This year the route has changed slightly. The stages are pretty varied, although mainly sandy and fast-flowing. "However, up in the mountains the weather is unpredictable and anything can happen."

Britain's Richard Burns goes into the Rally of Portugal on the crest of a wave after winning the Safari stage. Portugal plays host to the first full gravel rally of the season and the Mitsubishi driver revealed: "I think it should suit me and the car. "Naturally, the Safari win was a real boost to my confidence. It was the first rally I had a good chance of winning this year." His teammate Tommi Makinen cruised to victory in last year's event.

 1 E Bernoldi    Renault      29:48.530
 2 M O'Connell   TOMS Toyota  29:54.405
 3 L Burti       Mugen Honda  29:58.745
 4 M Haberfield  Mugen Honda  30:00.260
 5 M Hynes       Renault      30:08.397
 6 J Spence      Renault      30:09.400
 7 R Mauricio    Mugen Honda  30:18.089
 8 D Cook        Speiss Opel  30:20.763
 9 N Karthikeyan Speiss Opel  30:22.977
10 Y Igarashi    Mugen Honda  30:25.794
 (all Dallara F398s)

Positions after stage 1:     mins secs
 1 D Auriol    Fr   Toyota     3:06.9
 2 T Radstrom  Swe  Toyota     3:07.1
 3 C McRae     GB   Subaru     3:07.7
 4 C Sainz     Sp   Toyota     3:07.8
 5 M Gronholm  Fin  Toyota     3:07.9
 6 P Liatti    It   Subaru     3:08.2
 7 J Kankkunen Fin  Ford       3:08.5
 8 T Makinen   Fin  Mitsubishi 3:08.9
 9 F Loix      Bel  Toyota     3:09.2
10 R Burns     GB   Mitsubishi 3:09.4

F3:- Paul Stewart Racing driver Luciano Burti was delighted after taking third spot in Sunday's British Formula Three Championship opener at Donington. Burti won the Formula Vauxhall Championship with PSR last year, while team-mate Mario Haberfeld - who was fourth ` is in his second F3 season. Team boss Bruce Jenkins said: "Victory would have been a nice way to start the season but consistency is the key. "The drivers have made a good, solid start and we have to build on this."

Positions after stage 10:
(resumes on Tuesday)          mins secs
 1 C McRae     GB   Subaru    1:33.25.5
 2 J Kankkunen Fin  Ford      1:34.09.7
 3 C Sainz     Sp   Toyota    1:34.15.1
 4 T Makinen   Fin  Mitsub'si 1:34.21.8
 5 F Loix      Bel  Toyota    1:34.37.1
 6 R Burns     GB   Mitsub'si 1:34.39.0
 7 P Liatti    It   Subaru    1:34.46.4
 8 T Radstrom  Swe  Toyota    1:35.02.6
 9 A Vatanen   Fin  Ford      1:35.28.7
10 G de Mevius Bel  Subaru    1:35.59.4
Colin McRae kept up a fierce pace and opened up a lead of 44.2 seconds after 10 special stages of the first leg. The Scot, driving a Subaru Impreza, dominated the day to lead Carlos Sainz and Finnish pair Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen. McRae said: "My goal is to win, so I decided to I decided to go as fast as possible right from the beginning." Richard Burns, in sixth place, said: "The stages are very unpredictable and at this pace anything can happen."

IRL:- American Scott Sharp held off series champion Tony Stewart on the last three laps to win the race. Sharp surged off from a restart and team-mate Mark Dismore prevented the reigning Indy Racing League champion Stewart from launching a challenge. On-song Sharp triumphed with an average speed of 98.110mph, while Stewart's second place was enough for him to stay top of the point standings. The next IRL event is the Indianapolis 500 in May.

F.PALMER AUDI:- Japanese star Roger Yasukawa has signed up for the Formula Palmer Audi season. He is currently leading the Barber Dodge series in America and his father Minoru works for McLaren as their Japanese agent. Joining him this year will be Shinya Nakazawa, 19, who has enrolled in the Winfield Racing School in France. Brazilian Jose Cordova, who has raced in the Brazilian Formula Ford series and who won the British FF2000 title in 1989, has also moved to FPA.

F.RENAULT CAMPUS:- Westley Barber, 16, became the youngest British Driver in history to win a car race in round one of the French Renault Campus Cup at Le Mans on Sunday. He and two other Britons are contesting the series after winning the Silverstone-based Elf Fastrack contest.

TOURING CARS:- Ex-Formula One star John Watson is to replace Murray Walker as the new voice of the British Touring Car Championship this season. He will team up with Australian broadcaster and racer Charlie Cox to head the BBC's coverage. Watson revealed: "I am looking forward to the challenge as I have never worked for a terrestrial broadcaster before. Most of all, I am looking forward to adding to the entertainment factor because the BTCC is all about that."

PORTUGUESE RALLY:- Colin McRae held on to his lead after the 20th stage on Tuesday, but saw it eroded to just 11 seconds by the end. Finn Juha Kankkunen started the day strongly to pressure the Scotsman's 44-second overnight lead before suffering late-on with rear-end traction trouble. McRae dropped even more time with a a puncture on leg 14 and Belgian Freddy Loix gradually closed in. World Champion Tomi Makinen crashed out but Britain's Richard Burns climbed the field well to reach fourth place.

Positions after stage 20:     mins secs
 1 C McRae     GB   Subaru    3:11.26.2
 2 F Loix      Bel  Toyota    3:11.37.5
 3 C Sainz     Sp   Toyota    3:11.54.0
 4 R Burns     GB   Mitsub'si 3:12.01.2
 5 A Vatanen   Fin  Ford      3:13.55.8
 6 P Liatti    It   Subaru    3:14.03.0
 7 J Kankkunen Fin  Ford      3:15.07.6
 8 G de Mevius Bel  Subaru    3:15.51.6
 9 R Madeira   Por  Toyota    3:19.04.7
10 K Holowczyc Pol  Subaru    3:19.37.5

D Auriol retired on stage 17
U Nittel retired after stage 15
T Makinen/T Radstrom retired on stage 12

CHAMP CARS:- Mark Blundell is out to kick-start his season in the inaugural CART event in Asia this weekend. The ex-Formula One driver was tipped as a possible title contender after winning three races last year. However, he only picked up a point in Miami last time out and admitted: "The first race in Miami was not great. I am going to Japan with the goal of winning my first short oval race. There is no reason why I cannot be up the front this weekend."

Williams are hoping the second round of the season will give them a chance to prove that McLaren are not going to turn the season into a procession. The furore over David Coulthard's gift win to team-mate Mika Hakkinen in Melbourne overshadowed the fact that McLaren had the race won from the off. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was third Down Under and said: "It will be a big challenge for us to catch up. However, I am convinced we will make big steps in Brazil and Argentina."

Critics of McLaren's team tactics Down Under believe David Coulthard could regret allowing team-mate Mika Hakkinen take the chequered flag in Melbourne. The FIA will not allow a repeat in South America but Coulthard will be out to win on his own merits after being tipped as a possible world champion. McLaren boss Ron Dennis is delighted with the team's start to the campaign. "It has been a positive and encouraging technical performance to which the whole team has contributed," he said.

The much-vaunted showdown between Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve failed to reach fruition in the first race of the season. The German did not finish, while the world champion was fifth but the Ferrari and Williams cars may be more suited to the Interlagos circuit. For once, Williams are not clear favourites and Villeneuve said: "I enjoy being the underdog. It is a good position to be in because you have to fight harder."

Damon Hill's race engineer Dino Toso admits that he learned a lot about the ex-world champion in the opening race in Australia. Toso joined Jordan in 1996 and said: "I learned more about what help he wants. Unlike most drivers, he wants you to talk to him often during the race to tell him what other drivers are doing." Hill, who was eighth in Melbourne, said: "We have managed to find a couple of things which seem to have made an important difference to the times."

Stewart star Rubens Barrichello is classing the Interlagos race as his first start of the season after his disastrous time in Australia. "I am looking forward to my 'first' grand prix of the season since I did not get a start in Melbourne," revealed the Brazilian. "Driving on my home track in front of my home fans means so much to me. With the testing I have done, I have been delighted with the feel of the car and really want to achieve a finish."

Prost star Olivier Panis was third in Brazil last year and a repeat performance seems unlikely as his team are still beset by difficulties. "The gearbox problems we had in the winter prevented us from developing the performance of the car," he said. "We are likely to suffer from those early delays in Sao Paolo on Sunday and then a fortnight later in Buenos Aires. With the first three races out of Europe it is difficult to get enough testing to zero in on the target."

Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill are the only competing drivers to have won the Brazil race. Jacques Villeneuve won last year - after the grand prix was stopped because of a first-lap incident. The Interlagos race is over 72 laps and 309.02km. A lap is 2.667 miles. Mika Hakkinen claimed only his second pole position in Melbourne. Bridgestone earned their first pole and first win at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Interlagos circuit was privately financed and opened for racing in 1940. Within 10 years it had passed into municipal ownership. Interlagos hosted its first grand prix in 1973. The track is named after Brazilian Carlos Pace, who had his only grand prix win there in 1975. He died in a plane crash two years later. Sao Paolo stars Emerson Fittipaldi (twice) and Pace won the first three championship races at Interlagos.

1997 result:
 1 J Villeneuve Can  Williams
 2 G Berger     Aut  Benetton
 3 O Panis      Fr   Prost
 4 M Hakkinen   Fin  McLaren
 5 M Schumacher Ger  Ferrari
 6 J Alesi      Fr   Benetton
 7 J Herbert    GB   Sauber
 8 G Fisichella It   Jordan
 9 H-H Frentzen Ger  Williams
10 D Coulthard  GB   McLaren
Fastest race lap: J Villeneuve 1:18.397

Previous winners:
1997 J Villeneuve Can  Williams
1996 D Hill       GB   Williams
1995 M Schumacher Ger  Benetton
1994 M Schumacher Ger  Benetton
1993 A Senna      Brz  McLaren
1992 N Mansell    GB   Williams
1991 A Senna      Brz  McLaren
1990 A Prost      Fr   Ferrari

at Jacarepagua (Rio de Janeiro):
1989 N Mansell    GB   Ferrari
1988 A Prost      Fr   McLaren
1987 A Prost      Fr   McLaren
1986 N Piquet     Brz  Williams
1985 A Prost      Fr   McLaren
1984 A Prost      Fr   McLaren

TOURING CARS:- Nissan are aiming to build on their debut season in the British Touring Car Championship in 1997 and testing for the new campaign has been promising. The team's new Primera GT race car will be driven by Scotsmen David Leslie and Anthony Reid. Spokesman Brian Carolin said: "We were encouraged by our progress last year and by the end of the year we were challenging the pace-setters. Everybody on the programme has made a super-human effort this year."

PORTUGUESE RALLY:- Britain's Colin McRae has won the Rally of Portugal by 2.1 seconds. The Subaru star is targeting another world title after just missing out last season but he has failed to finish the previous two events. Spaniard Carlos Sainz made a determined effort to catch the Scot in his Toyota on the final day. However, McRae claimed the 14th win of his career, while Freddy Loix was third, despite gearbox problems. Safari Rally winner Richard Burns was fourth.

Richard Burns followed up his Safari Rally win earlier this month with fourth place in the Rally of Portugal. The result takes Burns' points total in the drivers' standings to 15 but he revealed: "I am a bit disappointed. We made a wrong tyre choice but we have come out with the same position in the championship as when we started." Twenty-seven-year-old Burns is based in Oxford and added: "Also we have finished another rally without biffing the car, which is good."

Final positions after 28 stages:mins secs
 1 C McRae     GB   Subaru    4:20.58.1
 2 C Sainz     Sp   Toyota    4:21.00.2
 3 F Loix      Bel  Toyota    4:21.43.9
 4 R Burns     GB   Mitsub'si 4:21.51.2
 5 A Vatanen   Fin  Ford      4:24.18.3
 6 P Liatti    It   Subaru    4:24.22.3
 7 J Kankkunen Fin  Ford      4:24.35.0
 8 G de Mevius Bel  Subaru    4:27.57.1
 9 R Madeira   Por  Toyota    4:31.22.2
10 K Holowczyc Pol  Subaru    4:32.56.2

D Auriol retired on stage 17
U Nittel retired after stage 15
T Makinen/T Radstrom retired on stage 12

Driver standings:             Points
1 C Sainz     Sp    Toyota      22
2 J Kankkunen Fin   Ford        16
3 R Burns     GB    Mitsubishi  15
4 C McRae     GB    Subaru      14
5 T Makinen   Fin   Mitsubishi  10
6 A Vatanen   Fin   Ford         6

Manufacturer standings:
1 Toyota          25 pts
2 Mitsubishi      25
3 Ford            23
4 Subaru          21

F.PALMER AUDI:- Juliano Moro has joined Formula Palmer Audi for this season, with the backing of ex-Formula One triple champion Nelson Piquet. Moro is the third Brazilian to sign up for the discipline and he knows Piquet through his father's kart company. In 1996, he claimed the Brazilian Formula Ford title and raced in one of the South American F3 events - but had to borrow a set of Piquet's overalls. FPA boss Jonathan Palmer said: "Some see Juliano as the next Ayrton Senna."

26.03.98 - F1
Ferrari have lodged a complaint against McLaren, Jordan and Williams, accusing them of using illegal braking systems. The Italian team lodged the complaints on the eve of first day practice for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. Ferrari were joined by Arrows, Tyrrell and Minardi in issuing formal complaints against the three teams. Sauber only identified Jordan in their statement and the Brazilian race authorities immediately convened a meeting to assess the complaints.

World championship leader Mika Hakkinen led another McLaren-dominated session on the opening day of practice. Hakkinen, who took the opening race in Melbourne, again headed the Scot who was celebrating his 27th birthday. The flying Finn was half a second quicker than Coulthard with Ralf Schumacher 1.5 seconds adrift in third. Jacques Villeneuve was next while Damon Hill finished ninth after colliding with the metal barrier when going into the pits.

Friday's leading free practice times:
                              mins secs
 1 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  1:18.593
 2 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  1:18.799
 3 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan   1:19.721
 4 O Panis        Fr  Peugeot  1:19.786
 5 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  1:19.916
 6 A Wurz         Aut Benetton 1:19.936
 7 H-H Frentzen   Ger Williams 1:19.937
 8 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  1:20.010
 9 J Alesi        Fr  Sauber   1:20.021
10 J Villeneuve   Can Williams 1:20.031
11 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari  1:20.164
12 D Hill         GB  Jordan   1:20.527
13 G Fisichella   It  Benetton 1:20.777
14 J Magnussen    Den Stewart  1:20.839
15 J Trulli       It  Prost    1:20.919
16 M Salo         Fin Arrows   1:21.116
17 P Diniz        Brz Arrows   1:21.298
18 T Tagaki       Jpn Tyrrell  1:21.598
19 E Tuero        Arg Minardi  1:21.901
20 S Nakano       Jpn Minardi  1:21.938
21 R Rosset       Brz Tyrrell  1:22.962
22 J Herbert      GB  Sauber   2:06.081
Formula One is engulfed in another row after teams ganged up to lodge a formal protest against McLaren. The teams have challenged the legality of McLaren's braking system, which effectively creates four-wheel driving. Separate protests have also been lodged against the Williams and Jordan teams, which have a similar system. Race stewards instructed the three teams to disable the system for the free practice sessions for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.

TOURING CARS:- James Thompson and Honda topped the the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship official testing timesheet on Friday at Silverstone. After two days of testing Thompson's Accord emerged quickest by more than a tenth of a second. BTCC's latest recruit Gianni Morbidelli came second in the speed rankings with reigning champion Alain Menu in fifth. Further testing is scheduled for the Brands Hatch circuit next week, ahead of the championship opener at Thruxton.

CHAMP CARS:- ROUND 2 - times from Motegi:
 1 J Vasser     US  Honda    25.584
 2 A Fernandez  Mex Ford Cos 25.615
 3 G de Ferran  Brz Honda    25.684
 4 A Zanardi    It  Honda    25.720
 5 G Moore      Can Mercedes 25.754
 6 D Franchitti GB  Honda    25.820
 7 M Blundell   GB  Mercedes 25.825
 8 A Ribeiro    Brz Mercedes 25.875
 9 B Herta      US  Ford     25.927
10 T Kanaan     Brz Honda    25.929

Friday practice and qualifying cancelled due to rain.
Times from Thursday's combined practice

F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP Mika Hakkinen confirmed McLaren's prowess as he took pole for Sunday's Brazilian showdown. The flying Finn, who took the opening race in Melbourne, clinched his second pole of the season in some style. Teammate David Coulthard took second spot while Heinz-Harald Frentzen was third and Michael Schumacher fourth. Hakkinen and five other drivers escaped punishment after stewards decided to take no action against them for ignoring yellow flags during practice.

Saturday's qualifying times:   mins sec
 1 M Hakkinen     Fin McLaren  1:17.092
 2 D Coulthard    GB  McLaren  1:17.757
 3 H-H Frentzen   Ger Williams 1:18.109
 4 M Schumacher   Ger Ferrari  1:18.250
 5 A Wurz         Aut Benetton 1:18.261
 6 E Irvine       GB  Ferrari  1:18.449
 7 G Fisichella   It  Benetton 1:18.652
 8 R Schumacher   Ger Jordan   1:18.735
 9 O Panis        Fr  Peugeot  1:18.753
10 J Villeneuve   Can Williams 1:18.761
11 D Hill         GB  Jordan   1:18.988
12 J Trulli       It  Prost    1:19.069
13 R Barrichello  Brz Stewart  1:19.344
14 J Herbert      GB  Sauber   1:19.375
15 J Alesi        Fr  Sauber   1:19.449
16 J Magnussen    Den Stewart  1:19.644
17 T Tagaki       Jpn Tyrrell  1:20.203
18 S Nakano       Jpn Minardi  1:20.390
19 E Tuero        Arg Minardi  1:20.459
20 M Salo         Fin Arrows   1:20.481
21 R Rosset       Brz Tyrrell  1:20.748
22 P Diniz        Brz Arrows   1:20.847
Stewards at the Brazilian Grand Prix have upheld a protest against McLaren's new braking system, deeming it illegal. The protest, led by Ferrari, forced McLaren to turn off the system during Friday's practice session. Stewards then decided on Saturday the system was in effect a steering device, which is not allowed in the sport. McLaren were given the all clear by the FIA's technical department over the matter, but McLaren boss Ron Dennis said he would abide by the ruling.

CHAMP CARS:- Martin Blundell finished 10th in the Japanese leg of the 1998 CART FedEx Championships. The top 10 placing in the Budweiser 500 in Motegi earned the Mercedes driver three points while Scotland's Dario Franchitti was an impressive eighth. Mexican Adrian Fernandez held off American Al Unser Jr in the last five-lap sprint to win the race. Fernandez, driving with a Ford-powered Reynard chassis, kept his narrow lead to win the 201-lap event.

Saturday's round 2 result from Motegi:
 1 A Fernandez  Mex Ford     201 laps
 2 A Unser Jnr  US  Mercedes 201
 3 G de Ferran  Brz Honda    201
 4 G Moore      Can Mercedes 201
 5 P Tracy      Can Honda    201
 6 T Kanaan     Brz Honda    200
 7 J Vasser     US  Honda    200
 8 D Franchitti GB  Honda    200
 9 A Ribeiro    Brz Mercedes 199
10 M Blundell   GB  Mercedes 199

The magnificent McLarens repeated their opening triumph Down Under by again claiming a one-two. Mika Hakkinen made it two wins out of two but this time he needed no help from David Coulthard in second place. Finn Hakkinen and Scottish team-mate Coulthard led from start to finish and built up such a lead that they did not even lose ground with pitstops. Michael Schumacher was third, world champion Jacques Villeneuve was seventh and Damon Hill was 10th.

Early last season Mika Hakkinen was beginning to wonder if he would ever win a grand prix but now he has claimed three victories in succession. However, after being helped to the top of the podium in Jerez last season and in Australia this year, this was a win that no-one can dispute. The Finn is now eight points clear of team-mate David Coulthard in the drivers' standings. McLaren have four times as many points as nearest rivals Ferrari.

Flying Finn Mika Hakkinen found the Brazilian circuit more difficult than Melbourne, despite his seemingly easy grand prix victory. "I am very happy," he said. "I would say both races were quite equal but obviously the Brazilian circuit is a bit tougher. It is anti-clockwise and much harder work than Melbourne." McLaren's braking system had been declared illegal but that ruling failed to thwart the in-form team.

David Coulthard failed to put one over Mika Hakkinen after handing him the glory in the opening race of the year. After clinching another second place, Coulthard said: "I would have been happier to have been first. owever, all weekend Mika has had the edge so taking that into consideration it was good." The Scot is known for his quick starts but admitted: "I did not get away as quick as I would have liked. Hopefully, I can get it right in Argentina."

Benetton 'rookies' Alexander Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella put many of their more experienced rivals in the shade. Wurz was fourth and Fisichella was sixth and team boss Dave Richards was delighted with their performance. "It was an incredible race," he said. "Alexander has never raced here in his life. He did an amazing job. "He made a superb overtaking move on the first corner on Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The potential is there, not just the drivers but the designer."

Damon Hill failed to give team boss Eddie Jordan an early birthday present. Jordan is 50 on Monday but after Hill excelled in testing last week, he was excluded from the official results when his car failed the post-race weigh-in. Sauber's Johnny Herbert was forced to retire towards the end of the race with technical problems. Ulsterman Eddie Irvine also finished out of the points. He had overtaken team-mate Michael Schumacher at the start but then finished eighth.

Eddie Jordan said he wanted to forget events in Brazil after Damon Hill was excluded from the results and Ralf Schumacher went out in the first lap. "I don't think it gets much worse than this," he said. "The race was very disappointing from our point of view. I think Ralf could have given us a good start so it was awful to see him go off when he did. Damon lost several places at the start and it is difficult to fight back from so far down the grid."

Race result after 72 laps:   hr min sec
 1 M Hakkinen   Fin McLaren  1:37.11.74
 2 D Coulthard  GB  McLaren  1:37.12.84
 3 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari  1:38.12.29
 4 A Wurz       Aut Benetton 1:38.19.20
 5 H-H Frentzen Ger Williams 1:37.14.44
 6 G Fisichella It  Benetton 1:37.19.57
 7 J Villeneuve Can Williams 1:37.23.65
 8 E Irvine     GB  Ferrari  1:37.28.65
 9 J Alesi      Fr  Sauber   1:37.42.22
10 J Magnussen  Den Stewart   two laps

Did not finish:
11 J Herbert     GB  Sauber     67 laps
12 O Panis       Fr  Prost      63
13 R Barrichello Brz Stewart    56
14 R Rosset      Brz Tyrrell    52
15 E Tuero       Arg Minardi    44
16 P Diniz       Brz Arrows     26
17 T Takagi      Jpn Tyrrell    19
18 M Salo        Fin Arrows     18
19 J Trulli      It  Prost      17
20 S Nakano      Jpn Minardi     3
21 R Schumacher  Ger Jordan      0
Fastest lap:  M Hakkinen 1:19.337
Disqualified: D Hill     Jordan

1 M Hakkinen    Fin  McLaren   20 pts
2 D Coulthard   GB   McLaren   12
3 H-H Frentzen  Ger  Williams   6
4 M Schumacher  Ger  Ferrari    4
5 E Irvine      GB   Ferrari    3
= A Wurz        Aut  Benetton   3
7 J Villeneuve  Can  Williams   2
8 J Herbert     GB   Sauber     1
= G Fisichella  It   Benetton   1

1 McLaren-Mercedes      32 pts
2 Williams-Mecachrome    8
3 Ferrari                7
4 Benetton               4
5 Sauber-Petronas        1
F3:- Enrique Bernoldi claimed his second victory in a row at Thruxton to increase his lead in the championship. The Silverstone-based teenager caught pole man Martin O'Connell on the first corner and led throughout the race. "It was hard for me to win this race," the Brazilian said. "The track was damp at the start and I had to push hard to keep ahead of Martin." Warren Hughes was third, despite being unable to test at the circuit, with Jamie Spence back in sixth.

NORTH HUMBERSIDE RALLY:- Mark Perrott and co-driver Garry Mansell won the second round of the SEAT Finance Super Six Series - the North Humberside Forest Rally. Perrott's won four of the event's six stages to triumph by 11 seconds.

F.PALMER AUDI:- Ian James, runner-up in the 1994 Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship, has signed up for Formula Palmer Audi. He also competed in the Skip Barber 2000 Eastern Series in America in 1995 and had four wins from six races until his season was ended by an accident.

30.03.98 - F1
David Coulthard will not be pressing the panic button after finishing behind McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen for the second race in a row this season. The Scot is eight points behind Hakkinen in the drivers' race after he was second in Brazil on Sunday. He insisted: "I am not panicking. I have not been 100 per cent even though I have been on the front row. There is a long way to go. Jacques Villeneuve had a big lead last year but it still went to the final race."

31.03.98 - F1
World champion Jacques Villeneuve has hit out at Williams over the car they have prepared for him this season. Both Williams were lapped by the McLarens in Brazil and the British team have just eight points to McLaren's 32 after two races. Villeneuve said: "As for my car, the less said the better. I was not best pleased that my FW20 sounded like one of the new guitar pieces that I am learning and my times confirmed my unease."