October 1998

TOURING CARS:- British Touring Car champion Rickard Rydell made the ideal start to his Bathurst 1,000km bid in Australia. The Swede was fastest in Thursday's qualifying session, in which six BTCC regulars finished in the top eight. Rydell's Volvo recorded a fastest lap of 2mins 18.354secs, 0.1 seconds quicker than leading BTCC independent driver Matt Neal in a Nissan. A total of 42 cars are bidding for glory at Bathurst, with Sunday's race expected to last for around seven hours.

RALLYING:- The Skoda Trophy has joined forces with the 1999 Mobil One British Rally Championship and will be part of the six-round event next year. It will start with the Vauxhall Rally of Wales in March and finish with September's Manx International Rally. The Trophy will allow drivers to run their existing Group N Skoda Felicia 1300 rally cars. The driver who sets the greatest number of fastest stage times will earn two bonus points at each event.

GOLDEN JUBILEE RACEDAY:- Silverstone hosts the climax to two championships on Sunday in the Hill House Hammond Golden Jubilee Raceday. The final rounds of the Privilege Insurance GT and Autosport Formula 3 championships, plus ten supporting races, will take place. Milton Keynes-based Paul Stewart Racing are going for a sixth Formula 3 crown in just seven years. The GT championship sees Steve O'Rourke and Tim Sugden defending their lead in a McLaren F1GTR.

SCOTTISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- This year's title will be decided in the Championship's eighth and final round this weekend on the Park Systems Furniture Stages Rally in Prestwick. Jimmy Paterson starts as favourite with a 10-point lead over Jim Carty, who was hot favourite in the previous round until he crashed out. Reigning Scottish champion Brian Lyall will take part while Neale Dougan makes his first appearance of the season. Jimmy McRae, Andy Horne and Jon Burns should also be in contention.

CONWY HONDA CAMBRIAN RALLY:- The Llandudno-based race takes place on Saturday in the forests of North Wales as drivers battle for the Gold and Silver Star titles. Theo Bengry and Steve Winter are in the running for the Silver trophy and the first to cross the line wins it. However they will both be competing against John Roberts for outright victory on the day. Martyn Price and Adam Kent are favourites for the Gold Star prize.


F3 (Silverstone):-
Combined qualifying times (Sat):
                          mins secs
 1 E Bernoldi    Renault   1:15.465
 2 K Kolby       Honda     1:15.506
 3 A Young       Honda     1:15.640
 4 M Haberfield  Honda     1:15.826
 5 R Mauricio    Honda     1:15.912
 6 M Boost       Honda     1:15.936
 7 N Karthikeyan Honda     1:15.986
 8 A Pavicevic   Honda     1:16.042
 9 M Hynes       Renault   1:16.203
10 W Hughes      Renault   1:16.094

SCOTTISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Jimmy Paterson clinched the title when he won the final round of the championship after top seed Neale Duncan suffered gearbox trouble. Title rival Jim Carty finished in second place and was also runner-up in the championship. Andy Kelly won the Group N title and finished in third place in the main championship placings. Jimmy McRae was in contention for the rally win but once again his Porsche developed an engine fault.

Result after 4 stages (Sat):mins secs
1 Paterson/Harris  Subaru    41:22
2 Carty/Bell       MG Metro  41:39
3 Horne/Howie      MG Metro  42:07
4 Burn/Quirk       MG Metro  42:30
5 Kelly/Campbell   Escort    42:57
6 Wagner/Stark     Audi      43:27

1 J Paterson       202 pts
2 J Carty          190
3 A Kelly          154 (1st Group N)
4 S McQueen        150

Result after 12 stages:     hr min sec
 1 G Jones     Subaru         1:00.50
 2 R Gough     Mitsubishi     1:01.04
 3 I Joel      Escort Cos     1:01.07
 4 T Bengry    Mitsubishi     1:01.20
 5 D Higgins   Honda Civic    1:01.42
 6 D Goulding  Ford Sierra    1:03.16
 7 M Price     Escort RS2000  1:03.17
 8 A Kent      Peugeot        1:03.33
 9 P Walker    Mazda 323      1:03.39
10 P Morgan    Peugeot        1:03.46
Steve Winter was denied the BTRDA title after technical problems right at the start of the Cambrian Rally. Winters said: "Obviously we're gutted not to win the title but we do hold onto second place in the championship. "It would have been better to concede the fight on the outcome of the stage times than with a mechanical failure." The title eventually went to Leominster's Theo Bengry, who finished the rally in fourth postion overall to secure victory.

TOURING CARS:- British Touring Car champion Rickard Rydell broke the two-litre lap record by almost two seconds to give Volvo its first pole position in this event. Rydell had the fastest time for Sunday's race in the traditional one- lap dash between the top ten qualifiers He went round the 3.8 mile circuit in 2:14.92 in the works Volvo S40 he is driving with five-time Bathurst champion Jim Richards of Australia. Rydell beat the lap record set a year ago by England's Jason Plato.

CHAMP CARS (Houston):- Dario Franchitti will start second and Paul Tracy fourth in Sunday's inaugural Texaco Grand Prix after Saturday's final qualifying session. Greg Moore won his fourth pole position to pull even with Franchitti in poles won this season. Moore was only 0.062 seconds faster than Franchitti in a lap time of 59.580secs averaging 92.377mph with Franchitti clocking 59.570 (92.281mph). Britain's Mark Blundell faces an uphill task when he starts 22nd on the grid.

Texaco GP qualifying times (Sat):
 1 G Moore            59.508
 2 D Franchitti       59.570
 3 J Vasser           59.720
 4 P Tracy            59.735
 5 C Fittipaldi       59.763
 6 B Herta            59.812
 7 G de Ferran        59.844
 8 A Zanardi          59.986
 9 A Ribairo          60.266
10 T Kanaan           60.281
20 M Blundell         60.906

F3:- Mario Haberfeld rounded off his championship year in style, taking his sixth win of the season. A season-long battle with Enrique Bernoldi was only ended when the two clashed, Bernoldi retiring to the pits and Haberfield recovering from a spin. Haberfield then picked up the lead again for the remaining nine laps on a track made treacherous by light rain. Kristian Kolby got the better of Narain Karthikeyan for second place in his first year of Formula Three.

Round 16 result (Sun):    mins secs
 1 M Haberfeld   Honda    30:49.251
 2 K Kolby       Honda    30:54.966
 3 N Karthikeyan Honda    30:58.034
 4 W Hughes      Renault  31:01.578
 5 M Brentwood   Honda    31:05.316
 6 L Burti       Honda    31:08.180
 7 Y Igarashi    Honda    31:12.231
 8 B Collins     Opel     31:15.930
 9 T Spouge      Honda    31:33.119
10 A Wilcox      Opel     31:40.756

Final positions after 16 rounds:   pts
 1 M Haberfeld Brz Paul Stewart    218
 2 E Bernoldi  Brz Pr'ecme Renault 163
 3 L Burti     Brz Paul Stewart    137
 4 W Hughes    GB  Portman Arrows  132
 5 M O'Connell GB  Rowan Racing    114
 6 K Kolby     Den Fortec M'sport   82
 7 R Mauricio  Brz Alan Docking     78
 8 D Manning   GB  Speedsport       65
 9 M Hynes     GB  Pr'ecme/Renault  57
10 J Spence    GB  Martin Donnelly  54

BATHURST 1000km:- Kiwi Jim Richards won his sixth Bathurst title as he teamed up with Swedish driver Rickard Rydell to give Volvo its first win at Mt Panorama. Richards shared a Volvo S40 with BTCC winner Rydell in a race-long duel with the Nissan of Richards' son Steven and Matt Neal. Richards and Rydell finished two seconds ahead at the chequered flag. Australian two-litre touring car champion Brad Jones and Cameron McConville finished third in an Audi.

Result from Mt Panorama: hrs mins laps
 1 Rydell/Richards  Volvo 6:54.23  161
 2 Richards/Neal    N'san 6:54.25  161
 3 Jones/McConville Audi  6:54.49  161
 4 McLean/Scott     BMW   6:54.29  159
 5 Cleland/Warwick  V'tra 6:54.27  157
 6 Hills/Beninca    Ford  6:56.57  155
 7 Searle/Searle    BMW   6:54.58  152
 8 Wilson/Forbes    BMW   6:55.08  152
 9 N'son//Mat/H'den BMW   6:54.27  145
10 Bell/Hicks       BMW   6:55.34  144

RALLYING:- The Mobil 1 British Rally Championship will retain its existing vehicle regulations into the next century. The RAC Motor Sports Association said it would keep the current regulations for at least the next two years but also unveiled some other changes. From next year, every event will permit pre-event reconnaisance of special stages and all work on cars will be carried out in timed services zones. Changes to the championship scoring system will also hope to simplify it.

CHAMP CARS:- Scotland's Dario Franchitti won his third race of the season, capturing the rain-shortened Grand Prix of Houston. Alex Zanardi of Italy was second, followed by Brazil's Tony Kanaan and Jimmy Vasser. The top four drivers were all driving Reynard-Honda's, which clinched the Manufacturer's Championship. The inaugural race was delayed for 37 minutes at the start due to rain and later for 17 minutes under a red flag caused when several cars collided.

Texaco GP result (Sun):Completed laps
 1 D Franchitti GB         70
 2 A Zanardi               70
 3 T Kanaan                70
 4 J Vasser                70
 5 M Papis                 70
 6 A Fernandez             70
 7 A Unser jr              70
 8 B Herta                 70
 9 R Hearn                 70
10 JJ Lehto                70
14 M Blundell   GB         68


Driver ratings (October 5)       Points
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Formula One  1099
 2 M Hakkinen    Fin Formula One  1085
 3 A Zanardi     It  Champ Car    1069
 4 J Gordon      US  NASCAR       1002
 5 M Martin      US  NASCAR        889
 6 D Coulthard   GB  Formula One   805
 7 J Montoya     Col F3000         761
 8 E Irvine      GB  Formula One   758
 9 U Alzen       Ger GTCC          734
10 B Schneider   Ger FIA GTs       715

F1:- Pedro Diniz has agreed to drive for the Swiss-based Sauber team in next year's World Championship. The Brazilian, who is currently with Arrows, replaces Britain's Johnny Herbert and will partner Jean Alesi. "We are delighted we could sign Pedro who has the necessary experience with four years in Formula One and 65 Grands Prix under his belt," a spokesman said. Diniz said: "I will do my very best to justify the confidence placed in me with adequate results."

RALLYING:- Armin Schwarz will lead Skoda's charge on the World Rally Championship next year in the Octavia car, which will be unveiled later this month. The car will be on show at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham and will make its competition debut at the Monte Carlo Rally in January.

F.PALMER AUDI:- Sheffield's Justin Wilson takes a 21 point lead into the 14th round of the series at Snetterton on Sunday. The competition cannot be decided this weekend, however, and matters will not be finalised until the double header at Donington Park the following week. There are 72 points available, and Darren Turner in second place knows that he can still take the title. Only one driver can earn the right to race in next season's F3000, the prize for winning the Palmer Audi crown.

F1:- Michael Schumacher has dismissed reports that Ferrari are going to swap Eddie Irvine for Sauber's Jean Alesi. Alesi has been linked with a return to Ferrari but Schumacher said: "I don't think Eddie can go, he's got a contract next year and I work well with him." Ferrari are turning their thoughts to the Championship-deciding race in Japan next month. "We are taking great care in our preparations for the race," said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.


Positions after stage 1:       min sec
 1 MacKinnon/Stayte Subaru      51:10
 2 C Duffy/H Duffy  Ford        51:30
 3 Price/Broad      MG Metro    53:35
 4 Griffiths/Jones  Subaru      53:57
 5 Davies/Pin'ton   Ford        54:41
 6 Cressey/Grindrod Opel        55:09
 7 Harper/Reger     Vauxhall    55:13
 8 Bird/Pulleyn     Vauxhall    55:45
 9 O'Donnell/O'Dll  Ford        56:11
10 Barry/Whittaker  Mitsubishi  56:54

F.PALMER AUDI:- Darren Turner closed the gap in the title race as he claimed a valuable victory in Round 14. He shrugged off some early pressure from Sam Hancock and went on to seal his third win of the season. Australia's Stephen White also turned in a determined display to finish in second place with Topi Serjala moving up from eighth on the grid for third. Justin Wilson still leads the championship but Turner has cut his lead to just nine points.

Sunday's round 14 result:    mins secs
 1 D Turner       GB         16:38.748
 2 S White        Aus        16:39.790
 3 T Serjala      Fin        16:42.078
 4 J Wilson       GB         16:42.983
 5 J Moro         Brz        16:44.995
 6 F Maluhy       Brz        16:48.601
 7 S Hancock      GB         16:51.496
 8 P Clarke       GB         16:54.034
 9 D Faulkner     GB         16:54.934
10 B Wirdheim     Swe        16:55.516

 1 Justin Wilson    GB   192 points
 2 Darren Turner    GB   183
 3 Richard Tarling  GB   168
 = Topi Serjala     Fin  168
 5 Peter Clarke     GB   161
 6 Damien Faulkner  Ire  158
 7 Felipe Maluhy    Brz  139
 8 Stephen White    NZ   132
 9 Justin Keen      GB   127
10 Juliano Moro     Brz  103

SAN REMO RALLY:- Flying Scotsman Colin McRae is aiming for his third successive San Remo Rally win as he aims to close the gap on World Championship leader Carlos Sainz. McRae trails the Spaniard by nine points going into the final three rallies of the series, but his Italian record is impressive. "You always fight for victory but this year ` much the same as last year ` we need the ten points," said McRae. "I feel confident we can win but others probably think the same way" he added.

Richard Burns continues his World Rally Championship learning curve with a first-ever visit to the San Remo rally, which starts on Monday. Burns has conceded defeat in the World title race but feels he can help Mitsubishi to the manufacturers' title. "I'm quitting Mitsubishi for Subaru at the end of the season but it would be great to end on a high note," he said. "This is another rally which is a totally new experience for me so I'll be at a huge disadvantage," he added.

PHILLIPS TOUR OF MULL RALLY:- Calum and Hugh Duffy claimed a thrilling win on the 29th running of the race. With four stages to go Neil MacKinnon had been on course for victory but a faulty alternator forced him to retire from this year's event. Oswestry's Chris Griffiths finished runner-up for the third year in a row with eight times national tarmac champion John Price in third. Eddie O'Donnell reinforced a strong local presence by coming fourth.

Final positions:            hr min sec
 1 C Duffy/H Duffy  Ford      2:37:46
 2 Griffiths/Jones  Subaru    2:40:18
 3 Price/Broad      MG Metro  2:41:49
 4 O'Donnell/O'Dll  Ford      2:44:04
 5 Cressey/Grindrod Open      2:45:39
 6 Bird/Pulleyn     Vauxhall  2:47:06
 7 Harper/Reger     Vauxhall  2:51:31
 8 Miller/Bailey    Ford      2:52:02
 9 Hudson/McKinlay  Ford      2:53:38
10 Cotton/Moss      Vauxhall  2:54:45

SPORTSCARS:- Wayne Taylor booked a spot in next year's Le Mans 24 hour race by winning the inaugural Petit Le Mans endurance race in Georgia. England's David Brabham's team was 10th while a side featuring Scotland's Allan McNish finished 20th.


Driver ratings (October 12)      Points
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Formula One  1099
 2 M Hakkinen    Fin Formula One  1085
 3 A Zanardi     It  Champ Car    1069
 4 J Gordon      US  NASCAR       1011
 5 M Martin      US  NASCAR        868
 6 D Coulthard   GB  Formula One   805
 7 J Montoya     Col F3000         761
 8 E Irvine      GB  Formula One   758
 9 U Alzen       Ger GTCC          734
10 B Schneider   Ger FIA GTs       715

SAN REMO RALLY:- World rally champion Tommi Makinen leads the San Remo rally after a thrilling day-long battle with local driver Piero Liatti in San Remo. The Finn went ahead on the second stage of the first leg and ended the day with an advantage of 3.7 seconds over Liatti The pair exchanged fastest times over the day's eight tarmac surface stages. World championship leader Carlos Sainz was back in fourth, with Britain's Colin McRae, the other leading title contender struggling in ninth place.

Positions after first day:   hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mit'bshi  1:22.45.6
 2 P Liatti    It  Subaru    1:22.49.3
 3 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota    1:23.06.7
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota    1:23.16.3
 5 F Delecour  Fr  Peugeot   1:23.22.1
 6 B Thiry     Bel Ford      1:23.37.7
 7 P Bugalski  Fr  Citroen   1:23.46.3
 8 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot   1:23.55.9
 9 C McRae     GB  Subaru    1:23.58.5
10 F Cunico    It  Ford      1:24.04.3

IRL:- Sweden's Kenny Brack won the Indy Racing League championship after finishing 10th at the Las Vegas 500. Brack said: "It has been a good season. We have had our ups and downs. But we came out on top. So we have got to be happy with that."

TOURING CARS:- Former British Touring Car champions Audi will not compete in next year's series. The team won the drivers, manufacturers and team titles in 1996.

SAN REMO RALLY:- Colin McRae powered into contention on the second day of the San Remo rally after an awesome display of dominance rocketed him from ninth to third. The Scot started the day on a charge in his Subaru, climbing to fifth position within three stages and fourth by the end of stage 13. With around 40 seconds between himself and Carlos Sainz, McRae pushed hard and ended the day 10 seconds ahead. McRae said: "We needed to get ahead of Carlos for the championship."

Juha Kankunen and Didier Auriol have been forced out of the rally after separate incidents on the second day. Finland's Kankunen crashed during the fifth of the day's 10 special stages. Toyota driver Auriol went off the road and struck a rock during the the third stage, damaging the French driver's suspension and driveshaft. Overnight leader and defending overall world champion Tommi Makinen held a 14-second advantage over Italy's Piero Latti with five stages left Tuesday.

Positions after Leg 1:      hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mit'bshi  3:21:37.3
 2 P Liatti    It  Subaru    3:22:05.8
 3 C McRae     GB  Subaru    3:22:59.6
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota    3:23:09.6
 5 R Burns     GB  Mit'bshi  3:24:02.5
 6 B Thiry     Bel Ford      3:24:47.8
 7 P Bugalski  Fr  Citroen   3:25:13.7
 8 A Dal'villa It  Subaru    3:25:17.7
 9 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot   3:25:20.7
10 A Navarra   It  Subaru    3:25.46.8

SAN REMO RALLY:- Reigning world champion Tommi Makinen held on to win the San Remo Rally - the first time he has won the event. The Finn now moves to within two points of championship leader Spain's Carlos Sainz, who could only finish fourth. Italy's Piero Liatti came second and Scotland's Colin McRae kept his title hopes alive after finishing third in his Subaru to reach 42 points overall. The championship is set for an exhilarating finale with two races left - the Australian and Network Q rallies.

FINAL POSITIONS:            hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mit'bshi  4:34:34.5
 2 P Liatti    It  Subaru    4:34:50.3
 3 C McRae     GB  Subaru    4:36:04.7
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota    4:36:06.4
 5 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot   4:37:55.7
 6 B Thiry     Bel Ford      4:38:21.7
 7 R Burns     GB  Mit'bshi  4:39:15.8
 8 A Dal'villa It  Subaru    4:39:39.5
 9 A Aghini    It  Toyota    4:40:10.8
10 A Navarra   It  Subaru    4:40:28.6

1 C Sainz      Sp   Toyota      50 pts
2 T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi  48
3 C McRae      GB   Subaru      42
4 J Kankkunen  Fin  Ford        31
5 D Auriol     Fr   Toyota      30
6 R Burns      GB   Mitsubishi  23

1 Toyota         74 pts
2 Mitsubishi     71
3 Subaru         62
4 Ford           42

F.PALMER AUDI:- Justin Wilson was half a second ahead in testing for the Formula Palmer Audi Championship at Donington Park. His closest championship rival Darren Turner could only manage seventh best, although a second and a half covered the entire field.

15.10.98 - F1
Hungarian Grand prix organisers were fined $1m by the FIA following the track invasion by Ferrari fans after Michael Schumacher's win in August. The council said that 75 percent of the fine was suspended but would become payable if there was a similar incident at the Hungaroring within two years. China and Malaysia are poised to host Formula One races next season after a provisional calendar from the FIA. The 17-race programme is scheduled to begin in Australia and end in Japan.

Ferrari have invited Italian former 250cc motorcycle champion Max Biaggi to test drive a Formula One car. Biaggi will probably take up the offer at the end of this year, after the final races in the 500cc motorcycling championship and the F1 GP season.

F1:- David Coulthard set the pace in his McLaren Mercedes on the third and final day's testing at Barcelona after heavy fog had hampered the morning session. The Mild Seven Benetton Playlife team were focusing on set-up and a tyre programme for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Leading times (Fri):         mins secs
1 D Coulthard  GB  McLaren    1.20:459
2 M Hakkinen   Fin McLaren    1:20.782
3 G Fisichella It  Benetton   1:21.613
4 A Wurz       Aut Benetton   1:22.579
5 J Truli      It  Peugeot    1:23.916
6 O Panis      Fr  Peugeot    1:24.117
China is set to host its first ever Grand Prix next year to give the sport a big boost in Asia. China's Zhuhai international circuit and a new track near the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur are both on the provisional list of dates for 1999. Zhuhai circuit director Joe Lim said: "Formula One is already hugely popular in China. This is going to get unprecedented attention." The 2.68-mile cicrcuit has a 100,000 capacity and has staged GT races.

Stewart Grand Prix has announced that Neil Ressler of Ford is to join the Board as a non-executive director. Ressler, Vice-President of Advanced Technology, will strengthen the bond between the Ford Motor Company and the Stewart-Ford Formula One team. It is envisaged that he will play a significant role in the ongoing development of Stewart Grand Prix. "I am thrilled that Neil has accepted the board's invitation," said chairman Jackie Stewart.

Mar  7 Australia GP, Albert Park
Mar 21 China GP, Zhuhai
Apr 11 Brazilian GP, Interlagos
May  2 San Marino GP, Imola
May 16 Monaco GP, Monte Carlo
May 30 Spanish GP, Barcelona
Jun 13 Canadian GP, Montreal
Jun 27 French GP, Magny Cours
Jul 11 British GP, Silverstone
Jul 25 Austrian GP, Spielberg
Aug  1 German GP, Hockenheim
Aug 15 Hungarian GP, Budapest
Aug 29 Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps
Sep 12 Italian GP, Monza
Sep 26 European GP, Nurburgring
Oct 17 Malaysian GP, Kuala Lumpur
Oct 31 Japanese GP, Suzuka

CHAMP CARS:- Alex Zanardi smashed Nigel Mansell's five-year-old lap record as he qualified fastest for Sunday's race. The Italian cut over two seconds off Mansell's time when he lapped the Surfer's Paradise circuit in a time of one minute, 32.310 seconds. Scotland's Dario Franchitti was second fastest and hinted at following Zanardi into Formula One in the future. "My immediate goal is to win the IndyCar title but my long-term dream is to get into Formula One," he said.

Friday's leading practice times:mins secs
 1 A Zanardi    It  Reynard    1:32.310
 2 D Franchitti GB  Reynard    1:32.781
 3 G de Ferran  Brz Reynard    1:32.851
 4 B Herta      US  Reynard    1:33.189
 5 M Andretti   US  Swift      1:33.198
 6 S Pruett     US  Reynard    1:33.236
 7 P Tracy      Can Reynard    1:33.330
 8 M Papis      It  Reynard    1:33.375
12 M Blundell   GB  Reynard    1:33.820

F1:- Championship leader Mika Hakkinene says he is expecting to win the Japanese Grand Prix and become world champion. The Finn, who only needs to finish second to ensure the title is his, said: "If everything goes normally, I think I will win in Japan. "There is no point in speculating on second place. I will race as if we were level on points." He also expects a fair challenge from rival Michael Schumacher, adding: "I do not expect any tricks from him."

F.PALMER AUDI (Donington):- Justin Wilson clinched the inaugural title after two brilliant displays pulling away from the pack on pole. The championship was decided after the first race of the afternoon, round 15, when Wilson's closest rival Darren Turner, could only finish sixth. This meant that Wilson could not be overturned and went on to complete his eighth victory of the year. "It's not really sunk in yet," he said. Wilson now has a fully funded season in International F3000 next year.

Round 15 result:      mins secs
1 J Wilson    GB      13:30.284
2 R Tarling   GB      13:35.179
3 S White     Aus     13:35.854
4 S Hancock   GB      13:37.425
5 T Serjala   Fin     13:38.997
6 D Turner    GB      13:41.108

Round 16 result:
1 J Wilson    GB      13:32.862
2 P Clarke    GB      13:38.938
3 R Tarling   GB      13:39.850
4 S White     Aus     13:40.406
5 D Faulkner  Ire     13:48.530
6 T Serjala   Fin     13:48.920

Final Championship positions
(after 16 rounds)          pts
 1 J Wilson      GB        240
 2 D Turner      GB        210
 3 R Tarling     GB        206
 4 T Serjala     Fin       197
 5 P Clarke      GB        194
 6 D Faulkner    Ire       184
 7 S White       Aus       166
 8 F Maluhy      Brz       161
 9 J Keen        GB        139
10 J Moro        Brz       120

CHAMP CARS (Surfer's Paradise):- Scotland's Dario Franchitti had to settle for second place after Alex Zanardi won a 13th-lap pit road battle. Zanardi trailed pole winner Franchitti by less than a second when they and the top 13 cars pitted under a caution when Michel Jourdain Jr spun. The Italian came out of the pit stalls in first and wonthe shortened 62-lap race under a yellow flag in two hours, one minute and 51.170 seconds. Franchitti did move him up to second in the championship standings however.

Results of Sunday's race:  hrs min secs
 1 A Zanardi    It  Reynard 2:01:51.170
 2 D Franchitti GB  Reynard 2:01:51.492
 3 C Fittipaldi Brz Swift   2:01:52.199
 4 S Pruett     US  Reynard 2:01:07.558
 5 J Lehto      Fin Reynard 2:02:01.962
 6 A Fernandez  Mex Swift   2:02:02.323
 7 T Kanaan     Bra Reynard 2:02:02.850
 8 G Moore      Can Reynard 2:02:04.962
 9 P Carpentier Can Reynard 2:02:06.991
10 B Herta      US  Reynard 2:02:07.190
11 M Blundell   GB  Reynard

DRIVER STANDINGS:             Points
1 A Zanardi    It  Honda       271
2 D Franchitti GB  Honda       160
3 J Vasser     US  Honda       148
4 A Fernandez  Mex Ford        142
5 G Moore      Can Mercedes    124

EFDA:- Paul Edwards won the opening round of the 1998 EFDA Winterseries at Donington Park to become the first American to triumph in the Opel-powered series.

F1:- World Championship leader Mika Hakkinen was only fourth fastest in testing for the decisive Grand Prix at Silverstone on Monday. Hakkinen clocked a best time of one minute, 27.50 seconds to finish over a second behind his McLaren teammate David Coulthard. Damon Hill was second in his Jordan with Williams test driver Max Wilson third fastest. The title will be settled at the Japanese Grand Prix on November 1.

Benetton Formula One chief executive David Richards has resigned, the team announced on Monday. Richards, a former rally driver, joined the team in September 1997. Rocco Benetton takes his place.

RALLYING:- Alister McRae has secured an early release from his Volkswagen contract to enable him to drive for another team at next month's Rally of Great Britain. He will join forces with brother Colin for the first time in the Subaru team.

Driver ratings (October 19)      Points
 1 A Zanardi     It  Champ Car    1103
 2 M Schumacher  Ger Formula One  1099
 3 M Hakkinen    Fin Formula One  1085
 4 J Gordon      US  NASCAR       1011
 5 M Martin      US  NASCAR        868
 6 D Coulthard   GB  Formula One   805
 7 U Alzen       Ger GTCC          780
 8 J Montoya     Col F3000         761
 9 E Irvine      GB  Formula One   758
10 R Zonta       Brz FIA GT        742

TOURING CARS:- Vauxhall have signed Yvan Muller to drive a Vectra in the Auto Trader British Touring Cars Championship. The Frenchman has agreed to a three- year contract with Vauxhall and in 1999 will join twice BTCC champion John Cleland who remains for a 13th year. Muller made his debut in this year's BTCC with Audi an now aims to win the British title in only his second year. His 1999 contract with Vauxhall allows him permission to compete for Audi in Le Mans which he has entered before.

MINTEX RALLY SERIES:- Roger Duckworth has been confirmed as Mintex National Rally Champion prior to Saturday's final round in Wales. Duckworth holds an unassailable points lead ahed of the Bulldog Rally but his celebrations were on hold. He was awaiting the result of a protest against his failure to report at a time control during the fifth round. The RAC have now thrown out the appeal to give the Northamptonshire engineer and his co-driver Mark Broomfield their first national titles.

Leading positions after round 6
 1 R Duckworth Subaru Impreza  110pts
 2 M Harrison  MG Metro 6R4     95
 3 M Grierson  Subaru Impreza   91
 4 S Petch     Ford Escort      75
 5 G Smith     Ford Escort      75
 6 W Phil'kirk MG Metro 6R4     71
 7 V Wetton    Mitsubishi       66
 8 G Robinson  Ford Escort      64
 9 R Holfield  Mitsubishi       64
10 A Tough     Mitsubishi       60

22.10.98 - F1
Michael Schumacher is confident he will win the world title at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday week. "I sense that something is going to happen that will make us win the title," he said. "I can't explain where this premonition comes from." Schumacher trails Mika Hakkinen by four points in the championship standings but the Finn will win the title even if he finishes second behind Schumacher. They would be level on points and wins but Hakkinen has more second places.

F1:- Honda are likely to return to the sport in the year 2000, according to the president of the company. "Some see it as only risky and expensive but I believe our experience in racing is a basic reason for our success," said Hiroyuki Yoshino. Yoshino added although he would like them to make their comeback next year, 2000 was more likely. Honda bowed out of the sport in 1992 and started talking about a return earlier this year.

World champion Jacques Villeneuve gave a cautious thumbs-up to China's Zhuhai circuit after a test drive there. Villeneuve enjoyed three leisurely laps in a two-seater Renault Spider and said: "It's good, wide enough and has good braking zones. "However it lacks a few high-speed corners and in a way is a bit like the new Austrian track which has always given good races. "What I've seen is not going to help me much next year," he added.

F.FORD:- A host of aspiring Grand Prix drivers will be on show this weekend. Among them is Formula Ford Championship runner-up Derek Hayes who said: "It will be very tough. Not only do we have top Britons but many from abroad." Ford winner Jenson Button is also in action, plus four-time winner Daniel Wheldon and local hero Tom Sisley. The European-based Formula Ford contingent is much in evidence, with French champion Jean-Christophe Ravier among the notable entrants.

WINTER FORD FIESTA CHAMPIONSHIP:- Established stars and rising newcomers head the entry for the inaugural BRSCC event at Brands Hatch this weekend. The five-race series goes to Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Snetterton and is the first time the 1.4-litre Fiesta Zetec cars have raced in winter. "The racing should be close," said Colin Stancombe, a perennial racer. Competition is certain to be keenly contested, as the first prize is free race entry to the 1999 Ford Credit Fiesta Championship.

F1:- Mika Hakkinen does not think his title rival Michael Schumacher will risk another trip into the gravel in the last race of the season. Schumacher had to retire last season after a controversial collision with Jacques Villeneuve, who won the title. "I hope we will have a fair fight on the track, which is what everyone wants to see," said Hakkinen. "It would be a big risk if he tried anything because if we both retired I would have the most points."

EFDA WINTERSERIES (Hockenheim):- Britain's Darren Malkin earned his first win of the season in the European Formula Drivers Association series. Malkin, starting on pole, made a superb start and quickly moved into an unassailable lead. American Paul Edwards was second to take an eight-point lead in the standings with one race left. Malkin said: "I'm really pleased to finally win a race this year and it makes up for losing last week. I'm in a good position to win the series."

Daniel Wheldon has joined Paul Stewart Racing for the final round of the EFDA Winterseries in two weeks time. Wheldon, who finished third in the Formula Ford Championship, joins the team fresh from competing in the Formula Ford World Finals. "This will give me some real experience of driving wings and slick as I've only driven an Opel once before," he said. Team manager Andy Pycock said: "Daniel has proved he has the aptitude and skill to progress into Opel."

F.FORD FESTIVAL (Brands Hatch):-
Heat one result:            mins secs
1 D Hayes     Ire  Mygale   13:59.951
2 N Stelandre Bel  V Diemen 14:09.228
3 M Taylor    GB   Mygalo   14:09.480
4 P Walsh     Ire  Swift    14:15.444
5 J Wright    Ire  Vector   14:17.753
6 M Marchant  GB   Jamun    14:25.336

Heat two result:
1 D Wheldon   GB   V Diemen 14:11.548
2 W Lechner   Aut  Mygale   14:25.309
3 A Gheza     Fr   Mygale   14:29.355
4 A Charsley  GB   Ray 97   14:49.939
5 W Van Lent  Hol  Mygale   14:57.362
6 R Meichtry  Swi  Swift    14:58.430

Heat three result:          mins secs
1 J Button    GB   Mygale    8:57.854
2 M Ambrose   Aus  V Diemen  9:02.940
3 N Kiesa     Den  V Diemen  9:03.803
4 J Bl'kmolen Hol  Swift     9:07.157
5 J Fourie    SA   V Diemen  9:09.543
6 J Svensson  Bel  Mygale    9:13.161

Heat four result:
1 R Collard   GB   V Diemen  8:58.279
2 N Shanahan  Ire  V Diemen  9:02.517
3 T Bernhard  Ger  Swift     9:06.053
4 B Horne     GB   V Diemen  9:07.194
5 J Carlsen   Den  Vector    9:07.529
6 P Meireles  Por  Mygale    9:09.641

WINTER FORD FIESTA CH'SHP (Brands Hatch):- Colin Stancombe will start Sunday's opening round on pole position, despite a spirited display by Maclain Engledew. Stancombe was just four 100ths of a second ahead of his rival, while Ian Churchill was third quickest in the qualifying session.

Qualifying times (Sat):   min secs
1 C Stancombe             1:02.438
2 M Engledew              1:02.484
3 I Churchill             1:02.546
4 M Cullen                1:02.866
5 M Tegerdine             1:03.014
6 A Keith                 1:03.332

MINTEX NATIONAL SERIES:- Alister McRae beat the weather and his rivals to win the Bulldog Rally for the first time. McRae - who was making his debut in the Subaru Impreza in which he will contest November's RAC Rally - emulated brother Colin, who won the race in 1992. Alister was quickest on all of the eight stages, with stage nine cancelled when the River Severn burst its banks. Murray Grierson was second to clinch the runner-up spot in the Mintex Championship, pipping Martyn Harrison.

Final result after eight stages:hr min sec
 1 McRae/Senior   Subaru Imp  1:22.07
 2 Grierson/Roy   Subaru Imp  1:28.11
 3 Dodd/Bennie    Ford Escort 1:29.18
 4 D'worth/B'fld  Subaru Imp  1:29.20
 5 Easson/Cook    Mitsubishi  1:30.00
 6 Perrott/Morris Mitsubishi  1:30.41
 7 Jones/Lewis    Subaru Imp  1:31.27
 8 Lyall/Harris   Subaru Imp  1:31.34
 9 W'wick/M'lneux Ford Sierra 1:31.48
10 Hill/Rabbett   Mitsubishi  1:32.19
Ninth stage cancelled

F.FORD FESTIVAL (Brands Hatch):- Jenson Button secured the most important prize in junior motor racing by winning the Festival. The 18-year-old British title-winner from Somerset took the lead on the penultimate lap after brushing wheels with Marcos Ambrose. Daniel Wheldon finished in second place and Nicolas Kiesa was third. Barry Horne underlined his growing potential in fourth position, while Mark Taylor was sixth on his Formula Ford debut.

Semi-final one result (Sun):mins secs
1 M Ambrose   Aus  V Diemen 12:27.648
2 J Button    GB   Mygale   12:30.867
3 J-C Ravier  Fr   V Diemen 12:36.569
4 N Stelandre Bel  V Diemen 12:36.617
5 N Kiesa     Den  V Diemen 12:36.755
6 M Taylor    GB   Mygale   12:36.992

Semi-final two result (Sun):
1 D Wheldon   GB   V Diemen 12:42.271
2 B Horne     GB   V Diemen 12:43.860
3 R Collard   GB   V Diemen 12:44.064
4 A Charsley  GB   Ray-Ford 12:50.860
5 W L'cner Jr Aut  Mygale   12:51.509
6 M McKenna   Ire  Mygale   12:55.201

Final result (Sun):          mins secs
 1 J Button    GB   Mygale   15:36.547
 2 D Wheldon   GB   V Diemen 15:36.700
 3 N Kiesa     Den  V Diemen 15:37.466
 4 B Horne     GB   V Diemen 15:43.211
 5 W L'cner Jr Aut  Mygale   15:43.270
 6 M Taylor    GB   Mygale   15:45.186
 7 J B'ekmolen Hol  Swift    15:45.778
 8 M McKenna   Ire  Mygale   15:47.029
 9 J Svensson  Bel  Mygale   15:47.047
10 G Breuer    Fr   V Diemen 15:51.573

WINTER FORD FIESTA CH'SHP (Brands Hatch):- Michael Cullen secured a hard-fought victory after battling his way from second on the grid. "I am pleased the others got tangled up in their own battle," he said. "I was in the right place at the right time."

Round one result (Sun):   mins secs
1 M Cullen                11:32.782
2 M Engledew              11:33.217
3 C Stancombe             11:33.927
4 I Churchill             11:34.105
5 G Howell                11:38.585
6 A McKever               11:39.018

Mika Hakkinen has hinted that he may settle for second place in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. The Finn leads Michael Schumacher by four points but even if the German wins, second place would be enough to give Hakkinen the drivers' title. "Of course I want to win and take the title that way but I know I could do it by finishing second," he said "To be honest, I have not made up my mind 100 per cent if I will try to win outright or not."

Mika Hakkinen has been given a boost in his bid to secure his first world title on Sunday. McLaren are obviously geared up for Sunday's race and tyre suppliers Bridgestone have also promised the Finn maximum effort on their home track. Bridgestone's Hirohide Hamashima said: "We are determined to give Mika every chance of repeating his memorable win at the Nurburgring. "With so much at stake on home soil, this is a nerve-tingling race for us."

Championship leader Mika Hakkinen has insisted he will be treating Sunday's title decider just like any other race. The McLaren driver must defend a four- point lead over rival Michael Schumacher but said: "I am not nervous at all. I do not think we need magic. I do not think we need luck. I do not want to think about the pressure situation. It does not matter if I am leading the race or running second. It just does not matter."

Barring a total disaster, McLaren look set to clinch their eighth constructors' crown. They are 15 points ahead of Ferrari and the Italian outfit would require a one- two finish and a no-points effort from McLaren to steal in. Mika Hakkinen is quietly confident of making it a double celebration by giving McLaren a 10th drivers' title. "We will be prepared in the best possible way and our victory in Germany has given us the advantage," he said.

Michael Schumacher has revealed that he has "the feeling" he will return from Suzuka as world champion. After completing tests on his Ferrari at Fiorano before the cars were shipped overseas, the German spoke to an Italian newspaper. He said: "It is difficult to explain why but I have the feeling I am going to win and that I will come back as world champion." If Schumacher does take the title it will be his third world crown.

Ferrari's team director Jean Todt has admitted that he was surprised by Mika Hakkinen and the McLaren team at the last grand prix at the Nurburgring. Hakkinen won the race to regain the lead in the standings. Todt said: "I am not a man to use too many superlatives but it was a superb race by Hakkinen, one of the best of his career, probably his best ever. He surprised me and the team. We were all surprised by the McLaren team. It will be a very tight and tough finish."

McLaren will be seen as favourites for Sunday's race by some observers because of their use of Bridgestone tyres. The Japanese company have used Suzuka for years as a test and development circuit, so have home advantage and local knowledge on their side. Ferrari use Goodyear tyres and rainfall would switch the odds towards wet-weather king Michael Schumacher. Jordan chief Eddie Jordan said: "If it rains I would put money on Schumacher - and by that I mean Michael or Ralf."

Mika Hakkinen will become world champion even if he finishes second behind Michael Schumacher and both men finish on 96 points. The pair would then both have won seven grands prix but the Finn would beat the German 3-2 in second-place finishes. Hakkinen won the first two races of the season before Schumacher triumphed in the third grand prix in Argentina. Schumacher was second in San Marino and at the Nurburgring, while Hakkinen was runner-up in Argentina and Britain.

Eddie Irvine is aiming to give Ferrari another one-two on Sunday. Irvine was second behind team-mate Michael Schumacher in the team's home grand prix in Monza this season to send the Tifosi into raptures. The Ulsterman told Turin newspaper Tuttosport he hoped to be runner-up in Japan to deprive Schumacher's title rival Mika Hakkinen of points. "We have done the best possible work to prepare the best possible cars," added 32-year-old Irvine.

            McLAREN        FERRARI
1st GP win: 1968 Belgium   1951 Britain
Driver      Nine - 1974,   Nine - 1952,
Ch'ships:   1976, 1984,    1953, 1956,
            1985, 1986,    1958, 1961,
            1988, 1989,    1964, 1975,
            1990, 1991.    1977, 1979.
Constructor Seven - 1974,  Eight - 1961
Ch'ships:   1984, 1985,    1964, 1975,
            1988, 1989,    1976, 1977,
            1990, 1991.    1979, 1982,
Victories:  115            119

Born:        Helsinki,     Kerpen,
             Finland       Germany
             28/9/68       3/1/69
1st GP win:  1997 Jerez    1992 Belgium
Victories:   Eight         33
Pole starts: 10            19
GP starts:   111           117
World        None          Two - 1994,
Ch'ships:                  1995
Ferrari and McLaren will be battling for the drivers' crown but there is a three-way fight for third spot in the constructors' standings. Williams are currently third with 35 points but Benetton (33) and Jordan (31) both believe they are still in with a strong chance. In 1997, Williams secured the driver and constructor titles but have not won a race this year. Benetton are also without a victory but Jordan's Damon Hill won in Spa.

Jordan believe they can finish third in the Constructors' Championship. Managing director Eddie Jordan said: "The same number of points lie between us and Williams as do between Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher. People believe Schumacher is still in with a chance and we think we are too. We cannot lose really. Fifth place is secure and we have proved ourselves by winning our first race. Ending the season higher than fifth would be the icing on the cake."

Damon Hill is aiming to end his first season at Jordan on a high. Hill, who gave the team their first win this year at Spa, said: "I believe we will be competitive in Japan and should go there with the aim of winning. "The circuit requires a good deal of commitment and knowledge, which puts both Ralf and me in a strong position. It is a little like Spa - a long lap with difficult corners. The only real chances to overtake are the last corner and into the hairpin at turn six."

The five-week break between the final two races of the season has given Jordan the chance to test improvements to their cars. Joint managing director Trevor Foster said: "In the usual two-week gap there is no time to test components, which has implications for reliability. "We have made suspension and aerodynamic modifications. In addition, Mugen-Honda have pushed hard to produce more horsepower for its home grand prix."

Sunday will herald Ralf Schumacher's last race with Jordan. The German is leaving the Silverstone- based outfit to join Williams but he admitted: "I hope to get a good result in my last race for the team." Schumacher knows Suzuka well from his days racing in Formula Nippon and added: "I have had a very happy two years with Jordan. They have given me a great start to my F1 career and I would like to leave on a high note."

Suzuka has not been a lucky circuit for outgoing champion Jacques Villeneuve but he is still looking forward to the 1998 finale. He was beaten to the title by Damon Hill in Japan in 1996 and last year he lost his fifth-place points because of a flag offence in qualifying. "This is a track where I perform my best and where I work best with my engineer," he said. "There is a lot of tension on the track because the risk is very high."

Sunday's race marks the end of an era for Tyrrell. The famous British team, founded by Ken Tyrrell 30 years ago, will be contesting their 451st grand prix but it will also be their last. They were bought out by British American Racing last November and will be fully absorbed into the new team at the end of this campaign. Tyrrell have won 33 races, three driver World Championships - with Jackie Stewart - and one constructors' crown.

Tyrrell's David Brown says the team will be focusing on the Japanese event like any other race, even though it is their swansong in the sport. Brown, who is Toranosuke Takagi's race engineer said: "It may be the final event for Tyrrell but we still want the cars to be as competitive as possible. "The task is made easier in this instance because Suzuka is one of the best circuits we visit. It is on a par, for instance, with Spa in Belgium."

Toranosuke Takagi is hoping his local knowledge will pay off in Japan. The Tyrrell driver knows Suzuka well as a result of his experience in All-Japan Formula Three and Formula 3000 as well as Formula Nippon. His race engineer David Brown, who has also worked in All-Japan Formula 3000, confirmed: "Tora definitely knows how to go fast around Suzuka. The main thing for his first home grand prix though is not to let the pressure get to him."

Jos Verstappen competes in his last race for Stewart on Sunday and wants to go out on a high. He is being replaced by Briton Johnny Herbert next season. Verstappen said: "I would like a good finish at Suzuka. I like the uniqueness of the circuit. It is challenging from a driver's point of view. We have made some excellent progress with the car since the Nurburgring. I am optimistic that we will end the year with a good performance."

Stewart's Rubens Barrichello is raring to go after the five-week break from Formula One action. "The long break since the Nurburgring has done me good," he said. "I feel fit and refreshed after spending time with my family back in Brazil. I have been working hard on my physical conditioning between testing. I am encouraged by the testing we have done since the Luxembourg Grand Prix. We have found some big improvements in the car's handling."

Sunday's race is scheduled to last for 53 laps. Suzuka staged its first World Championship race in 1987. Gerhard Berger triumphed in the event, while driving for Ferrari. Japan held its first grand prix at Fuji Speedway in 1976. Mario Andretti won the race and James Hunt's third place gave him the world title. Britain's Hunt won the 1977 race and then there was a 10-year break before Suzuka took over.

1997 result:
1 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari
2 H-H Frentzen Ger Williams
3 E Irvine     GB  Ferrari
4 M Hakkinen   Fin McLaren
5 J Alesi      Fr  Benetton
6 J Herbert    GB  Sauber
Fastest race lap: H-H Frentzen 1:38.942 (record)

Previous winners:
1997 M Schumacher Ger Ferrari
1996 D Hill       GB  Williams
1995 M Schumacher Ger Benetton
1994 D Hill       GB  Williams
1993 A Senna      Brz McLaren
1992 R Patrese    It  Williams
1991 G Berger     Aut McLaren
1990 N Piquet     Brz Benetton

Driver ratings (October 26)      Points
 1 A Zanardi     It  Champ Car    1103
 2 M Schumacher  Ger Formula One  1099
 3 M Hakkinen    Fin Formula One  1085
 4 J Gordon      US  NASCAR       1017
 5 M Martin      US  NASCAR        863
 6 U Alzen       Ger GTCC          805
 7 D Coulthard   GB  Formula One   805
 8 R Zonta       Brz FIA GT        773
 = K Ludwig      Ger FIA GT        773
10 JP Montoya    Col F3000         761

BARBER DODGE PRO-SERIES:- American Todd Snyder won the Barber Dodge pro-series race at Laguna Seca Raceway ahead of compatriot Jeff Simmons and Brazillian Nilton Rossini.

RALLYING:- Proton Cars Motorsport team are using their pre-Network Q Rally test session on Sunday in Wales with a charity event. The team have invited 50 people to experience being driven around a gravel special stage.

FIA GT's (Laguna Seca):- Germany's Klaus Ludwig has confirmed that he is retiring after a 28-year motor racing career. Ludwig, who clinched the sportscar title in California, said: "I decided that I did not want to be racing at 50- years-old. "Mercedes asked me to continue but it is time to stop." Ricardo Zonta and Ludwig clinched their fifth win of the year at Laguna Seca, while Mercedes finished the campaign with 10 wins out of 10.

Race result after 189 laps:              hr min sec
1 K Ludwig/R Zonta       Ger/Brz  Mercedes 3:09.08
2 B Schneider/M Webber   Ger/Aus  Mercedes    @.10
3 U Alzen/J Mueller      Ger      Porsche  138 laps

1  Ludwig/Zonta         77 pts
3  Schneider/Webber     69
5  McNish/Dalmas        27

F1:- Scot David Coulthard believes his McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen will be crowned world champion this weekend. Coulthard said: "I don't think anyone can question he deserves the title. He has made very few mistakes this year. "You could argue that Ferrari deserve the constructors' championship, because of our reliability, but not the drivers' title." Finn Hakkinen leads Michael Schumacher by four points, meaning the McLaren man needs to finish second for the title.

British American Racing have signed Brazil's Ricardo Zonta to drive for their new Formula One team. Zonta, 22, who won the FIA Formula 3000 International series in 1997 and the 1998 FIA Grand Touring Car Championship, joins Jacques Villeneuve. "I am thrilled to be driving alongside such a successful and experienced driver from whom I am certain I will learn a great deal," Zonta said. Zonta is expected to join the team for testing in September.

F.PALMER AUDI:- Derek Hayes led the way on the first day of Formula Palmer Audi winter series testing at Brands Hatch. He clocked a fastest lap time of 49.823 seconds with Gary Paffett second in 50.014 and Andy Priaulx third with a time of 50.162.

F1:- Eddie Jordan believes Michael Schumacher's World Championship dream could be scuppered on Sunday - by his younger brother Ralf. Jordan is confident that Schumacher junior can mark his last race for the Silverstone-based outfit before his move to Williams with victory at Suzuka But that would almost certainly wreck the title hopes of Schumacher senior. The Ferrari driver really needs to win and hope Hakkinen finishes lower than second spot.

Mika Hakkinen believes Sunday's season finale will be a clean race. "I believe it will be a completely fair fight this time," he said. "That's what everybody wants and everyone in the world will be watching. Michael cannot take any risks. He has to finish the race because if we both retired I'd still have more points than him and win. I have never done the dirty on the track and never will and I am not worried about it with Michael."

Damon Hill feels Michael Schumacher will fail in his bid to beat Mika Hakkinen to the title on Sunday. "It is going to be a tall order for Michael to beat Mika and they both know it," said Hill. "He could not have picked a worse circuit than Suzuka because it is a track Mika loves which is why my money is on him to end the year as champion. Suzuka appeals to Hakkinen's macho streak as it is a 'big boys' circuit and he is rarely short of courage."

AUSTRALIAN RALLY:- Flying Finn Tommi Makinen believes he can win his third consecutive race of the season to boost his hopes of a third successive world title. Makinen said: "At the moment we're in excellent situation. The car works very well and I feel very confident." Meanwhile, teammate Richard Burns has high hopes for next week's Aussie race. Burns revealed: "I'm really looking forward to Australia, becaues I've always gone really well there. Last year I led on the first day."

F1:- Michael Schumacher has 'an inner be ief' that he can beat Mika Hakkinen to the world championship on Sunday. The German needs to win with his rival failing to finish second to be sure of adding to his 1994 and 1995 crowns. Schumacher said: "I cannot explain it or why I have it, but I have a strong feeling inside me that I can do it." Rival Hakkinen revealed: "I have a four point advantage and I would rather have that than not have it. I don't know how I will approach the race."

Ferrari's team director Jean Todt has admitted that he was surprised by Mika Hakkinen and the McLaren team at the last grand prix at the Nurburgring. Hakkinen won the race to regain the lead in the standings. Todt said: "I am not a man to use too many superlatives but it was a superb race by Hakkinen, one of the best of his career, probably his best ever. He surprised me and the team. We were all surprised by the McLaren team. It will be a very tight and tough finish."

WINTER F.FORD:- Sunday's opening round of the series should see several newcomers hoping to upset the formbook. Peter Gray, Tom Potter, Jeffrey Jones, Franck Diefenbacher and Nicolas Kiesa could all impress at Snetterton. Kent's Tom Sisley will be Kiesa's main rival. The pair were teammates at ADR Motorsport this season and proved quick in their first year in Formula Ford. Mark Taylor, one of the finds of last weekend's Formula Ford Festival, could be a good bet to win the race.

WINTER FORD FIESTA'S:- Welwyn Garden City's Maclain Engledew heads a closely-matched Ford Fiesta entry as he bids to claim his first race win in the category. The former rally driver, who finished second in the opening round at Brands Hatch, will have to fend off Colin Stancombe and Ian Churchill. "It was a good result for us at Brands Hatch," said Engledew. "Now I need to get my first win." Gordon Sheddan leads the Scottish challenge in the race.

F.CAMPUS:- British teenagers Adam Carroll and Adam Jones have won a place at the world's only motor sport university at Le Mans. They will both compete in the 1999 Renault Campus series while attending a one-year academic course to produce the next generation of racing drivers.

F.RENAULT:- Sunday's Formula Renault Sport Winter Championship has attracted Brands Hatch's only full grid of 28 cars. Antonio Pizzonia, Rob Austin, Chris Clark, Gavin McFayden and Daniel Barrett are among the field.

Michael Schumacher struck the first blow in the run-up to Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. The German was fastest after the free practice sessions and his Ferrari team- mate Eddie Irvine was also ahead of McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. Hakkinen, who leads Schumacher by four points, was fifth quickest, just behind Ulsterman Irvine. David Coulthard was sixth quickest, Damon Hill seventh and Johnny Herbert was 18th fastest.

Mika Hakkinen has issued a warning to title rival Michael Schumacher, despite seeing the German top the standings after the opening practice sessions. Hakkinen was only fifth quickest but he insisted: "I was a routine practice session today. "We were concentrating on balance for the race. The car ran reliably, it was strong and we completed a good number of laps. I am pleased." Schumacher added: "I do not think today's result shows the whole truth."

Jordan were delighted after the practice sessions. Ralf Schumacher was second fastest ahead of his final grand prix for the team, while Damon Hill was seventh. However, Schumacher admitted: "Second place looks really good but I think it is unrealistic to think we can hold on to it in qualifying." Hill added: "Things went pretty well. Work concentrated on tyre choice. I think the times showed we have a good chance to qualify strongly."

Honda have confirmed that they plan to return to Formula One but denied it would re-enter the sport by 2000 in partnership with Jordan. Spokesman for the Japanese company Hideo Sato said: "We have yet to come up with final and detailed plans. "I understand Honda have not had any any negotiations related to such a partnership scheme with Jordan or any other Formula One team." A report had suggested Honda wanted a partnership to aid development costs.

Friday's free practice times:
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:39.823
 2 R Schumacher  Ger Jordan   1:40.336
 3 H-H Frentzen  Ger Williams 1:40.389
 4 E Irvine      GB  Ferrari  1:40.615
 5 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:40.644
 6 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:40.845
 7 D Hill        GB  Jordan   1:41.098
 8 J Villeneuve  Can Williams 1:41.252
 9 J Verstappen  Hol Stewart  1:42.191
10 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:42.224
11 A Wurz        Aut Benetton 1:42.628
12 T Takagi      Jpn Tyrrell  1:42.628
13 J Trulli      It  Prost    1:43.121
14 O Panis       Fr  Prost    1:43.493
15 M Salo        Fin Arrows   1:43.634
16 J Alesi       Fr  Sauber   1:43.788
17 R Barrichello Brz Stewart  1:43.854
18 J Herbert     GB  Sauber   1:43.894
19 P Diniz       Brz Arrows   1:44.468
20 S Nakano      Jpn Minardi  1:44.632
21 R Rosset      Brz Tyrrell  1:45.054
22 E Tuero       Arg Minardi  1:46.396

RALLYING:- Ex-British rally champion Mark Higgins will bid to regain the title next year after signing for Volkswagen. The 27-year-old has left Nissan and will replace Alister McRae. Higgins powered to the Mobil 1 British Championship title last year but has had a lean time this year after raising his sights to world level. He will compete in four rounds of next year's World Championship but he said: "I am really looking forward to getting back to the British Championship."

Michael Schumacher pipped Mika Hakkinen to claim a hat-trick of pole positions but the McLaren star will be content with the second fastest time at Suzuka. The pressure is all on Schumacher going into the final grand prix and he badly needs Hakkinen to slip up in Japan. Schumacher wanted Ferrari teammate Eddie Irvine to help give him breathing space but he could only finish fourth fastest behind David Coulthard. Sunday's grid positions seem to favour McLaren if a tactical duel transpires.

Michael Schumacher was cautiously optimistic after getting pole position ahead of Mika Hakkinen at Suzuka. He said: "I am delighted to get pole but this is only qualifying. The race is the most important thing so I cannot get too excited. But I did feel very confident out there. The car was performing really well, incredibly really. We have worked very hard since the last race and that began to pay-off today."

Former world champ Michael Schumacher shrugged off the disappointment of seeing teammate Eddie Irvine only finish fourth fastest in qualifying. Ferrari need Irvine to aid Schumacher's cause on Sunday and they were looking to get him better placed at the start. Schumacher said: "I am not too worried about Eddie's position. "We wanted him on the first or second row. As long as he is there or thereabouts it's good. He had a bit of a problem with his car today."

Title leader Mika Hakkinen was happy with his day's work after joining Michael Schumacher on the front row. The pair finished more than a second clear of third-placed David Coulthard and Hakkinen feels that augurs well. He said: "I'd have preferred to be on pole but I don't think it gives me any difficulties or puts more pressure on. I'm surprised at the big gap and I don't know the reason for it but if Michael and I do pull away in the race then that will be good for me."

Saturday's final qualifying times:
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:36.293
 2 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:36.471
 3 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:37.496
 4 E Irvine      GB  Ferrari  1:38.197
 5 H-H Frentzen  Ger Williams 1:38.272
 6 J Villeneuve  Can Williams 1:38.448
 7 R Schumacher  Ger Jordan   1:38.461
 8 D Hill        GB  Jordan   1:38.603
 9 A Wurz        Aut Benetton 1:38.959
10 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:39.080
11 J Herbert     GB  Sauber   1:39.234
12 J Alesi       Fr  Sauber   1:39.448
13 O Panis       Fr  Prost    1:40.037
14 J Trulli      It  Prost    1:40.111
15 M Salo        Fin Arrows   1:40.387
16 R Barrichello Brz Stewart  1:40.502
17 T Takagi      Jpn Tyrrell  1:40.619
18 P Diniz       Brz Arrows   1:40.687
19 J Verstappen  Hol Stewart  1:40.943
20 S Nakano      Jpn Minardi  1:41.315
21 E Tuero       Arg Minardi  1:42.358
Failed to qualify:
22 R Rosset      Brz Tyrrell  1:43.259

CHAMP CARS (Fontana):-
Friday's leading practice times:mins secs
 1 A Fernandez  Mex Reynard    0:30.877
 2 M Andretti   US  Swift      0:31.026
 3 G Moore      Can Reynard    0:31.089
 4 M Gugelmin   Brz Reynard    0:31.105
 5 J Vasser     US  Reynard    0:31.218
 6 M Blundell   GB  Reynard    0:31.187
 7 P Tracy      Can Reynard    0:31.189
 8 A Zanardi    It  Reynard    0:31.218
13 D Franchitti GB  Reynard    0:31.314