February 1999 Motorsport News

01.02.99 - F1
Damon Hill looked ahead to the new season as he helped launch Jordan's new car in London. He said: "We want to win more races than we did last year. We want to challenge and harry and always be a threat to whoever might be on top. "We have to be realistic but we are also very optimistic for this car. From what the team have been saying I am very encouraged for the season." Boss Eddie Jordan said: "We know this car is an improvement on last year."

Ford have failed in their bid to get their suspension from the Monte Carlo Rally overturned. Colin McRae's team were thrown out of the opening 1999 rally before it began because of rule problems concerning water pumps on the new Ford Focus. McRae raced under appeal and was third but the appeals committee of the sport's ruling body, the FIA, confirmed that the suspension will stand. Ford are aiming to modify the water pump in time for the Swedish Rally.

Revised result:
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi
 2 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru
 3 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota
 4 F Delecour  Fr  Ford Escort
 5 B Thiry     Bel Subaru
 6 P Liatti    Fin SEAT
 7 H Rovanpera Fin SEAT
 8 R Burns     GB  Subaru
 9 H Lundgaard Den Toyota
10 M Duez      Bel Mitsubishi

DRIVER STANDINGS               Pts
1 T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi  10
2 J Kankkunen  Fin  Subaru       6
3 D Auriol     Fr   Toyota       4
4 F Delecour   Fr   Ford Escort  3
5 B Thiry      Bel  Subaru       2
6 P Liatti     It   SEAT         1

1 Mitsubishi     10 pts
2 Subaru          7
3 SEAT            5
4 Toyota          4

F1:- British American Racing have lost out in their bid to race two cars with different liveries this season. The International Chamber of Commerce of Paris, who arbitrate on commercial disputes between the FIA and their teas, rejected the appeal. Formula One's newest team unveiled their cars two months ago ` one red, white and black, while the other was blue and yellow. BAR had said they were fighting for their commercial rights.

WYEDEAN FOREST RALLY:- SEAT driver Gwyndaf Evans will test his Ibiza kit car in Saturday's opening round of the BTRDA National Rally Championship in the Forest of Dean. He will lead the cars away as he continues the development of a car that has tasted success in the two-litre World Rally Championship. Justin Dale will also be looking for some practice in his factory-entered Peugeot 106 Maxi. The event is a qualifying round for six different championships.

Tim Ellis-Jones and co-driver Mark Lewis will be building up to the forthcoming Mintex Rally Championship by taking part in Saturday's event. The duo spent 1998 building and testing a new Escort world rally car, based on a Cosworth. Ellis-Jones said: "I am really looking forward to doing a full season again." Meanwhile, Chester's Paul Griffiths will be contesting the BTRDA series but will also enter three rounds of the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship.

F3000:- Italian Formula 3000 team Durango have confirmed they are entering the UK 3000 Championship this season. They will take part in the British event as well as the FIA European F3000 Championship and the drivers will be announced in the next couple of weeks. Nicolas Minassian will test the new Kid Jensen Racing Formula 3000 car at Donington Park next Thursday. The team want to check out the car before the first official Formula 3000 test in Barcelona on February 25-26.

F.VAUXHALL:- Formula Vauxhall have 15 drivers who are confirmed starters for the forthcoming campaign. Karter Stefan Hodgetts, 16-year-old son of double British touring car champion Chris, has joined the series. American kart star Danica Patrick will also be out to impress.

F3:- Toby Scheckter, son of ex-Formula One champion Jody, has signed a deal with SpeedSport F3 Racing for the 1999 British Formula Three Championship.

04.02.99 - F1
Marc Gene will become the first Spaniard in Formula One since 1989 after securing a deal with Minardi. The move has been made possible because the team have signed a sponsorship deal with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, reportedly worth $7m. Gene was the 1993 Formula Ford runner- up and moved to F3000 before winning the Formula Nissan crown last year. He has been joined at Minardi by Argentine Gaston Mazzacane, who has been in F3000 since 1996.

German Ralf Schumacher and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella topped their two respective testing sessions in preparation for the new season. Schumacher pipped Williams teammate Alex Zanardi by four hundredths of a second at Magny-Cours. Meanwhile, at Silverstone, Fisichella upstaged the Jordan duo of Damon Hill and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Hill was testing the Jordan Mugen-Honda 1999 car with Frentzen behind the wheel of the 1998 Jordan.

05.02.99 - F1
British American Racing must face the FIA to answer allegations that they have breached the sport's regulations. It comes two days after Formula One's newest team lost an appeal to run two cars with different liveries during the 1999 season. They wanted to promote different brands of owners British American Tobacco. In the opening race in Australia next month, BAR are thought to be considering having different branding on either side of the cars.

F1:- Michael Schumacher lost the tail wing of his Ferrari when he span 360 degrees after two laps of practice in Italy.

WYEDEAN FOREST RALLY:- Brian Bell emerged as surprise winner after Andy Burton elected not to hand in his final timecard. Bell arrived back at the Chepstow Racecourse finish two seconds ahead of former British champion Gwyndaf Evans. Evans, using the rally for some testing and was using traction control for the first time, won the two-wheel drive category ahead of Nik Elsmore. Welsh National champion Glyn Jones went off the road and Mark Lawn's Mitsubishi caught fire.

Result after 9 stages:    mins secs
 1 B Bell        Ford         44.41
 2 G Evans       Seat         44.43
 3 I Joel        Ford         44.49
 4 M Perrott     Mitsubishi   45.17
 5 N Elsmore     Nissan       45.19
 6 J Carty       Metro        45.28
 7 T Bengry      Mitsubishi   45.29
 8 S Gardener    Mitsubishi   45.43
 9 J Thompson    Ford         45.45
10 G Robinson    Ford         46.02

FORMULA PALMER AUDI:- After a disappointing 1998 season in Formula Three, Adam Wilcox will compete in Formula Palmer Audi this year. The 22-year-old will start FPA as title favourite having won eight karting championships and having also competed in Formula Renault and Formula Opel.

F1:- Niki Lauda thinks that today's Formula One drivers have an easier time than when he was in the cockpit. The former world champion was speaking after he had made a return in a racing car after 14 years out of the sport. After trying out McLaren's two-seater car in Barcelona, he said: "I did not expect it to be that easy. I have the same respect for today's drivers because they still have to go quick to win a title but less respect because the car is simpler to drive."

SWEDISH RALLY:- Mitsubishi Motors are targeting a record-breaking sixth straight world rally victory from Friday to Sunday. The Rugby-based team have built up an unbeaten run stretching back to August and they have won in Sweden three times in the last four years. Temperatures could pose the biggest problems as they can drop to 30 degrees below zero. Teams use special tyres that are fitted with hundreds of metal studs because of the hazardous snow and ice.

World champion Tommi Makinen has won the Swedish Rally twice and will be gunning for a repeat when the event begins on Friday. Makinen, who triumphed in round one of the World Championship in Monte Carlo last month, is favourite for the only true snow rally of the campaign. "I enjoy this rally and these kind of road conditions," he revealed. "And of course, as a Finn it is important for me to beat all the Swedes in the event."

Colin McRae's season begins in earnest in Karlstad. The Scot finished third in this year's opening round of the World Championship but he was racing under appeal and his four points were eventually docked. His efforts were declared void because of regulation concerns over the water pump system in the Ford Focus cars. Despite that disappointment, the former Subaru driver was impressed with the car and is keen to make an impression now Ford have ironed out the problems.

The Swedish Rally is the only round of the FIA World Championship that has never been won by a non-Nordic driver but Colin McRae wants to end that run. "Nordic drivers have dominated this event but there is no real reason why," he exclaimed. "I have been close to winning a couple of times and it is far less specialised than the Rally Finland." McRae feels he has a chance because of the impressive debut by the new Ford Focus in Monte Carlo last month.

Britain's Richard Burns will be taking part in the event for the second time. Burns, who now drives for Subaru, was 15th last year while driving for the Mitsubishi team. His team-mate Juha Kankkunen won in Sweden in 1986 and after an impressive second place-finish in Monte Carlo will be fired up for the event. The rally begins in Karlstad on Friday and runs through to Sunday, covering a total distance of 1,478km, 384km of which are 19 special stages.

Friday February 12
Start Leg One - Karlstad
Eight stages (142km)
Finish Leg One - Karlstad

Saturday February 13
Start Leg Two - Karlstad
Six stages (142km)
Finish Leg Two - Borlange

Sunday February 14
Start Leg Three - Borlange
Five stages (100km)
Finish - Karlstad

08.02.99 - F1
McLaren unveiled their car for the 1999 season in Barcelona - and it broke down on the first test lap. David Coulthard was hit by mechanical failure after the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/14 was launched at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. McLaren were testing ahead of the first race in Australia on March 7. Head of Mercedes Motorsport Norbert Haug said: "This was its first time on the track so you are always going to get teething problems."

Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard have issued a warning to rivals as their new McLaren was revealed in Spain. Finn Hakkinen spoke out as the Mercedes Benz-powered MP4-14 was unveiled at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona. He said: "Winning one championship is just the start for me. I am really looking forward to the new season." The World Champion's teammate Coulthard insisted though: "I am going into this year aiming to win more races and to win the championship."

F1:- Britain's Johnny Herbert outpaced last season's all-conquering McLaren team on the second day of testing in Barcelona in preparation for the new season. Herbert, who left Sauber for Stewart after the 1998 campaign, set the best lap time of the session with one minute, 23.375 seconds. He edged out McLaren's David Coulthard by more than 0.6 of a second. Damon Hill had problems with his Jordan and was more than one-and-a-half seconds off the pace.

David Coulthard has dismissed Damon Hill's claim that he can figure in the race for this season's drivers' crown. Hill said when he launched Jordan's challenge last week that he was not ruling out a successful world championship bid. But Coulthard said: "I think there are a few more teams in front of Jordan who have a better chance. "I would expect it to be between McLaren and Ferrari. I think that Ferrari are going to be very strong."

SPORTSCARS:- As well as Audi Sport Team Joest, Audi Sport UK is preparing to enter two cars in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June. Audi will therefore participate in pre- qualifying heats for the race on May 2 with four cars. Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Perry McCarthy have been named as three of Audi Sport UK's six drivers.

SALOON CARS:- Peugeot Sport have signed Finn Toni R. Ruokonen and Briton Duncan Vercoe for their entry into the 1999 Silverstone Insurance National Saloon Cup.

F.VAUXHALL:- Lewis Motorsport have signed Gary Turkington to race in Formula Vauxhall this season. The 17-year-old from Portadown in Northern Ireland will hope to win the title for the team which has won the championship for the last two years.

F3000:- Kid Jensen has signed 20-year-old Italian Andrea Piccini to join Nicolas Minassian of France in the 1999 Formula 3000 International Championship.

11.02.99 - F1
Pedro Martinez de la Rosa has revealed that he will be driving for Arrows during the 1999 camapign. The 28-year-old has claimed the drive after Arrows reached an agreement with Spanish petroleum company Repsol. "Driving in Formula One was always one of my dreams and now I have realised it," said Martinez de la Rosa. He will become the second Spaniard in Formula One this season after Minardi signed up Marc Gene, although Arrows have yet to confirm the deal.

SWEDISH RALLY:- Finland's Tommi Makinen made good use of his knowledge of Scandanavian conditions as he seized the lead at the halfway point. World champion Makinen has won two of the opening four stages in his Mitsubishi to open a 5.5 seconds lead over Spain's Carlos Sainz in a Toyota. Local driver Thomas Radstrom was third, 17.1 seconds adrift. Colin McRae was nearly two minutes off the pace in fifth overall after losing time when his Ford Focus hit a rock.

(after 8 stages):             mins secs
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 1:15.35.7
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota     1:15.37.4
 3 T Radstrom  Swe Ford       1:15.57.4
 4 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota     1:16.10.9
 5 C McRae     GB  Ford       1:17.32.8
 6 R Burns     GB  Subaru     1:18.02.6
 7 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru     1:18.03.0
 8 P Hagstrom  Fin Toyota     1:18.32.1
 9 B Thiry     Bel Subaru     1:19.45.5
10 P Solberg   Nor Ford       1:20.11.4

CHEVIOT NATIONAL RALLY:- John Price will begin the defence of his Safety Devices National Macadam Rally Championship on Sunday. He has won the Cheviot event for the past three years, so he and co-driver Caroline Broad will be favourites. John Brodie, who has also previously won the rally, will provide stiff opposition in his Escort Cosworth. In the Group N production category, Mark Worley will continue to drive his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO5 until his EVO6 is available in April.

TOURING CARS:- Six rounds of the 1999 Auto Trader British Touring Car championship will be screened live by the BBC. That includes, for the first time in its history, the series' curtain-raiser at Donington Park on April 5.

F.PALMER AUDI:- New Zealander Andy Booth has confirmed that he will return to the Formula Palmer Audi Championship this year. He took pole at Oulton Park last season and also escaped unhurt from a 100mph barrel roll at Brands Hatch before bowing to the cheering crowd.

World champion Tommi Makinen produced a devastating display of sustained speed to extend his lead over Carlos Sainz. The Finn, who held a narrow 1.2 second advantage at the start of the day, clocked the fastest time in the four stages to hold a half-a-minute cushion. Scotland's Colin McRae however was forced to retire from the event on the opening stage of the second day. The 30-year-old Scotsman developed an engine problem with his Ford Focus, as did brother Alister who also withdrew.

Britain's Colin McRae chose to look at the positive aspects following his retirement from the event. "Obviously it's disappointing but the car felt really good throughout the rally," he said. "We were about seven kilometres into the stage when the engine began to lose water. We continued for a short while when all the compression went. "I probably didn't make the most of it on Friday, but we're learning all the time and I'm pleased with the car."

(after 14 stages)            hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 2:37.16.6
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota     2:37.47.4
 3 T Radstrom  Swe Ford       2:38.05.4
 4 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota     2:38.19.4
 5 R Burns     GB  Subaru     2:42.08.0
 6 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru     2:42.13.2
 7 P Hagstrom  Fin Toyota     2:44.40.7
 8 M Martin    Est Ford       2:45.12.7
 9 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi 2:45.31.1
10 P Solberg   Nor Ford       2:45.35.8

SWEDISH RALLY:- Defending world champion Tommi Makinen of Finland held off Carlos Sainz of Spain by 18 seconds to clinch victory. It was the third triumph for Makinen in the Swedish event and his second straight win in this year's world championship series. Last month, the Mitsubishi driver won the Monte Carlo Rally. Sweden's Thomas Radstrom, driving the only Ford Focus left in the competition, came third only seconds ahead of France's Didier Auriol.

                             hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 3:29.15.6
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota     3:29.33.7
 3 T Radstrom  Swe Ford       3:29.53.4
 4 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota     3:29.55.9
 5 R Burns     GB  Subaru     3:35.04.9
 6 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru     3:35.10.0
 7 P Hagstrom  Fin Toyota     3:37.39.6
 8 M Martin    Est Ford       3:38.57.6
 9 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi 3:39.21.8
10 B Thiry     Fr  Subaru     3:39.48.9

Drivers Standings:
1 T Makinen    Fin   Mitsubishi  20
2 J Kankkunen  Fin   Subaru       7
3 D Auriol     Fr    Toyota       7
4 C Sainz      Sp    Toyota       6
5 T Radstrom   Swe   Ford         4
6 F Delecour   Fr                 3
7 R Burns      GB    Subaru       2
8 B Thiry      Fr    Subaru       2

Constructors standings:
1 Mitsubishi   20
2 Toyota       13
3 Subaru       10
4 Seat          5
5 Ford          4

NASCAR:- Jeff Gordon won his second Daytona 500 in three years when he held off defending champion Dale Earnhardt in a thrilling finish in Florida. Gordon took the lead from Mike Skinner on lap 191 and then denied Earnhardt on the last two laps to clinch victory by just 0.128 seconds.

F1:- Ralf Schumacher was fastest in testing at Kyalami as the Williams team bounced back in the final part of the build-up to the new Formula One season. Schu clocked a best time of 1:24.63 to erase some of Williams' embarrassment on Monday when they were outpaced by new boys British American Racing. But Schumacher's teammate Alex Zanardi admitted he was struggling as he ended third behind BAR's Riccardo Zonta. Zanardi said: "We found more problems than we expected we would here."

FIA president Max Mosley has hit out at new team British American Racing and accused them of "putting two fingers" up to the sport. He has criticised them over their bid to run two cars in different liveries. Mosley said: "Instead of waiting until the arbitration was completed they launched their cars with two different liveries with a huge press show. I suppose you could say, putting two fingers up to the FIA and the whole of the Formula One establishment."

VAUXHALL VECTRA'S:- Team Firstair will be contesting selected races in the Vauxhall Vectra SRi V6 Challenge this season. Warren Hughes, Richard Kaye, Richard Dean, Alastair Lyall and Bryce Wilson are among the names who will drive for the Middlesex-based outfit.

F.PALMER AUDI:- Robbie Kerr has moved up to Formula Palmer Audi for the 1999 campaign. The 19-year-old from Hinckley won the 1997 Formula First title. He is the 19th driver to sign up and the last five drives should be confirmed soon.

17.02.99 - F1
Jackie Stewart has checked out the new Formula One road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was impressed with the circuit. The executive chairman of Stewart-Ford has raced at the track in the Indianapolis 500. He said: "The fact there will be a US grand prix in 2000 is a very big step forward for Formula One. "I have felt there has been a tremendous void in our sport because there has been no race in the US."

Arrows have confirmed that they have entered into a long-term partnership with Spanish oil company Repsol. They have also officially revealed that Pedro Martinez de la Rosa will be driving for them in 1999.

18.02.99 - F1
Minardi have signed Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer for the 1999 season. Badoer, who will continue to test drive for Ferrari, joins Spaniard Marc Gene who signed for the Italian stable earlier this month.

SCOTTISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Former Scottish and Mintex champion Brian Lyall leads a 90-car entry for this weekend's opening round of the Championship in Inverness. The Aberdonian is chasing a hat-trick of wins in this event but will not contest the full series. Jim Carty, Andy Horne and Jon Burn will be in Inverness and all three are realistic title contenders this year. The surprise package could be 11th seed John McKeown, the current Northern Ireland Forest champion.

F3:- Doug Bell has strengthened the British Formula Three grid for the new season by joining the SS Sport team. Bell was runner-up in the 1998 Formula Renault Sport Championship with seven wins and the dominant 1997 Formula Vauxhall Junior champion. "I'm really looking forward to the first race," he said. "Formula Three is really looking strong this year with a mix of second year guys there as a benchmark for new drivers like myself."

NEWS:- The first purpose-built motor racing venue to be built in Britain since Brooklands in 1907 will open its doors for the first time next year. The Rockingham Motor Speedway circuit in Corby will introduce American-style high-speed oval racing to Europe.


F1:- Pedro Diniz has been cleared to race for Sauber in 1999. Brazilian Diniz left Arrows last season amid questions over his contract but the FIA have ruled that his new deal with Sauber is valid. The FIA said his Arrows contract was "validly terminated" and that Sauber had now been recognized as the "prevailing contract". Diniz, 28, will team up with Jean Alesi and has contested 66 races, finishing fifth twice and sixth three times.

SCOTTISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Brian Lyall completed a hat-trick of wins in the opening round with victory at the Snowman Rally event. Dave Weston grabbed an early ascendency Lyall took the advantage two stages later. Last year's championship runner up Jim Carty ran out of fuel late on. Local top seed Andy Horne tore off his suspension and retired.

Result:                    mins secs
1 Lyall/Cook     Subaru       56:50
2 Burn/Quirk     MG Metro     58:03
3 Weston/Robson  Mitsubishi   58:32
4 Carty/Bell     MG Metro     59:06
5 McKeown/Hynd   Cosworth     59:22

SAFARI RALLY:- Tommi Makinen is hunting his sixth win in seven outings in the third round of the 1999 World Championship this week. World champion Makinen and co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki already have a useful lead in the series and Makinen has tasted success before in the event. He won the 1996 Safari Rally and said: "We have had an excellent start to 1999 but it is still early in the season. Winning is never easy, especially on the Safari, but we will just try and do our best again."

Colin McRae is hoping his new Ford Focus car will stand up to the challenge presented by the longest and toughest rally on the calendar. The Scot is still looking for his first points and said: "The Safari is unique. "It is a rally any of the top drivers can win because outright speed does not guarantee success on endurance events like this. Reliability is the most important factor and you need a slice of luck to do well."

Mitsubishi Carisma GT crew Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets will be using the rally to gain experience. As with the Swedish Rally, the event is new to the pair and Loix added: "It is very easy to make a mistake in Kenya. "The Safari is one of the most famous names in rallying and it is one of the rallies that any driver wants to win." Team manager Phil Short confirmed: "Like our rivals, we are still finding out exactly what the rally has in store because of last-minute route changes."

Norwegian Petter Solberg will replace Thomas Radstrom in a Ford Focus in the Kenya event. Radstrom, who picked up the first points for the Focus when he was third in the Swedish Rally, broke a leg in an accident in Nairobi last week. He slipped and fell on some steps at his hotel. Solberg, who was 11th in Sweden, had been preparing for his home event ` the Finnskog Rally ` when he was nominated for a drive.

Harri Rovanpera drove an Ibiza Kit Car to fifth spot in last year's Safari Rally and will be aiming to better that in a four-wheel drive SEAT WRC. Rovanpera admitted: "I was very pleased with our result last year. "It was the first time I had been to Africa and also the first time SEAT Sport had contested the event. Having four-wheel drive in Africa will make life a lot easier when conditions are bad. Last year with the two-wheel drive we drove a tactical race."

The rally is made up of three legs, each starting and finishing in Nairobi. On Thursday the first leg begins with a 2.42km section and continues on Friday with four stages that complete the 349.85km leg. The second leg on Saturday contains 387.23km of stages and after nearly 15 hours the crews will return to Nairobi. Sunday's third leg has four sections totalling 277.29km and the 1,014.37km of timed sections make the event three times longer than any other round.

KALL KWIK RALLY:- Richmond's Steve Petch overcame treacherous conditions in the North Yorkshire Moors forests to steer his Ford Escort to victory. The 1997 Mintex National Group N (showroom) Champion and co-driver Peter Croft finished in a time of 43 minutes and 57 seconds. Brian Bell, who won the Wyedean Rally two weeks ago, took in second place, 20 seconds behind Petch. Twice Kall Kwik winner Charlie Payne came third in a time of 44.57secs.

Final positions after 6 stages (Sun):
 1 Petch/Croft    Ford        43.57
 2 Bell/Watson    Ford        44.17
 3 Payne/Thorley  Ford        44.57
 4 Watson/Moss    Ford        45.14
 5 Lawn/Morris    Mitsubishi  45.29
 6 Eaton/Hartland Ford        46.40
 7 Porter/Evans   Ford        47.51
 8 Cooper/Whattam Subaru      48.05
 9 Ruler/Darvell  Ford        48.09
10 Mennel/Hope    Talbot      48.23

22.02.99 - RALLYSPRINT
Reigning British rally champion Martin Rowe defeated former title-winner David Llewellin to win the TV Masters Rallysprint Challenge at Silervstone. Scottish women Barbara Armstrong and Louise Aitken-Walker teamed-up for the first time in their careers and reached the quarter-finals of the event.

23.02.99 - F1
British American Racing unveiled their revised livery at their final testing at Silverstone ahead of the new season, continuing to defy official's orders. The FIA told BAR earlier this month they could not use an original plan to have different designs on their cars for two BAT brands of tobacco. BAR have therefore decided to race two identical cars with the two brands named on either sides of each car. FIA boss Max Mosely said: "We think it is not the ideal situation."

F1:- Damon Hill's team boss Eddie Jordan feels the former world champion could quit the sport after this season if he is not competitive in this year's car. Jordan has partnered Hill with Heinz- Harald Frentzen for the 1999 campaign which starts in Melbourne next month. "How long Damon can go on, I don't know," he said. "If he does a good job for us, we'll want him to stay. If he doesn't, he'll want to stop himself. If things are getting too tough he'll be the first to say 'I'll go'."

RALLYE SUNSEEKER:- A total of 11 competitors from this year's Skoda Trophy are competing in this weekend's Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker. The race is the opening round of this year's Mintex Championship but does not count for the Trophy. However its' status is sufficient for drivers to upgrade their licences as long as they finish the 75-mile course. Championship favourite Dave West heads the Trophy field while Peter Busby and Paul Green are also taking part.

FORTEC:- Argentinian Norberto Fontana and Australian Andrej Pavicevic will drive for Fortec Motorsport for the team's debut in the 1999 F3000 Championship. Irish 18-year-old Michael Keohane joins Fortec Motorsport for the 1999 Formula EFDA Euroseries and Europa Cup.

F.RENAULT:- British karting champion Tom Ferrier will contest Formula Renault Sport's Star Cup this year.

FRENCH F3:- Elf La Filiere's Westley Barber impressed on his first French Formula 3 test on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit.

VAUXHALL VECTRA'S:- Lincoln-based driver Jason Yeomans will drive in the 1999 Vauxhall Vectra SRi V6 Challenge as the first recipient of a new young driver scholarship.

F3:- Snetterton Marc Hynes set the fastest time in a test session in Norfolk in preparation for this year's Formula Three series. Stewart Racing's Luciano Burti was second quickest, while Fortec's Kristian Kolby and Matthew Davies were third and fourth.

Leading times:   min secs
1 M Hynes        1:01.65
2 L Burti        1:01.70
3 K Kolby        1:01.90
4 M Davies       1:01.92
5 T Scheckter    1:02.05
6 J Button       1:02.35

SAFARI RALLY:- Juha Kankkunen celebrated his record 130th appearance in a rally by clocking the fastest time on the opening stage. The four-time former world champion won the 1.5 mile stage in Nairobi's Jamhuri Park by a second from Subaru teammate Richard Burns. Spain's Carlos Sainz was 0.1 seconds back in third, with Ford's Colin McRae fourth fastest. Tommi Makinen was 12th, nearly four seconds slower in his head-to-head against countryman Kankkunen.

Positions after 1 stage:
(End of day one)              min sec
 1 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru      1:53.4
 2 R Burns     GB  Subaru      1:54.4
 3 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota      1:54.5
 4 C McRae     GB  Ford        1:55.2
 5 P Liatti    Fin SEAT        1:55.4
 6 I Duncan    Ken Toyota      1:55.6
 7 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota      1:55.8
 8 H Rovanpera Fin SEAT        1:56.0
 = B Thiry     Bel Subaru      1:56.0
10 P Solberg   Nor Ford        1:56.4

 1 Rowe/Ringer    Renault Megane Maxi
 2 Dodd/Bannie    Ford Escort WRC
 3 Lauk'nen/L'rom Renault Megane Maxi
 4 D'wrth/B'field Subaru Impreza
 5 Gr'son/Merry   Subaru Impreza
 6 Layll/Cook     Subaru Impreza
 7 Burton/Morgan  Peugeot Cosworth
 8 Petch/Croft    Ford Escort WRC
 9 Har'son/J'kins MG Metro 6R4
10 P'kirk/Evans   MG Metro 6R4

F1:- The Arrows Formula One team will make an announcement next week to clear up the confusion over their driver line-up for the coming season. Spanish newcomer Pedro de la Rosa has been confirmed at the team, but his partner has yet to be named. The place looks set to go to either Finland's Mika Salo or former Tyrrell driver Toranosuke Takagi of Japan. A team spokesman said a news release would be issued on Monday morning.

SAFARI RALLY:- Britain's Richard Burns blasted his way into the lead of the Safari Rally at the end of a dramatic day in Kenya. Burns, who won the event last year, is nearly 27 seconds ahead of Spain's Carlos Sainz with fellow Briton Colin McRae well placed in third. But world champion Tommi Makinen is over 13 minutes adrift of the leaders. Makinen's team-mate Freddy Loix was lucky to escape serious injury after a crash as Mitsubishi's hopes of a record seventh successive rally win faltered.

Positions after Day 1         hr:mn:sec
 1 R Burns     GB  Subaru     2:50:06.2
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota     2:50:32.9
 3 C McRae     GB  Ford       2:52:02.4
 4 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota     2:56:24.8
 5 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 3:03:17.8
 6 P Liatti    Fin SEAT       3:05:34.4
 7 P Sohlberg  Nor Ford       3:09:54.3
 8 I Duncan    Ken Toyota     3:11:49.7
 9 H Rovanpera Fin SEAT       3:16:42.4
10 H Al W'aibi OM  Mitsubishi 3:17:26.4

SAFARI RALLY:- Richard Burns' hopes of repeating last year's win in the Safari Rally were dashed when he was forced to retire on day three of the event. His Subaru stopped on the 50-mile seventh stage because of suspension and other mechanical problems. The Oxford driver's problems gave Colin McRae the lead in the rally ` the first time the new Ford Focus car has headed the field. Burns had been eyeing his first win since taking over from McRae at Subaru.

Latest positions after 9 stages:hr:mn:sec
 1 C McRae     GB  Ford       6:18.45.4
 2 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 6:33.31.9
 3 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota     6:37.54.5
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota     6:42.37.7
 5 P Liatti    Fin SEAT       6:45.15.6
 6 I Duncan    Ken Toyota     6:46.14.3
 7 P Solberg   Nor Ford       6:56.23.9
 8 F Dor       Fr  Subaru     7:07.55.3
 9 H Rovanpera Fin SEAT       7:12.55.8
10 H Al W'aibi OM  Mitsubishi 7:32.18.5
Burns forced to retire on stage 7

Result after 15 stages:        Penalty
 1 M Dodd/J Bennie    Ford Es  1:08.51
 2 B Lyall/A Cook     Subaru   1:10.03
 3 K McKinstry/N Orr  Subaru   1:11.25
 4 S Petch/P Croft    Ford Es  1:12.05
 5 W Ph'skirk/E Evans MG Metro 1:12.33
 6 R D'worth/M B'ield Subaru   1:13.12
 7 I Gwynne/S O'G'man Subaru   1:13.13
 8 M Rowe/D Ringer    Renault  1:13.41
 9 T L'kknen/K L'strm Renault  1:14.02
10 V Wetton/J Haigh   M'bishi  1:14.13

F3000:- Portman Arrows continued their build-up to the Formula 3000 International Championship at a two-day test session in Barcelona. Drivers Boris Derichebourg and Marcelo Battistuzzi both had run-outs and team boss Piers Portman said: "We are pretty happy with how things have gone."

28.02.99 - SAFARI RALLY
Colin McRae took the honours as he grabbed a maiden victory in the new Ford Focus at only the third attempt. McRae won the world's toughest rally by nearly eight minutes from world champion Tommi Makinen ` who was later disqualified. The Scot's victory ` which came just a month after the Focus was ruled illegal because of its water pump ` was Ford's first on the Safari for 22 years. Makinen was disqualified after spectators helped him change a tyre.

Colin McRae paid tribute to the Ford team after his superb victory. McRae said: "The win means more to me than my first Safari Rally victory. It is a new car and a new team and for me it is a very special moment. "The rally was a good indicator for the rest of the season. In the first three events the Focus has finished third on two occasions and now we've won here. That is a superb achievement for any car but it's even better for us as the Focus is still in development."

Result after 13 stages:       hr:mn:sec
 1 C McRae     GB  Ford       8:41.39.1
 2 D Auriol    Fr  Toyota     8:56.05.3
 3 C Sainz     Sp  Toyota     8:59.46.3
 4 I Duncan    Ken Toyota     9:05.35.7
 5 P Solberg   Nor Ford       9:26.28.2
 6 H Rovanpera Fin SEAT       9:40.08.4
 7 F Dor       Fr  Subaru     9:41.38.2
 8 H Al W'aibi OM  Mit'bishi 10:05.09.0
 9 L Climent   Sp  Mit'bishi 10:08.24.2
10 H Miyoshi   Jpn Subaru

Drivers Standings
1 Makinen   20pts
2 Auriol    13
3 McRae     10
= Sainz     10

Manufacturers Standings
1 Toyota     23pts
2 Mitsubishi 20
3 Ford       17