February 2000 Motorsport News


F1:- Prost have announced a sponsorship deal with Internet group Yahoo! for the forthcoming season. No figures have been released, but reports suggest the deal is worth $25m (£15m) over three years.

FIA president Max Mosley has threatened to reduce the number of European grands prix if the European Union takes TV rights away from them. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Mosley attacked the EU for claiming that the FIA has an unfair monopoly on rights. "They say we've taken the rights from the organisers." he said. "We ensure that it is put out free." Mosley warned if the EU wins the right to dissolve the current deal, "we might reduce the number of events in the EU."

LE MANS:- Allan McNish will drive for Audi in this year's 24 Hour race at La Sarthe in June.


F1:- Eddie Jordan has called for Africa to be put back on the grand prix calender. The last race on the continent was the South African Grand Prix in 1993 at Kyalami, and team boss Jordan thinks it is time another race was hosted there. "We should have and must strive earnestly to have a race in Africa," Jordan said, adding that there should also be more races in Asia. "I'm not advocating a move from Europe but I'm just saying we need to address other areas which are important."

F.RENAULT:- Young British drivers Tom Sisley and Tom Herridge will drive for Motaworld Racing in the Formula Renault 2000 Championship this year.

LE MANS:- Mario Andretti will drive a Panoz for his Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar comeback at the age of 60.


F1:- McLaren have unveiled the new Mercedes V10 engine which will power the cars of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard in the coming season. Speaking at the car's official launch in Jerez, world champion Hakkinen said: "The team has been working extremely hard over the winter period. I am looking forward to the new season and having won two world titles, it is my ambition to fight for a third." Daimler Chrysler has also taken up its option to buy 40% of McLaren.

David Coulthard has vowed to improve on last year's disappointing results and put pressure on teammate Mika Hakkinen. "If I get a reliable car there is no reason why I can't be world champion," he declared. "I really believe I can do it this year. I am older, wiser and fitter - and hopefully more consistent. I feel refreshed and motivated. I guess I am going to be a bit less of a nice guy for everyone. I just need more time for myself."

BTCC:- The Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship date in Dublin, scheduled for August 12-13, has been removed from the calender for this year. The improvement work required at the Mondello Park circuit has not been completed in time. There will be moves to go to Ireland again in the future, possibly in 2001. The Donington Park meeting, originally scheduled for 26 March, has now been switched to Easter Bank Holiday Monday April 24.

Apr 8-9        1/2     Brands Hatch *
Apr 23-24      3/4     Donington Park
Apr 30-May 1   5/6     Thruxton
May 13-14      7/8     Knockhill
May 28-29      9/10    Oulton Park
Jun 10-11      11/12   Silverstone
Jun 24-25      13/14   Croft
Jul 8          15/16   Snetterton **
Jul 29-30      17/18   Donington Park *
Aug 27-28      19/20   Brands Hatch
Sep 9-10       21/22   Oulton Park *
Sep 16         23/24   Silverstone **
* BBC live television coverage
** Night race meeting

SWEDISH RALLY:- SEAT Sport have entered three cars for the Swedish Rally, which takes place from February 11-13. The three Cordoba WRC E2s will be driven by Didier Auriol, Toni Gardemeister and Harri Rovanpera.

NEWS:- The Croft PowerTour event, originally scheduled for July 29/30, has been moved forward one week to the weekend of July 22/23.


The Wyedean Forest Rally heralds the start of the new season on Saturday. The event is celebrating its 25th anniversary and last year's Wyedean winner Brian Bell is out for another triumph in his Escort. His main challengers are likely to be Andy Burton, Steve Winter, Pete Littler, Gary Smith and Theo Bengry. Nik Elsmore may also feature strongly. He has won in Formula Two on this rally for the past two years in a Nissan but is now in a Mitsubishi Lancer.


RALLYING:- British Rally Champion Tapio Laukkanen will try the Volkswage Golf GTi with which he will defend his title for the first time later this month. The 30-year-old Oxford-based driver will take part in a seven-day gravel- surface test session organised by his team in Wales and Scotland.

DAYTONA 24 HRS:- Paul Newman's bid for a second Daytona title ended eight hours into the race when the engine in his Porsche blew and he retired after 225 laps. The 75-year-old actor was not at the wheel at the time but had manoeuvred his car into 31st place from the start. Jason Weaver's Dyson Racing Ford has regained the lead and control of the race after early mechanical problems. Both Didge Vipers are also running well, but all three Ferrari 333 SPs are suffering with engine difficulties.


F1:- Former world champion Michael Schumacher has hit out at the critics who believe Britain's Jenson Button is too young to be in Formula One. The Ferrari star insisted: "It is not whether he is old enough but if he is mature enough and if he is fast enough. "There is no reason why he cannot do a good job." Twenty-year-old Button will be the fifth youngest driver in grand prix history when he makes his debut in Melbourne on March 12.

Ferrari have unveiled the car that they hope will propel them to the drivers' title in 2000. The F1 2000 is based on last season's F399, which led the Italian-based team to the constructors' crown and Eddie Irvine to runners-up spot. Team boss Jean Todt said: "The objectives are clear and difficult to achieve - to do better than last year." Michael Schumacher will be partnered by Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello, who has replaced Irvine.

SALOON CARS:- Tom Boardman is set to become the youngest driver in the Silverstone Insurance National Saloon Championship this season. Boardman, who was 16 in September, is stepping up from T-Cars to race a Peugeot 306GTi6. The Lancaster-based driver has shown his talents in grass track racing, where he is a multiple champion. He is hoping to make his National Saloon debut at Thruxton on March 26 during the opening PowerTour.


F3:- Matthew Davies has replaced Formula One bound Jenson Button in Renault UK's British Formula 3 team. "I'm with a team rated by many as the best out there so this is my best chance to win the title," said the former Formula Renault champion.

RENAULT CLIO’S:- Former Honda CRX and Rover Tomcat champion Adrian Churchill will contest the Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup with former BTCC team DC Cook Motorsport.


SWEDISH RALLY:- The Swedish Rally, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, heralds round two of the 2000 World Championship. After a ceremonial start, drivers will cover only 700m on day one. Based at Karlstad, the first leg includes a stunning stage on the frozen lake at Torsby as well as a new section at the Arvika rallycross circuit. The second leg is demanding for drivers, who will spend nearly 15 hours behind the wheel, and leg three contains five stages totalling 96km.

Series leader and world champion Tommi Makinen will be the clear favourite for this event having already triumphed in Sweden three times before. The Finn enthused: "We have had an excellent start to the season and we did some very good testing for Sweden. It is hard work, of course, but the Lancer has proved to be competitive in these conditions. Also, for a Finn, it is always good to have a chance of beating the Swedes.”

Britain's Richard Burns will be contesting the event for the third time and will be aiming to build on his early form in the last round. Burns failed t finish in Monte Carlo but said: "Things went really well for me on leg one and there were plenty of positive aspects to focus on. Sweden is a special event for me and the tyres make a great difference to the style of driving. You must be on the power a bit more to keep the studs digging into the ice."

This is the only true all-winter event of the series and with temperatures capable of falling to minus 20 degrees it gives drivers a unique experience. Ford's Colin McRae knows how to deal with the conditions and revealed: "It is down to the studs. They provide the grip but because the tyres are not actually in direct contact with the ground you experience more of a floating sensation. We tested in Sweden before Christmas and was pleased with how it went."

Carlos Sainz is eager to break one of the last great traditions of the World Championship on Sunday. No driver outside Scandinavia has won the Swedish Rally in its 49-year history but Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya are out to end that record. "We have been close to winning four times and last year we were less than 20 seconds behind the winner," he said. "So I think a non-Scandinavian can win it and I hope that it will happen to me this year."

Juha Kankkunen won the Swedish Rally on his first attempt in 1986 and has competed in it seven times in all. The Subaru star has been encouraged by the team's testing performances and is targeting another win. He has had four podium finishes in Sweden and said: "I really like this event and I feel in a better position for victory than I was last year. Sweden is a specialist event. It takes a special type of driving and, most importantly, the right tyre choice."

SEAT Sport have entered three drivers for round two - Didier Auriol, Toni Gardemeister and Harri Rovanpera. Forty-one-year-old Auriol has competed in the rally in five different types of car and for three manufacturers. He said: "Sweden is a very hard and fast rally and normally I go quite well. It is always a difficult event for tyres. Last year Pirelli did not have the best solution but they have worked hard to develop new tyres for Sweden."

Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae will be bidding to make a mark for Hyundai. Eriksson and co-driver Staffan Parmander will be the only Swedish crew in a works World Championship car. McRae, meanwhile, has contested this event four times but admitted: "Kenneth has an enormous amount of experience so hopefully I can learn from him. I am sure we will set some good times during the event while making sure that we have a trouble-free rally. This certainly will not be an easy event."

F1:- Jenson Button had a quickest time of 1:37.047 in testing at Kyalami in South Africa in wet conditions. Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher's quickest lap was 1:28.892, recorded on dry weather tyres as the rain cleared.


F1:- Jordan driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen has been linked with a move to Jaguar at the end of this year. German magazine Motorsport Aktuell have reported that Frentzen has already signed a letter of intent to drive for Jaguar, starting with the 2001 season. Frentzen left Williams for Jordan and overshadowed team-mate Damon Hill last year to finish third overall. Former Ferrari star and 1999 runner-up Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert will lead Jaguar's bid this season.

Michael Schumacher had to abandon a test session in Ferrari's new car after only four laps because he was suffering from a stiff neck. His time on lap three of one minute, 01.26 seconds was one second off the track record for last season's F399. Meanwhile, unseasonally wet weather washed out a Johannesburg session for Williams and British American Racing. Track conditions were suitable but a medical helicopter ` which must be in attendance - was grounded by the mist.

South African Tomas Scheckter could be the first South African since his father Jody to race in Formula One. Sheckter has signed with Stewart and Jaguar to race the British Formula Three Championship and undertake a programme of testing with Jaguar. Jaguar also has an option to run Scheckter in Grands Prix during 2001.

Benetton's Alexander Wurz posted the fastest time on the third day of testing at Barcelona. The Austrian posted a time of 1:21.2. David Coulthard posted the second fastest time of the day of 1:21.4. Wurz, who hands over the testing programme to Giancarlo Fisichella on Friday, said he was pleased with the day's work. "We made some good progress with the set-up today and I am getting more and more comfortable in the car," he said.

Leading times (Thu):
1 A Wurz        Aut Benetton 1:21.25
2 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:21.43
3 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:21.63
4 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:21.84
5 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:22.15
6 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:22.80
7 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:23.95
8 J Verstappen  Hol Arrows   1:24.46

NEWS:- Former Brazilian Formula One world champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet have lost the rights to their circuit in Rio De Janeiro. A company owned by the duo held the rights to the concession but city authorities said the company had failed to fulfill the terms of their contract.

CART:- Dario Franchitti, who narrowly missed out on last year's CART title, has been injured in a crash in Florida. The Scot was seriously hurt when his car hit the wall and spun 180 degrees during the first day of training at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. He fractured his left hip and pelvis and suffered small contusions to his brain but could be released from hospital as early as Saturday. The injuries might keep Franchitti from the season-opening race on March 26.

SALOON CARS:- Synchro Motorsport will enter a pair of five-door Honda Civic VTis in the 2000 National Saloon Championship for drivers Dave Allan and Kevin Hicks. Allan will be forced to miss the opening race of the season because of work commitments so his place will be taken by Bill Stilwell.

RALLYING:- SEAT Sport will use Welshman Gwyndaf Evans as official test driver for the 2000 World Rally Championship. Evans said: "I hope my experience with four-wheel drive will help."


F1:- The BMW Williams team were finally able to carry out some testing at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa after four days of torrential rain. The rain relented on Friday afternoon and both Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button were able to complete a number of laps. Schumacher's fastest time was 1:26.383 while Button recorded 1:26.672. Technical director Patrick Head was pleased with the day and said: "We are learning about the car all the time."

Friday's times:              mins secs
 1 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren   1:21.42
 2 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan    1:21.84
 3 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren   1:22.19
 4 P Diniz       Brz Sauber    1:22.22
 5 M Salo        Fin Sauber    1:22.23
 6 J Trulli      It  Jordan    1:22.74
 7 G Fisichella  It  Benetton  1:22.87
 8 N Heidfeld    Ger Prost     1:23.00
 9 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar    1:23.03
10 P de la Rosa  Sp  Arrows    1:23.12
11 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar    1:23.82
12 J Alesi       Fr  Prost     1:25.86

MGF CUP:- Paul O'Neill will be entering the MGF Cup again this year but has left Bintcliffe Sport to join Nick Carr and Alastair Lyall at Techspeed Motorsport. O'Neill is the younger brother of Sporty Spice Mel C and Techspeed team boss Marvin Humphries said: "We think he has a huge amount of potential."

SWEDISH RALLY:- Finland's Marcus Gronholm overcame a problem with his Peugeot's central differential to dominate proceedings on the opening day. Gronholm won three of the last four stages but admitted: "I hit a rock on the sixth stage and thought I would get a puncture but it was okay." Thomas Radstrom is lying in second place, while world champion Tommi Makinen is third. Britain's Colin McRae and Richard Burns are fourth and fifth.

Colin McRae went off on the fifth stage but survived that scare to finish the day in fourth place. "We had a pretty big incident and we were lucky to escape," said the Scot. "The car snapped sideways as we came to a left bend and we bounced across the road into a ditch on the other side. We did not hit anything but it was very close. We also had a poor engine at the start of the day so I am now quite pleased."

Leaderboard after day one:   hr min sec
 1 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot    1:06.27.2
 2 T Radstrom  Swe Toyota        @ 15.0
 3 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi    @ 18.1
 4 C McRae     GB  Ford          @ 24.3
 5 R Burns     GB  Subaru        @ 28.4
 6 C Sainz     Sp  Ford          @ 37.0
 7 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru        @ 42.9
 8 F Delecour  Fr  Peugeot    @ 01.07.0
 9 T G'rdmster Fin SEAT       @ 01.21.3
10 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT       @ 02.03.4
19 A McRae     GB  Hyundai    @ 04.17.4

CHEVIOT NATIONAL RALLY:- John Price will be trying to earn his sixth Otterburn victory in seven years when the 2000 Safety Devices National Championship begins on Sunday. Price will lead the field away in his Metro 6R4, while the man who thwarted his bid for six wins out of six - John Brodie - will start at number two. Chris Griffiths, the runner-up in last year's Cheviot Rally, will be at number three in his Subaru Impreza. Kenny McKinstry and Noel Orr will contest the event in a Porsche.


F1:- McLaren's David Coulthard posted the fastest times in practice at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona. The British driver, number two to world champion Mika Hakkinen, set a fastest lap time of 1min 21.75secs during the 70-lap session between seven teams. Spain's Pedro de la Rosa in the Arrows was next quickest, with Hakkinen fifth. Meanwhile, Williams newcomer Jenson Button outpaced team-mate Ralf Schumacher in testing in Johannesburg with a fastest lap of 1:24.784.

Leading times (Sat):
1 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:21.75
2 P de la Rosa  Sp  Arrows   1:21.83
3 P Diniz       Brz Sauber   1:22.54
4 M Salo        Fin Sauber   1:22.61
5 M Hakkinen    Fin McLarens 1:22.67
6 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:22.90
7 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:23.55
8 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:23.81

Leaderboard after day two:   hr min sec
 1 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot    2:31.08.0
 2 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi   @  26.5
 3 C McRae     GB  Ford         @  29.6
 4 T Radstrom  Swe Toyota       @  36.4
 5 R Burns     GB  Subaru       @  42.9
 6 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru      @ 2.09.2
 7 F Delecour  Fr  Peugeot     @ 2.30.4
 8 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT        @ 4.03.8
 9 M Martin    Est Toyota      @ 4.10.5
10 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi  @ 4.11.7


F1:- Leading times (Sat):
1 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:21.75
2 P de la Rosa  Sp  Arrows   1:21.83
3 P Diniz       Brz Sauber   1:22.54
4 M Salo        Fin Sauber   1:22.61
5 M Hakkinen    Fin McLarens 1:22.67
6 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:22.90
7 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:23.55
8 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:23.81

Giancarlo Fisichella completed a staggering 92 laps on the final day of testing at Barcelona. The B200 will test again in France on February 16-18. Spain's Pedro De La Rosa set a new official track record at the Catalunya circuit as the Arrows driver clocked 1min 20.232secs.

SWEDISH RALLY:- Finland's Marcus Gronholm held on to claim victory - his first in the world rally championship. The Peugeot driver, who had to contend with heavy snowfall on the final two stages, finished 6.8 seconds ahead of compatriot Tommi Makinen. Reigning world champion Makinen remains the World Championship leader. Briton Colin McRae snatched third position in his Ford on the final stage ahead of home driver Thomas Radstrom, in a privately-run Toyota.

Scotland's Colin McRae was delighted after finishing in third place in the Rally of Sweden - the winner being Finland's Marcus Gronholm. The podium place ended a nightmare for McRae who had not finished a rally since last May in Corsica - a run of nine straight retirements. McRae said: "After all our problems this is just as good as winning. I was so relieved to see the finish line of the last stage after all we have been through."

Final leaderboard after 20 stages:
                             hr min sec
 1 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot    3:20.33.3
 2 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 3:20.40.1
 3 C McRae     GB  Ford       3:20.47.0
 4 T Radstrom  Swe Toyota     3:20.48.2
 5 R Burns     GB  Subaru     3:21.08.3
 6 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru     3:23.20.9
 7 F Delecour  Fr  Peugeot    3:24.05.2
 8 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi 3:25.41.6
 9 M Martin    Est Toyota     3:25.47.3
10 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT       3:25.49.2

CHEVIOT NATIONAL RALLY:- An 11-year-old boy died and six other people were injured when a rally car hit spectators at the Cheviot National. The incident occurred on the private roads of the Otterburn Military Ranges in Northumberland. Three members of the boy's family were among the six injured and the rally was immediately called off. The organisers will launch a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident in conjunction with the Motor Sports Association.


F1:- Rookie Jenson Button must be granted a super licence if he is to make his debut in Australia on March 12. The 20-year-old Williams driver must prove to a 26-man commission that he is good enough because he has not proved himself in other championships. He does not qualify directly for a licence but may be exempted because he has done 300km in testing. FIA president Max Mosley said: "It cannot be assumed by any team that the issuing of a licence is automatic."

Williams and British American Racing finally managed to get down to some serious testing after a let-up in the weather in South Africa. Unexpected heavy rains had hit their plans for hot and dry weather testing. However, Williams' Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button managed 129 laps between them when the sun broke through and are now heading home. BAR's Ricardo Zonta got in 70 laps and Jacques Villeneuve will take over from him on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Minardi have confirmed that Argentine Gaston Mazzacane will be their number two driver for the 2000 campaign. The 24-year-old will make his debut in the sport alongside Marc Gene.

CHEVIOT NATIONAL RALLY:- Police are examining video footage from Sunday's Cheviot National Rally after an 11-year-old boy was killed when a Vauxhall Nova lost control on a bend. Marc Taylor from Winlaton died after the car, driven by Alyn Stockton from Ouston, landed on top of him. His eight-year-old cousin Christopher Hymers is fighting for his life in hospital and Christopher's father and the boys' grandfather were also hurt. The Motor Sports Association have launched an inquiry into the accident.

F.FORD:- Haywood Racing have signed four drivers to contest the Slick 50 Formula Ford Zetec Championship, which the team first won in 1998 with Jenson Button. They are Hemel Hempstead's Anthony Davidson, South African Johan Fourie, Nordic champion Robin Rudholm and South-African born Alan van der Merwe. Richard Evans, Ross Kaiser, Matthew Gilmore and John Lanceley have entered the Junior Formula Ford Zetec series. Sam Schroeder, David Male and Barry Sime will also be racing in 2000.


F1:- Jenson Button has escaped injury after he almost collided with a bird in a 160mph incident in South Africa. The bird died after hitting the air-box on Button's Williams BMW during testing at the Kyalami circuit on Monday. "It could have been a lot more serious and it's a good job Jenson sits low down in the car," said his father John. Meanwhile Williams are confident the Briton will be granted a super licence to make his Grand Prix debut for the team in Australia on March 12.

RALLYING:- David Higgins will form part of a two- pronged Peugeot attack on this year's Mobil 1 British Rally Championship. Higgins is set to make his debut in next month's Vauxhall Rally of Wales when he bids to repeat last year's win. His partner at Peugeot is Justin Dale, driver of their sole works entry for the last two years. Peugeot boss Mick Linford said: "I'm very pleased to have David driving for us this year. He and Justin will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with."

NEWS:- Tony Bettenhausen, who drove Indy cars before becoming a team owner, has died in a US plane crash with two other men and his wife at the age of 48. Bettenhausen was the youngest son of a well-known motor sport family and raced Indy cars from 1979-93.


F1:- Briton Jenson Button has satisfied the criteria for racing in Formula One and his application for a "superlicence" is being prepared, claim his Williams team Williams spokesman Nav Sidhu said that Button had completed his mandatory 300kms in a Formula One car over a two day period. "He did that at Kyalami in South Africa on Sunday and Monday," said Sidhu. "We are processing his application now and do not envisage any problem. It was never a problem for Williams."

British American Racing are confident they can have a good season after finishing a 10-day test having covered 500 laps of the Kyalami circuit. BAR were the only team to fail to score a point in last year's Championship. They have now completed almost 5,000 miles of testing so far over the winter as they prepare for the new campaign. "To have achieved nearly an entire season's race distance by mid-February is a remarkable achievement," said team manager Robert Synge.

F3 (Snetterton):-
Testing times (Wed):             secs
 1 A Pizzonia     Manor         62.42
 2 M Davies       Promatecme    62.91
 3 N Karthikeyan  Stewart       63.07
 4 T Sato         Carlin        63.14
 5 T Scheckter    Stewart       63.18
 6 A Priaulx      Promatecme    63.21
 7 T Spouge       SS Sport      63.31
 8 M O'Connell    Rowan         63.31
 9 G Bruni        Fortec        63.45
10 M Bentwood     Fortec        63.54

FORD FIESTA’S:- The 21st anniversary of the Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec Championship will feature Jason Bartella, Keith Chapman and Wayne Stockton, who will race for BIM.


F1:- Michael Schumacher is happy with Ferrari's new F1-2000 after giving it a test run in Italy. He said it was already outperforming the F399, which brought Ferrari the constructors' title in 1999. "I'd hardly tried the car out before," he said. "But it holds the track well, even in the wet. As far as I'm concerned, the season has got off to a better start than last year, when the car did have a few problems in the wet."

SCOTTISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Bryan Lyall heads the entries as this year's Scottish championship gets underway on Saturday. The 1997 Scottish and Mintex champion will be driving a Subaru but has not yet decided whether he will contest the full series. Other contenders will be last year's champion Jon Burn and runner-up John McKeown, while former champions Andrew Wood and Raymond Munro also take part. In total there are nearly 100 entries from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

MINTEX RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- The 2000 campaign gets underway on Sunday with the Kall Kwik Rally based in the forests of North Yorkshire. Durham driver Steve Petch is one of the favourites for the open category in his Ford Escort WRC. However, he is likely to face strong opposition from Chris Mellors and Brian Bell. The event is scheduled to start from Pickering Market Place at 8am and includes spectator stages in Dalby and Cropton forests.

F.RENAULT:- Richard Lyons has rejoined Team JLR to contest the Formula Renault 2000 series.

18.02.2000 - F1

Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker has insisted that the season-opening race in Melbourne will go ahead despite fears over industrial action. Unions have threatened to stop work on the circuit, stands and facilities which are built every year at the Albert Park track. Walker said that an "early resolution" was in sight to the problems. "I want to make sure our image overseas and interstate is intact and that we present a great race," he added.


F1: Saturday times from Barcelona:
 1 M Hakkinen   Fin   McLaren  1:21.85
 2 M Gene       Sp    Minardi  1:22.09
 3 D Coulthard  GB    McLaren  1:22.45
 4 J Herbert    GB    Jaguar   1:22.82
 5 E Irvine     GB    Jaguar   1:22.88
 6 J Trulli     It    Jordan   1:22.90
 7 HH Frentzen  Ger   Jordan   1:23.44
 8 G Mazzacane  Arg   Minardi  1:23.70
 9 P de la Rosa Sp    Arrows   1:24.11
10 N Heidfeld   Ger   Prost    1:24.76
11 J Alesi      Fr    Prost    1:25.00

SCOTTISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Andrew Wood and Ann Parker scored a shock result on the opening round with a memorable win in awful conditions. Snow and ice greeted the 100 car field at the start, and 1989 Scottish champion Wood equipped himself best.

Provisional results: (Sat) mins secs
1 Wood/Parker     Audi        67.18
2 Burn/Quirk      MG Metro    67.42
3 Lyall/Forrest   Subaru      67.53
4 Adam/Adam       Mit'bishi   69.07
5 Smith/Carstairs Ford        69.08
6 Nicoll/Lumgair  Ford        70.27

F3:- Fortec Motorsport have announced their Formula Three driver line-up for the 2000 season as Englishman Michael Bentwood and Italian Gianmaria Bruni.  Bentwood, 22, finished eighth in the Championship last year and 18-year-old Bruni makes his debut after winning back-to-back Italian Renault events.


F1:- Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has insisted that Michael Schumacher will stay with the team in 2001, even if he does not win the title this year. Di Montezemolo told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the former world champion would remain with the Italian outfit beyond the 2000 campaign. He added: "We have lost the title in the last race of the season in the last three years. Our goal has to be to win the drivers' title in 2000."

FORTALEZA 6 HRS:- British Formula Three Championship favourite Antonio Pizzonia dominated the qualifying session for this endurance race on Brazil's west coast. Pizzonia clocked the fastest time in his BMW sportscar to claim pole position for the event. It meant he outqualified his friend and team-mate triple Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet. Piquet will be sharing the driving in the 300bhp car with the 19-year-old fellow Brazilian.

KALL-KWIK RALLY (MINTEX RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP):- Chris Mellors pipped last year's winner Steve Petch to victory in his Ford Escort world rally car. Petch led for the most of the day but his Escort WRC's centre differential broke on the penultimate stage, leaving him to finish in two-wheel drive. The fact that he only lost by seven seconds is a testament to his ability and commitment. The result means that Mellors also leads this year's championship standings ahead of Petch.

Result after 7 stages:        hr:mn:sec
 1 C Mellors     Ford Escort   0:55:29
 2 S Petch       Ford Escort   0:55:36
 3 J Milner      Toyota Celica 0:57:31
 4 W Philliskirk MG Metro 6R4  0:58:45
 5 A Ginley      Subaru Imp    0:59:51
 6 A Eaton       Escort Cos    1:00:04
 7 J Ausobsky    Escort Cos    1:01:41
 8 D Brown       Subaru Imp    1:02:02
 9 N Barratt     Mitsubishi L  1:03:22
10 T Wilson      Mitsubishi G  1:03:32

BRITISH GTs:- Martin Parsons will switch from an Alfa Romeo 164 to the Lancia Stratos of Hennessy Racing in the 2000 Privilege Insurance British GT Championship.


F1:- Benetton have unveiled their human performance centre at their Enstone base in Oxfordshire. The state-of-the-art facility is designed to give a scientific approach to driver and team training in a bid to improve performance. Chief executive Rocco Benetton said: "The fitness of a driver is of paramount importance to his performance and his needs are unique." The team also said they would like closer ties with Renault in future.

FORTALEZA 6 HRS:- Rising Brazilian star Antonio Pizzonia and legendary triple F1 world champion Nelson Piquet were robbed of victory by a technical fault late in the race. Pizzonia had built a two lap lead within 60 minutes and was preparing to hand over to Piquet when the rear suspension gave way on the BMW. "It was at the fastest part of the circuit, I was doing around 120mph," the 19-year-old explained. He returns to the UK this week to plan for the British F3 Championship.

NASCAR (DAYTONA 500):- Defending Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett made a late-race pass to claim his third Daytona 500 victory. He took the glory after passing Johnny Benson with four laps left. Benson eventually finished in 12th spot and Jeff Burton was second as Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin completed a Ford top five. "When I got into this sport I never dreamed that I could win three Daytona 500s," said Jarrett, who also triumphed in 1993 and 1996.

Race result (Sun):           laps
 1 D Jarrett        Ford      200
 2 J Burton         Ford      200
 3 B Elliott        Ford      200
 4 R Wallace        Ford      200
 5 M Martin         Ford      200
 6 B Labonte        Pontiac   200
 7 T Labonte        Chevrolet 200
 8 W Burton         Pontiac   200
 9 K Schrader       Pontiac   200
10 M Kenseth        Ford      200

NATIONAL SALOONS:- Heynes Team Motorsports Ltd will enter the 2000 Silverstone Insurance National Saloon Championship with a two-car team of works-assisted Peugeot 306 GTi6s. The drivers have yet to be confirmed but one of them could be team owner Jonathan Heynes' brother Alex. Brazil's Alex Barros has signed a one year extension to his contract with Honda-Pons, team owner Sito Pons said.


F1:- Jenson Button has been forced to pull out of this week's Williams testing programme in Spain with a back injury. The 20-year-old pulled a muscle during a gym session on Sunday and has been advised to rest for a few days. He is however expected to recover in time to make his world championship debut in the Australian GP on March 12. Williams test driver Bruno Junquiera, pipped by Button for the number two driver's seat, will temporarily take over testing duties.

SAFARI RALLY:- The Safari Rally, which runs from Friday to Sunday, marks round three of the World Championship and is arguably the toughest event on the calendar. Drivers will be presented with a unique challenge because of the unmade African roads, the heat and the altitude. Juha Kankkunen has won the rally three times in 10 starts and world champion Tommi Makinen triumphed in his first appearance in 1996. Colin McRae took the honours last year in his third outing in a Ford Focus.

The event starts from Nairobi on Friday and the opening leg contains four competitive sections totalling 350km. Saturday will herald one of the longest days in the championship calendar. The route on the second leg crosses the equator and includes four competitive sections totalling 359km. Sunday's final leg is an exact repeat of leg one. The finish is outside the Safari Park Hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Good fortune has deserted Tommi Makinen in the Safari Rally since he won on his debut in the event in 1996. The world champion failed to finish in 1997 and 1998 because of mechanical problems in Kenya. He did drive the Marlboro Mitsubishi Lancer into second place last year but was controversially excluded. Makinen missed out after it was ruled that he had received outside assistance from local people while changing a punctured tyre.

Colin McRae and co-driver Nicky Grist notched their first win in a Ford Focus in last year's Safari Rally and would relish a repeat result. "I enjoy the rally very much and it is Nicky's favourite," enthused the Scot. "I would love to win again. It is all about endurance, an adventure over pretty wild terrain. The sections are long and held over open roads with animals roaming across the plains. You must find a balance between speed and survival."

Richard Burns is one of the favurites for the event after clinching a victory in Africa in 1998. The Briton, who has competed in the event four times, was second in 1997 and said: "It is an incredible event. It will always be special for me because my win here in 1998 was my first world rally victory. I was unlucky last year when I had to retire from the lead but this year, with the latest Subaru car, I am full of confidence."

Juha Kankkunen will be one of the most experienced competitors in the field, having taken part in the event 10 times in all. A previous winner of the Paris-Dakar Rally, the 40-year-old Finn won here on his first attempt in 1985. Overall the Subaru driver has had three wins and three second places. "This event is something special for sure," he said. "There is nothing quite like it. With this car I have a great opportunity for another victory."

Ford star Carlos Sainz will take a cautious approach in round three. "Although the Safari has moved closer to a European-style event recently it is still very different," he said. "The roads are so rough and rocky in places that it is impossible to drive at 100 per cent all the time as we do on other rallies. Several years ago teams were allowed to put mechanics in helicopters so they could land and make repairs but that is not allowed any more."

Ford Martini are entering a third Focus in the Kenyan event, which will be driven by Petter Solberg. Solberg finished fifth on his debut in Africa last year after being called into the team as a late replacement for the injured Thomas Radstrom. "Last year's rally was a dream for me," admitted the Norwegian. "It was such a learning experience and I think I gained more knowledge of the sport in those three days than I had up to then in my entire career."

Didier Auriol will be bidding to keep up his record of a top-four finish in each of his Kenya rallies. The SEAT driver was second last year, third in 1994 and fourth in 1998 and he revealed: "I am really looking forward to the rally. The problem is, in recent years, that the event has got faster. This is not so good for us and I hope there are not long flat-out stretches but more rough sections where we can use the Cordoba's superior strength."

Skoda Motorsport will be entering the Safari Rally for the first time. The East African event is more than twice as long as any other round and Skoda team boss Pavel Janeba said: "It is a unique technical challenge." Armin Schwarz was fourth in Kenya in 1997, while Luis Climent has had top-10 finishes in the last two seasons. Schwarz said: "If we do not suffer any major dramas we could still claim a top-six place and score championship points for the third event in a row."

ITALIAN F3000:- Scottish driver Mark Shaw will compete in the Italian Formula 3000 Championship this season with the Kent-based Edenbridge Racing team.


F1 TESTING (Jerez):-
Wednesday's times:           mins secs
 1 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:23.524
 2 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:24.445
 3 O Panis       Fr  McLaren  1:25.039
 4 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:25.496
 5 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:25.876
 6 R Zonta       Brz BAR      1:26.160
 7 P Diniz       Brz Sauber   1:26.171
 8 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:26.533
 9 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:26.651
10 A Wurz        Aut Benetton 1:27.827
11 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:27.985

F3000 TESTING (Valencia)
Leading test times:         mins secs
 1 M Haberfeld     Fortec    1:24.516
 2 J Wilson        Nordic    1:24.885
 3 T Enge          McLaren   1:24.991
 4 M Webber        EFR       1:25.008
 5 S Sarrazin      McLaren   1:25.028
 6 S Bourdais      Gauloises 1:25.079
 7 E Bernoldi      Red Bull  1:25.153
 8 A Couto         Gauloises 1:25.234
 9 F Montagny      Dams      1:25.298
10 J van Hooydonk  Witmeur   1:25.317

NATIONAL SALOONS:- Barry Barnes will race a Toyota Carina in the National Saloon Championship after his initial plans to drive a Ford Focus hit component supply problems.

BTCC:- The Independents' Cup package for the 2000 British Touring Car Championship has been announced. There will be guaranteed start money, free Michelin race tyres, no series registration fees and ś10,000 for the overall champion. Each entrant will be guaranteed ś60,000 in start money (ś5,000 per meeting).

F.FORD:- Milton Keynes teacher Barry Pomfret will be competing in this year's Formula Ford Zetec Challenge, having raced Formula Ford for several years.

24.02.2000 - F1

Williams officials have insisted that new driver Jenson Button will be fit to make his world championship debut at the Australian GP next month. The 20-year-old missed testing in Spain this week because of a back injury but is "100%" certain to race in Melbourne. A spokesman for Williams added that Button would test the car at Silverstone next week. Button will partner Ralf Schumacher at Williams this season after replacing Italian Alex Zanardi in the winter.

F1 TESTING (Jerez)
Thursday's times:           mins secs
1 O Panis       Fr  McLaren  1:24.00
2 D Coutlhard   GB  McLaren  1:24.03
3 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:24.66
4 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:25.07
5 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:25.12
6 R Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:25.27
7 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:25.68


F1 TESTING (Jerez)
Friday times:               mins secs
 1 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:23.24
 2 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:23.32
 3 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:23.41
 4 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:23.71
 5 R Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:23.89
 6 P Diniz       Brz Sauber   1:24.06
 7 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:24.10
 8 A Wurz        Aut Benetton 1:24.26
 9 N Heidfeld    Ger Prost    1:24.39
10 B Junqueira   Brz Williams 1:24.46
11 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:24.75
12 O Panis       Fr  McLaren  1:25.29

Malaysia's first Formula One race, which was staged last October, earned the country over $131.6m.

Arrows have postponed the launch of their new car after signing a deal with a major new sponsor. The unveiling has been moved from next Monday to later in the week so that the car's livery can be changed.

SAFARI RALLY:- Briton Richard Burns led after the opening four stages, following Tommi Makinen's withdrawal. Burns was able to build a lead of almost four-and-a-half minutes over second place Finn Juha Kankkunen. Frenchman Didier Auriol was in third place in his SEAT with defending champion Colin McRae 13.33 off the pace in fifth after a number of problems. Makinen dropped out of the picture as a result of a broken rear suspension and three punctures.

Reigning world champion Tommi Makinen was forced to retire on the first day after his Mitsubishi failed to start. The Finn, who has not scored a point in event in the previous three years, was in second when a serious of misfortunes affected him on the second stage. Former world champion Didier Auriol made an excellent start in his SEAT, despite having to stop twice due to a herd of cows, which dented a door. Many drivers lost time due to wandering animals, Juha Kankkunen hitting a cow.

Positions after 4 stage:
(End of first day)          Hr min sec
 1 R Burns     GB  Subaru     2:40.22
 2 J Kankunnen Fin Subaru     2:44.50
 3 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT       2:47.59
 4 P Solberg   Nor Ford       2:53.39
 5 C McRae     GB  Ford       2:53.55
 6 T Arai      Jpn Subaru     2:57.36
 7 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot    2:59.35
 8 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi 3:00.10
 9 C Sainz     Sp  Ford       3:05.15
10 A Schwarz   Ger Skoda      3:05.42

RALLYE SUNSEEKER:- Marcus Dodd will be the first driver to leave the Bournemouth start on Saturday morning as he defends the title he won last year. He will be followed out by defending Ancro Series champion Kenny McKinstry and Brian Hall, who were second and third last year. Others expected to do well are Andy Burton, who won the recent Wyedean Rally, and John Burton. Steve Petch and Warren Philliskirk are also likely to challenge.

NATIONAL SALOONS(Thruxton):- Mark Lemmer was quickest in testing in advance of the new season, which starts on March 26. The circuit benefited from having been relaid. Gavin Pyper was second fastest followed by Tobia Masini. The next testing is at Donington Park on March 15.

1 M Lemmer                1:21.881
2 G Pyper                 1:23.881
3 T Masini                1:23.896
4 M Kelly                 1:24.048
5 T Boardman              1:24.870
6 T Ferrier               1:25.133

BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP:- The Lotus Esprit V8 of Chris Ellis and Ian Astley headed the times during testing at Thruxton. They lapped the Hampshire track at almost 115mph. Second fastest was the new TVR Cerbera of Ian McKellar jr.


SAFARI RALLY:- Richard Burns maintained his lead at the end of day two and is nearly five minutes ahead of Juha Kankkunen. The Briton cemented his position when he won the opening special stage, the longest of the week at 123km. Burns said that his only problem had been "with the traffic with a minibus in the middle of the road." Colin McRae was forced to pull out during the final stage, as was Marcus Gronholm, while Freddy Loix pulled out in the penultimate stage.

Colin McRae's rally is over after he was forced out with engine trouble while in third place. The Scot could not restart his Ford Focus after getting stuck in a river where fans had made a dam and suffered his 10th retirement in 11 races. Meanwhile Gilles Panizzi has been fined $50,000 for alleged unsportsmanship. He claimed Roberto Sanchez did not let him pass as he should have and then hit a rock after being unable to see. He then confronted the Argentine.

Positions after 8 stages:
(End of day two)            Hr min sec
 1 R Burns     GB  Subaru     5:45.23
 2 J Kankunnen Fin Subaru     5:50.18
 3 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT       6:00.58
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Ford       6:06:42
 5 P Solberg   Nor Ford       6:10:18
 6 T Arai      Jpn Subaru     6:18:36
 7 A Schwarz   Ger Skoda      6:18:36
 8 L Climent   Sp  Skoda Oct  6:44:55
 9 C Menzi     Arg Mitsubishi 7:09:55
10 R Sanchez   Arg Subaru     7:20:25

RALLYE SUNSEEKER:- Marcus Dodd won the event for the second year running after finishing the 16 stages 39 second ahead of ANCRO National champion Kenny McKinstry. Brian Lyall, the 1997 National champion, was fastest on the opening stage but he left the road on the next to allow Dodd into the lead. Dodd never relinquished his advantage as he sealed his victory. Group N went to Mark Perrott in the first of two Mitsubishi Lancers. Formula 2 was won by Neil Collins.

Result after 16 stages:      hr min sec
 1 M Dodd         Subaru WRC   1:07:45
 2 K McKinstry    Subaru Imp   1:08:24
 3 V Wetton       Mitsubishi   1:10:43
 4 S Petch        Escort WRC   1:10:43
 5 W Philliskirk  MG Metro     1:10:59
 6 J Price        MG Metro     1:11:11
 7 M Perrott      Mitsubishi L 1:11:22
 8 D Mann         Mitsubishi L 1:11:41
 9 S Hendy        Escort Cos   1:13:34
10 R Holfeld      Mitsubishi L 1:13:35

PROTON COUPES:- The Proton Coupe Championship has been allocated a programme of 14 races for the 2000 campaign. Among the new drivers in the series are Ex-Formula 3000 and BTCC privateer Nigel Smith and Alex Jensen, the son of F3000 team owner and disc jockey David.

27.02.2000 - SAFARI RALLY

Britain's Richard Burns powered to glory in the Subaru Impreza, denying teammate Juha Kankkunen. Burns finished four minutes and 32 seconds ahead of Kankkunen while Didier Auriol, driving a SEAT Cordoba, was third, 22 minutes adrift of Burns. Ford pair Carlos Sainz and Petter Solberg were fourth and fifth. Tommi Makinen, whose Mitsubishi was forced to pull out on the first day, retains the lead in the world championship standings.

Richard Burns was relieved after picking up his first win of the season and sixth of his career in this rally. "To win here again is fantastic and to get a one-two with team-mate Juha Kankunnen makes it even better. Everything went just perfectly for me, the car was totally reliable and the Pirellis were amazing. I'm especially grateful to Juha for not putting any pressure on me, this was a real team effort and the whole team should be congratulated."

Final result:                hr min sec
 1 R Burns     GB  Subaru      8:33:13
 2 J Kankunnen Fin Subaru      8:37:50
 3 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT        8:55:57
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Ford        9:01:31
 5 P Solberg   Nor Ford        9:04:40
 6 T Arai      Jpn Subaru      9:18:06
 7 A Schwarz   Ger Skoda       9:32:11
 8 L Climent   Sp  Skoda       9:51:13
 9 C Menzi     Arg Mitsubishi 10:39:07
10 R Sanchez   Arg Subaru     10:57:05


BTCC:- Anthony Reid believes he is in with a chance of taking the drivers' crown in the British Touring Car Championship this season. Ford driver Reid, 40, has never won the title but said: "Testing has gone well and the new car is very impressive. "There are fewer manufacturers taking part this season but I feel that will enhance the championship because it will guarantee even more close races." The Scot is joined in the Ford line-up by Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell.

RALLYING:- Safari Rally winner Richard Burns believes that his Subaru team will be even stronger in next month's Portuguese World Championship round. Burns and team-mate Juha Kankkunen secured a one-two in Kenya on Sunday after dominating the Safari Rally. Subaru are set to unveil a new car at the Rally of Portugal on March 16, if the FIA give the team the go-ahead. "I hope the Subaru will be ready as every single part is an improvement on the present model," said Burns.

DRIVER STANDINGS               Pts
1 T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi  16
2 R Burns      GB   Subaru      12
3 J Kankkunen  Fin  Subaru      11
4 M Gronholm   Fin  Peugeot     10
5 C Sainz      Sp   Ford         9
6 C McRae      GB   Ford         4
= D Auriol     Fr   SEAT         4

1 Subaru         25 pts
2 Mitsubishi     18
3 Ford           13
4 Peugeot        11
5 SEAT            7

F3:- Elf will sponsor Renault UK's British Formula Three team in 2000. Matt Davies and Andy Priaulx will drive for the outfit, who will be known as Renault Elf Promatecme F3.

Reigning Formula Vauxhall champion Gary Paffett had a stunning British Formula Three debut test at Thruxton. Paffett, who will contest the National or Scholarship F3 class, was just 1.623 seconds behind Championship driver Antonio Pizzonia.

NEWS:- Rob Austin, 19, who was second in the 1999 Formula Renault Championship, has won the Mercury Trophy at the annual awards ceremony of the London Car Club.


F1:- Eddie Irvine believes that Michael Schumacher will end Ferrari's long wait for another drivers' title this year. Ferrari last won it in 1979 but Irvine feels Schumacher will triumph in 2000. Irvine partnered the German at the Italian team for four years before switching to Jaguar, who he says will be building towards a long-term target. "I think the gap between us and McLaren and Ferrari is just too great so we need to be looking at Jordan as our main rival this year," he said.

BTCC:- A total of 22 drivers have entered the 2000 British Touring Car Championship. The list includes three ex-champions ` Rickard Rydell, Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini but 1999 champion Laurent Aiello has moved to the German series. Reigning Michelin Cup for Independents champion Matt Neal will be out to claim back-to-back titles. There is also a new category - class B - which is for cars complying with the FIA Super Production and National Saloon Championship regulations.

2000 entry list:
 3 R Rydell      Swe Ford Team Mondeo
 4 J Thompson    GB  Team Honda Sport
 5 J Plato       GB  Vauxhall M'trsport
 6 Y Muller      Fr  Vauxhall M'trsport
 8 V Radermecker Bel Vauxhall M'trsport
 9 M Neal        GB  Team Dynamics MRT
11 A Menu        Swi Ford Team Mondeo
12 A Reid        GB  Ford Team Mondeo
18 G Tarquini    It  Team Honda Sport
45 C Blair       GB  PRO Motorsport
77 T Kristensen  Den Team Honda Sport
99 L Brookes     GB  Brookes Motorsport

2000 class B entry list:
13 A Morrison    GB  TC VIP Club
16 T Ferrier     GB  Gary Ayles Racing
20 M Nordon      GB  BSR
21 R Collard     GB  BSR
23 M Lemmer      GB  Barwell Motorsport
33 J Kaye        GB  Barwell Motorsport
43 R Cuene-Gr'dr Fr  RCG
44 G Pyper       GB  Gary Ayles Racing
48 N James       GB  Arnold James
69 D Pitcher     GB  DP

F3000:- Inter-enterprise software solution company SAP have agreed a sponsorship deal with the West McLaren Mercedes Formula 3000 team. Knutsford-based driver Kristian Kolby will contest this year's Le Mans 24-hour race for General Motors. He will be joined in the team by Frenchman Christophe Tinseau and Belgian Marc Goosens.