January 2000 Motorsport News

04.01.2000 - PARIS-DAKAR RALLY

Ex-Formula One and Le Mans driver Jacky Ickx and his daughter will be contesting this year's Paris-Dakar Rally, which begins on Thursday. The Belgian will drive a Toyota, while last year's winner Jean-Louis Schlesser will be in his Schlesser-Renault buggy. KTM and BMW are set to contest the motorcycle division and BMW's Richard Sainct admitted: "It will be tough." Despite its name, the 2000 event will actually start in Dakar and finish in Cairo on January 23.

05.01.2000 - F1

Test driver Luca Badoer continued Ferrari's build-up to the new campaign by completing a three-day test session at the team's private Fiorano circuit. He was at the wheel of a 1998 car but it was fitted with parts that are being developed for the 2000 model, which will be unveiled later this month. Ferrari's main drivers will take part in sessions in Barcelona. Rubens Barrichello will lead the way on January 8-10 and Michael Schumacher will join him from January 17-21.

06.01.2000 - PARIS-DAKAR RALLY

After stage 1: Dakar to Tambacounda:
CARS:                       Hr min sec
 1 C Sousa       Por M'tsbishi 3:24.49
 2 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 3:25.16
 3 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tsbishi 3:27.32
 4 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tsbishi 3:29.56
 5 M Prieto      Sp  M'tsbishi 3:31.11
 6 J-L Schlesser Fr  Schlesser 3:32.46
 7 S Peterhansel Fr  Mega D'st 3:33.03
 8 G de Mevius   Bel Nissan    3:33.05
 9 T de Lavergne Fr  Nissan    3:34.12
10 JM Servia     Sp  Schlesser 3:34.41

MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       3:22.46
 2 J Roma        Sp  KTM       3:23.26
 3 J Arcarons    Sp  KTM       3:24.55
 4 J Lewis       US  BMW       3:24.58
 5 F Meoni       It  KTM       3:28.30
 6 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       3:29.27
 7 K Tiainen     Fin KTM       3:30.17
 8 G Sala        It  KTM       3:32.36
 9 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       3:33.41
10 IE Pujol      Sp  KTM       3:34.09


After stage 2: Tambacounda to Kayes
CARS:                       Hr min sec
 1 S Peterhansel Fr  Mega D'st 2:03.33
 2 JM Servia     Sp  Schlesser 2:04.49
 3 J-L Schlesser Fr  Schlesser 2:05.20
 4 G de Mevius   Bel Nissan    2:05.20
 5 T de Lavergne Fr  Nissan    2:05.54
 6 B Saby        Fr  Protruck  2:06.34
 7 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tsbishi 2:06.41
 8 J Kl'inschmdt Ger M'tsbishi 2:06.49
 9 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tsbishi 2:08.23
10 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 2:09.02

1 K Shinozuka   Jpn   5:34.18
2 C Sousa       Por   5:34.43
3 H Masuoka     Jpn   5:35.55

MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 J Arcarons    Sp  KTM       2:04.18
 2 J Roma        Sp  KTM       2:04.45
 3 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       2:06.06
 4 J Lewis       US  BMW       2:09.09
 5 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       2:09.37
 6 F Meoni       It  KTM       2:09.54
 7 IE Pujol      Sp  KTM       2:11.13
 8 G Sala        It  KTM       2:11.34
 9 A Cox         SA  KTM       2:13.22
10 K Tiainen     Fin KTM       2:13.40

1 J Roma        Sp   5:28.11
2 R Sainct      Fr   5:28.52
3 J Arcarons    Sp   5:29.11

IRL:- Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt is in a serious but stable condition after undergoing surgery on a spinal injury suffered in testing. The 35-year-old was hurt in a crash at the Walt Disney Speedway in Florida.


F1:- BMW motorsport boss Gerhard Berger has warned against expecting too much too soon from the link-up between his companies engines and Williams. The former Ferrari driver told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag: "In the first year a victory or a place on the podium is not realistic. We'll have to deal with disappointments. No-one is going to do us any favours during our learning period and we'll need a thick skin."

Toranosuke Takagi has confirmed he has quit Formula One after months of speculation about his future with British-based team Arrows. Takagi has decided to race in the Japanese Formula Nippon series. "This is my decision," he said. I want to challenge for the Formula Nippon title again. I want to race to win." His position at Arrows is expected to be filled either by 1999 Formula Nippon champion Tom Coronel or former Benetton and Stewart driver Jos Verstappen.

After stage 3: Kayes to Bamako
CARS:                       Hr min sec
 1 M Plaza Perez Sp  M'tsbishi 2:58.15
 2 C Sousa       Por M'tsbishi 3:00.57
 3 H Pescarolo   Fr  Nissan    3:04.31
 4 J Riviere     Fr  Nissan    3:09.15
 5 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 3:12.38
 6 G Lora Lamia  It  Nissan    3:13.00
 7 J-P Fontenay  Fr  Pajero    3:13.52
 8 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy     3:17.37
 9 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tsbishi 3:18.05
10 X Foj         Fr  Toyota    3:19.11

1 C Sousa       Por   8:35.40
2 K Shinozuka   Jpn   8:46.56
3 J-P Fontenay  Fr    8:50.29

MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 J Roma        Sp  KTM       2:27.28
 2 F Meoni       It  KTM       2:36.32
 3 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       2:36.48
 4 A Cox         SA  KTM       2:38.21
 5 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       2:39.02
 6 G Sala        It  KTM       2:39.05
 7 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       2:44.22
 8 K Tiainen     Fin KTM       2:45.33
 9 J Deacon      US  BMW       2:49.10
10 J Lewis       US  BMW       2:50.53

1 J Roma        Sp   7:55.39
2 R Sainct      Fr   8:07.54
3 F Meoni       Sp   8:14.56


F1:- Eddie Irvine was impressed with his Jaguar as it passed its first official test in Barcelona. Irvine and teammate Johnny Herbert finished second and third respectively behind Mika Salo's Sauber. That was despite being restricted in the number of laps completed because of early-season gremlins. Irvine said: "It was my first time in the brand new car, and I'm impressed. The engine is very drivable, and there is no shortage of power."

After stage 4: Bamako to Bobo Diou'o
CARS:                       Hr min sec
 1 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tsbishi 2:20.45
 2 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy     2:20.51
 3 B Saby        Fr  Protruck  2:21.16
 4 J-M Servia    Sp  Buggy     2:21.35
 5 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan    2:21.51
 6 C Sousa       Por M'tsbishi 2:22.02
 7 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert  2:22.09
 5 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 2:22.46
 9 P Wambergue   Bel Nissan    2:22.58
10 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tsbishi 2:23.03

1 Shinozuka        10:39.42
2 Fontenay         10:44.42
3 Schlesser        10:46.34

MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 J Roma        Sp  KTM       2:27.39
 2 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       2:32.20
 3 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       2:38.15
 4 K Tiainen     Fin KTM       2:42.14
 5 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       2:42.31
 6 F Meoni       It  KTM       2:45.47
 7 J Lewis       US  BMW       2:46.34
 8 J Deacon      US  BMW       2:47.52
 9 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       2:51.33
10 PM Marques    Sp  KTM       2:51.37

1 J Roma        Sp  10:23.18
2 R Sainct      Fr  10:46.09
3 H Kinigadner  Sp  10:52.26


F1:- Williams have launched their new blue and white livery for the 2000 campaign but have only confirmed one driver - Ralf Schumacher. They are still discussing the future of Alex Zanardi, who did not earn a point in 1999, and he may not be retained. Team owner Frank Williams has admitted that he is hoping to test at least two hopefuls - Jenson Button and Bruno Junquiera - before making a decision. He will announce the driver when the car is unveiled at the end of January.

Frank Williams has revealed that he is giving Jenson Button a test because he did not want to run the risk of missing out on a possible top driver. "Everyone keeps telling me that Jenson is brilliant, now I can find out," said Williams of the 19-year-old Briton. "I remember the Belgian Grand Prix in 1991 when I was one of those caught napping by Jordan when they introduced Michael Schumacher - who was an unknown I really don't want that to happen again," added Williams.

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- British rider John Deacon abandoned his bid following a fall in which he badly injured his hand and shoulder. Deacon, who had worked his way up to 10th, fractured his hand and dislocated his shoulder midway through the 485km timed section of the fifth stage. He tried at first to carry on but gave up some 20 minutes later. Spaniard Joan Roma, winner of both weekend stages on his KTM, maintained his 23-minute lead over Frenchman Richard Sainct despite getting lost.

After stage 5: (Bobo Di'o-Ouagadougou)
CARS:                       Hr min sec
1 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy     3:55.04
2 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert  3:55.12
3 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 3:55.56
4 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tsbishi 4:01.46
5 G De Mevius   Bel Nissan    4:04.19
6 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tabishi 4:05.49

1 Shinozuka        14:35.38
2 Schlesser        14:41.38
3 Perterhansel     14:45.48

MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 J Roma        Sp  KTM       2:27.39
 2 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       2:32.20
 3 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       2:38.15
 4 K Tiainen     Fin KTM       2:42.14
 5 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       2:42.31
 6 F Meoni       It  KTM       2:45.47
 7 J Lewis       US  BMW       2:46.34
 8 J Deacon      US  BMW       2:47.52
 9 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       2:51.33
10 PM Marques    Sp  KTM       2:51.37

1 J Roma        Sp  10:23.18
2 R Sainct      Fr  10:46.09
3 H Kinigadner  Sp  10:52.26


F1:- The Williams car that is set to be used in tests in Jerez, Spain, at the weekend has become trapped in the French lorry drivers' blockade. It is stuck in a roadblock in central France and a Williams spokeswoman said: "The tests are due to start on Friday. We were hoping the car would arrive by Wednesday but will just have to wait and see what happens." Jenson Button and Bruno Junqueira are due to test the car as Williams consider their 2000 driver options.

Jenson Button has revealed that he is keeping his options open, despite being handed a test with Williams. The 19-year-old from Somerset and Brazilian Bruno Junqueiera are set to test in Jerez in Spain at the weekend as Williams weigh up their 2000 plans. Alex Zanardi's future at the team is unclear but Button said: "I have talked to several other teams as well, including Prost and Stewart. I am still thinking about what I am going to do this season."

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- Rally organisers have cancelled Wednesday's seventh stage - which was due to start at Niamey - because of a warning of terrorist threats. Organisers TSO said: "A final decision on how to orgnanise the rest of the rally will be announced soon. The rally will not start from Niamey on Wednesday. We are looking at the possibility of setting up an air lift to avoid the danger zone." Some competitors in last year's event were attacked by Mauritanian bandits.

Stage 6: (Ouagadougou to Niamey)
CARS:                       Hr min sec
 1 C Sousa       Por M'tsbishi 6:46.02
 2 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert  5:47.51
 3 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 5:49.55
 4 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy     5:50.10
 5 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy     5:53.16
 6 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tsbishi 5:53.23
 7 G De Mevius   Bel Nissan    5:55.49
 8 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tsbishi 5:57.10
 9 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan    6:00.52
10 B Saby        Fr  Protruck  6:03.36

1 Shinozuka        20:25.33
2 Schlesser        20:31.48
3 Perterhansel     20:33.39

MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       6:14.20
 2 J Roma        Sp  KTM       6:15.20
 3 P Marques     Por KTM       6:20.30
 4 IE Pujol      Sp  KTM       6:23.46
 5 J Brucy       Fr  BMW       6:23.57
 6 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       6:25.43
 7 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       6:29.56
 8 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       6:31.51
 9 M Farrajota   Por KTM       6:32.17
10 F Flick       Fr  KTM       6:38.50

1 J Roma        Sp  20:52.43
2 R Sainct      Fr  21:15.05
3 H Kinigadner  Sp  21:36.14


F1:- New Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello has insisted that he will start the 2000 season on an equal footing with team-mate Michael Schumacher. The Brazilian said: "If I have a chance to win in the opening race they will allow me to win. If Michael has 20 points more than me halfway through the championship then clearly I will help him. We will have the same equipment, the same car, the same engine. Clearly I am racing to win."

Australian Mark Webber had his second outing in an Arrows in a testing session at Silverstone on Wednesday.

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- The rally will now be restarted on Tuesday and not Monday following the cancellation of the stages that were due to be held in Niger. Rally organisers abandoned the stages after French and American security forces warned of a terrorist threat. Teams and equipment will now be airlifted to Libya, where the event will continue. Around 1,500 people, 150 cars, 127 motorcycles and 64 trucks will need to be transported to Libya.

SPORTSCARS:- Ex-Formula One champion Mario Andretti will come out of retirement at the age of 60 to compete in this year's Le Mans 24-Hour race. He quit full-time racing at the end of 1994 and said: "I am talking to two top-line teams."

KART CHALLENGE:- CART runner-up Dario Franchitti and former Le Mans winner Allan McNish will head the Elf Media Kart Challenge at the NEC Autosport International show. Jenson Button will also be at the NEC in Birmingham for Thursday's event.

F.FORD:- Gary Turkington has joined forces with ex-Formula One driver Martin Donnelly for the 2000 season. The Ulster-based 18-year-old has signed with the MDR (Anglia) team run by Donnelly to race in the Slick 50 Formula Ford Zetec Championship.


F1:- The Minardi team will use engines developed by Fondmetal next season. The decision follows the move by previous supplier Ford to supply only the Stewart team. Minardi have also confirmed Spaniard Marc Gene as their lead driver, but they have yet to decide who will drive as his partner. A decision is expected by the end of the month, with Brazilian Max Wilson or Argentina's Norberto Fontana expected to be named.

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- The massive airlift continued on Thursday with 2,500 tonnes of equipment and over 370 competitors' vehicles set to be transported to Libya. The stages in Niger were cancelled after a terrorist threat and the race was suspended. Due to delays in getting the aircraft involved, the race will not now resume until next Tuesday instead of Monday. Niger was due to host four rally stages as well as a rest day on the way to the scheduled January 23 finish in Cairo.

NEWS:- Silverstone's 2000 programme features several changes including the moving of the British Grand Prix to Easter and the Silverstone 500 returning in May. American Le Mans Series prototype sportscars will race on the circuit in their only UK round at that event.

NEWS:- Nicola Foulston has resigned as chief executive of BHL PLC and chairman of the Brands Hatch Leisure Group.

F3:- Andy Priaulx has signed for Renault UK and will drive for Promatecme in this year's British Formula 3 championship. "I wouldn't want to be with any other team. It's a professional team with a huge motivation to win," he said.


F1:- Jenson Button's hopes of sealing a Formula One spot with Williams next season suffered an early blow in his first test session at Jerez on Friday. The teenager failed to register a single timed lap because of rain and problems with his BMW. The team may now ask him to take part in the official session in Barcelona next week. He is battling with Brazil's Bruno Junqueira for the right to become Ralf Schumacher's partner next season.

British American Racing have appointed Don Brown as non-executive chairman of the holdings company and Rick Gorne as motorsport development director. The team also confirmed Craig Pollock is staying on as managing director.

RALLYING; SEAT UK has announced it is to continue to support the Jim Clark Memorial Rally this year.

F3000:- McLaren have signed Czech rider Tomas Enge to compete in their 3000 team for this season. Justin Wilson has signed with Nordic Racing to compete in Formula 3000 for a second year. As 1998 Formula Palmer Audi champion Wilson won Britain's biggest ever motorsport prize of a fully-funded season in F3000.

15.01.2000 - PARIS-DAKAR RALLY

(2000 event is from Dakar to Cairo)
Stage 6 (Ouagadougou to Niamey)
CARS:                       Hr min sec
 1 C Sousa       Por M'tsbishi 6:46.02
 2 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert  5:47.51
 3 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi 5:49.55
 4 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy     5:50.10
 5 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy     5:53.16
 6 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tsbishi 5:53.23
 7 G De Mevius   Bel Nissan    5:55.49
 8 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tsbishi 5:57.10
 9 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan    6:00.52
10 B Saby        Fr  Protruck  6:03.36

1 Shinozuka        20:25.33
2 Schlesser        20:31.48
3 Perterhansel     20:33.39

Stage 6 (Ouagadougou to Niamey)
MOTORCYCLES                 Hr min sec
 1 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       6:14.20
 2 J Roma        Sp  KTM       6:15.20
 3 P Marques     Por KTM       6:20.30
 4 IE Pujol      Sp  KTM       6:23.46
 5 J Brucy       Fr  BMW       6:23.57
 6 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       6:25.43
 7 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM       6:29.56
 8 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       6:31.51
 9 M Farrajota   Por KTM       6:32.17
10 F Flick       Fr  KTM       6:38.50

1 J Roma        Sp  20:52.43
2 R Sainct      Fr  21:15.05
3 H Kinigadner  Sp  21:36.14


F1:- British American Racing have completed a three-day test at Jerez as they bid to put the poor performance in last year's debut season behind them. Ricardo Zonta achieved 107 laps of the 4.40km track on the final day - the most done by a BAR car in one session. Honda spokesman Robert Watherston said: "We have done 300 laps in total - the equivalent of nearly 1500km." Zonta added: "We have learned a lot here, especially in terms of gearbox development, but it has been tiring."

SALOON CARS:- Roger Moen has signed up for the 2000 Silverstone Insurance National Saloon Championship in a Stratstone Motorsport Peugeot 306GTi6s. The former BTCC driver will commute from Norway for each race. Tom Ferrier and Gavin Pyper have been signed to race Alfa Romeos for the Gary Ayles Racing Team in the series. Eight manufacturers and more than 30 cars - covering 10 different models - will compete in the Championship.


F1:- Young British driver Jenson Button will have another chance to impress Williams chiefs when he has a test session on Wednesday, his 20th birthday. Button goes into his second try-out for Williams in Barcelona boosted by his impressive showing in Jerez on Sunday. He was hailed as a future star by Williams' technical director Patrick Head: "Jenson did a very good job and is remarkably mature," Head commented. Button said: "I hope to continue with what has been an invaluable experience"

Bosses of Italian team Benetton hoped for better fortune as they unveiled their new B200 car for the 2000 season. Benetton, who also announced they have signed Japan's Hidetoshi Mitsusada as their official test driver, have fallen down the rankings in recent seasons. But team chief Rocco Benetton said: "We are starting this season determined to put the difficult times of the past few years behind us. 1999 was a tough season and the team was disappointed with our performance."

Stage 11 (Sabha to Waw-el-Kebir)
CARS:                       hr min sec
 1 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tsbishi  57.24
 2 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan     58.23
 3 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tsbishi  58.53
 4 G De Mevius   Bel Nissan     59.17
 5 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy      59.29
 = S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert   59.29
 7 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'tsbishi  59.34
 8 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy    1:00.29
 9 B Saby        Fr  Protruck 1:00.45
10 C Sousa       Por M'tbishi 1:00.54

1 Shinozuka        21:25.07
2 Schlesser        21:32.17
3 Perterhansel     21:33.08

MOTORCYCLES                 hr min sec
 1 H Kinigadner  Aut KTM         57.23
 2 J Roma        Sp  KTM         59.57
 3 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       1:00.36
 4 J Lewis       US  BMW       1:00.38
 5 J Mayer       Ger KTM       1:01.16
 6 A Cox         SA  KTM       1:02.49
 7 E Verhoef     Hol KTM       1:02.54
 8 J Gouveias    Brz KTM       1:03.11
 9 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       1:04.14
10 B Vilar       Por KTM       1:05.32

1 J Roma        Sp  21:52.40
2 R Sainct      Fr  22:15.41
3 H Kinigadner  Sp  22:33.37


F1:- McLaren have agreed a sponsorship deal with Deutsche Telekom MobilNet GmbH, who operate a mobile communications network in Europe.

RALLY OF MONTE CARLO:- The Principality of Monaco kicks off the 2000 World Championship on Thursday in what promises to be one of the most closely-fought seasons for years. Mitsubishi's Tommi Makinen will be aiming to clinch an unprecedented fifth world title but Ford and Subaru both have strong line-ups. The Rally of Monte Carlo will be decided over 15 special stages. After leaving Casino Square, the drivers will have two overnight stops in Gap before finishing on Saturday.

The Rally of Monte Carlo, which runs from Thursday to Saturday, consists of 15 special stages totalling 412km. Leg one starts from Casino Square and contains five stages totalling 112.83km and the second leg begins in Gap and is also made up of five stages. The longest stage is the eighth stage, which totals 48.55km, and the average stage length of almost 27.50km is one of the highest in the series. Leg three contains the Sisteron-Thoard test, which is usually a key stage.

World champion Tommi Makinen will be bidding to repeat his 1999 triumph in Monaco but knows that the 2000 opener will present a testing challenge. The event runs from Thursday to Saturday and the Finn said: "Monte Carlo is always a very difficult rally and you never know what can happen. We have done a lot of testing, in France and in Lapland, and I think we have some good solutions. The car is very nice to drive and I am looking forward to it."

Britain's Richard Burns is one of the favourites to land the 2000 crown after clinching the runner-up spot last year. Tommi Makinen took the honours in the World Championship but Burns was named International Rally Driver of the Year at the Autosport awards. The respected Rallycourse publication also chose him as driver of the year. Burns will drive the Subaru Impreza WRC99 - with the revolutionary fly-by-wire transmission - and a revised car is set for a debut in round four.

Subaru star Richard Burns knows that tyre decisions are crucial in the Rally of Monte Carlo. "This rally is won by the person who makes the least mistakes," said Burns. "Getting tyres right is crucial but we have done some good testing with Pirelli and things are looking good. As far as the championship goes, I have certainly got high expectations. However, I am just concentrating on getting the points at the moment."

The Rally of Monte Carlo could be seen as former world champion Colin McRae's home round. The Scot lives in Monaco but he has revealed that the event is not one of his favourites on the calendar. "Everything is so unpredictable," he commented. "The special stages themselves are not difficult. The constantly changing conditions, where the roads can be snowy and icy on one side of a mountain and bone dry on the other, make it hard."

Colin McRae is hoping he can push for the title with the Ford Focus after its debut last season eventually turned into a campaign of consolidation. This year's car will have a re-profiled front bumper and rear wing and there is also a new turbo and anti-lag system, together with a revised transmission. "It is difficult to form an accurate opinion of its capabilities until you drive it on a rally," admitted McRae. "Our test in France earlier this month on similar roads was encouraging."

Carlos Sainz has taken the spoils in the Rally of Monte Carlo three times but goes into the 2000 campaign as the new boy with the Ford Martini team. The Spaniard claimed: "My target for the rally is to get more experience with the car and the ideal situation would be to finish and to score points. A podium would be fantastic. It will be important to develop a good feeling straight away. If I am confident with the car from the beginning it will be much easier."

Subaru's Juha Kankkunen was second in Monte Carlo last year and is banking on going one better this time around. The four-times world champion confirmed: "I think I am better prepared for this year's event than I was last year. I have had more time with the team for testing and I know the car much better now but this rally is not easy. The conditions are always changing - one minute it will be icy, then half an hour later it has melted."

Freddy Loix and co-driver Sven Smeets believe they are ready for the rally after covering hundreds of kilometres while testing their Carisma GT. Belgian Loix said: "The testing has been very good - a real help. On ice the car was already going quite well for my style but now we have done a big step on tarmac as well. I will start from a much better base than last year but with Monte Carlo the most important thing is that you have some luck."

Didier Auriol has switched to SEAT for 2000 following his former team Toyota's decision to pull out of the series. SEAT are expecting a lot from the 1994 world champion and the Frenchman conceded: "This year's Monte Carlo event will be very different for me. It will be with a new car, a new team and new tyres. Pre-season testing has gone well and I believe we have achieved the best we can for the moment but the Cordoba WRC E2 is quite an easy car to drive."

This season will herald a campaign where Toni Gardemeister will contest every round of the World Championship. "My first target is to try and score points by finishing each rally in the top six," said the SEAT driver. "I know that will be difficult but I am greatly motivated and I am very confident in the car and with the team. The Cordoba has great potential. There are more improvements to be made but I am happy with the work we have done in such a short space of time."

Peugeot will compete in their first full World Championship campaign since the 1986 season. They made selected outings last year and were hit by reliability problems, particularly with transmissions. The team will be hoping that the 206's new electro-hydraulic gearchange mechanism, which is similar to that on a Toyota Corolla, works well. Francois Delecour and Gilles Panizzi will drive for points and Marcus Gronholm will be in a third car.

Skoda will be aiming to build on last season's fourth place in the Rally of Great Britain - the best World Championship result for the Octavia. Team manager of Skoda Motorsport Pavel Janeba revealed: "We still have much hard, detailed work ahead in developing the car into a regular front-runner. Of course, this will be another year for the team to improve." Armin Schwarz will head the team's bid and he added: "Our winter testing has gone well and I am very optimistic."

Luis Climent and co-driver Alex Romani have joined Skoda after ending the 1999 World Championship as the top independent entrants. They have already impressed team-mate Armin Schwarz, who said: "I have been surprised to see how quickly Luis has adapted to the car." Climent himself has been pleased with the team and said: "I am delighted to have been given this opportunity. My first impressions of the Octavia have all been very favourable."

Hyundai will give a debut to the Accent WRC in Monaco. Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae will drive in 12 of the 14 rounds in what will be an introductory season. Toyota may have withdrawn from the championship but Cologne-based Toyota Team Europe are still supplying cars to private teams. Bruno Thiry will drive a Corolla entered by Italy's Grifone Team and Henrik Lundgaard and Oliver Burri will  compete in privately-entered vehicles.

WRC nominated entries:
T Makinen/R Mannisenmaki    Mitsubishi
F Loix/S Smeets             Mitsubishi
R Burns/R Reid              Subaru
J Kankkunen/J Repo          Subaru
C McRae/N Grist             Ford
C Sainz/L Moya              Ford
D Auriol/D Giraudet         SEAT
T Gardemeister/P Lukander   SEAT
F Delecour/D Grataloup      Peugeot
G Panizzi/H Panizzi         Peugeot
A Schwarz/M Heimer          Skoda
L Climent/A Romani          Skoda

Stage 12 (Waw-el-Kebir to Waha)
CARS:                       hr min sec
 1 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy    5:10.34
 2 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy    5:19.54
 3 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert 5:19.44
 4 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'bishi  5:21.40
 5 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'bishi  5:25.36
 6 B Saby        Fr  Protruck 5:27.09
 7 G De Mevius   Bel Nissan   5:39.07
 8 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi  5:31.14
 9 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan   5:31.52
10 C Sousa       Por M'bishi  5:33.02

1 Schlesser        26:42.51
2 Perterhansel     26:52.52
3 Shinozuka        26:56.21

Stage 12 (Waw-el-Kebir to Waha)
MOTORCYCLES                 hr min sec
 1 A Cox         SA  KTM       5:54.15
 2 J Mayer       Ger KTM       5:55.23
 3 J Lewis       US  BMW       5:56.14
 4 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       5:57.15
 5 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       5:57.24
 6 J Roma        Sp  KTM       5:58.16
 7 J Brucy       Fr  BMW       6:19.20
 8 E Verhoef     Hol KTM       6:20.33
 9 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       6:20.42
10 C Beneke      Lux Yamaha    6:23.39

1 Roma             27:50.56
2 Sainct           28:12.56
3 Gallardo         28:58.17


F1:- Williams have played down reports that Jenson Button has signed up for 2000. German paper Bild claimed that Button, who is testing with Williams, would replace Alex Zanardi on a one-year deal with an option for two more years. A Williams spokeswoman said: "Jenson and Bruno Junqueira will be evaluated and we will decide which one of them will probably drive for us in 2001. Alex is still under contract. The team might still decide he is out and then Jenson or Bruno would replace him."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen has given Jordan's new car for the 2000 campaign a successful shakedown at Silverstone. The EJ10 was given a full systems check on day one of a three-day session at the circuit. Frentzen will take the initial tests and his new team-mate Jarno Trulli will join in later this month. The EJ10 is made up of the initials of team owner and chairman Eddie Jordan combined with the number of years that Jordan have been in Formula One.

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- Portugal's Carlos Sousa and his co-driver Joao Manuel Luz have been seriously hurt in a four-car smash early on the 13th stage. The duo are in a critical condition. Six other competitors were injured. In a statement, the organisers said: "The four cars seem to have jumped over a dune at high speed and landed violently on the other side." France's Stephane Peterhansel won the stage. Compatriot Jean-Louis Schlesser retains the overall lead.

Stage 13 (Waha to Khofra)
CARS:                       hr min sec
 1 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert 4:25.13
 2 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy    4:26.18
 2 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy    4:28.32
 4 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tbishi 4:28.34
 5 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tbishi 4:31.30
 6 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan   4:35.59
 7 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tbishi 4:46.46
 8 H Pescarolo   Fr  Nissan   4:49.45
 9 P Wambergue   Bel Nissan   4:50.33
10 J-P Strugo    Fr  Mercedes 5:00.48

1 Schlesser        31:09.09
2 Peterhansel      31:18.05
3 Fontenay         31:35.28

MOTORCYCLES                 hr min sec
 1 J Lewis       US  BMW       5:02.05
 2 A Cox         SA  KTM       5:02.07
 3 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       5:02.13
 4 J Brucy       Fr  BMW       5:02.56
 5 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       5:02.57
 6 J Roma        Sp  KTM       5:02.58
 7 J Mayer       Ger KTM       5:15.19
 8 A Mayer       Ger BMW       5:22.19
 9 E Verhoef     Hol KTM       5:25.55
10 M Maccaferri  It  Yamaha    5:30.36

1 Roma             32:53.54
2 Sainct           33:15.53
3 Gallardo         34:00.30


F1:- Jenson Button's bid to earn himself a Formula One drive was again hit by technical troubles in Barcelona. Button and Brazil's Bruno Junqueira, his rival for the vacant Williams seat, were unable to race on the second day of their decisive shoot-out. The team are now considering extending the test to Saturday before announcing the second driver when the car is officially launched in Spain on Monday. Williams, meanwhile, have denied claims that they have already signed Button.

RENAULT CLIO’S:- Simon Clarke and Mark Burton will drive for Goodliff Superteam in the Elf Renaultsport Clio UK Cup in 2000.

RALLY OF MONTE CARLO:- Richard Burns enjoyed a good first day, lying second to reigning champion Tommi Makinen after the first five stages. Makinen completed the stages in just over an hour and 22 minutes, with Burns just over 12 seconds adrift. Burns had gone into the lead after the second stage, but Makinen posted two fastest times to move in front. However, it was a bad day for Colin McRae, who was more than two and a half minutes behind Makinen in seventh after tyre and suspension problems.

Richard Burns was delighted to be lying second to Tommi Makinen at the end of the first day. "I am very happy with the way things have gone today," Burns said. "I haven't had any problems at all and the Subaru has been great. It's a good position, especially as this is only the third time I have done this rally. It was difficult at times with the ice on the roads and I have had to put a lot of faith in my notes, but they have been perfect."

Colin McRae was philosophical after problems saw him finish the first day in seventh spot. "It's been a tough day as always on this rally and we have had a few difficulties with the steering rack on the car," he said. "There is too much free-play and the car moves around a lot which does not do a lot for the confidence. But we are in a good position bearing in mind that the rally has not really started in terms of mileage."

Positions after 5 stages:    hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 1:22.34.1
 2 R Burns     GB  Subaru        @ 12.3
 3 G Panizzi   Fr  Peugeot       @ 30.6
 4 C Sainz     Sp  Ford        @ 1:51.1
 5 F Delecour  Fr  Peugeot     @ 2:04.9
 6 T G'meister Fin SEAT        @ 2:21.4
 7 C McRae     GB  Ford        @ 2:31.8
 8 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru      @ 2:35.2
 9 B Thiry     Bel Toyota      @ 2:53.5
10 M Gronholm  Fin Peugeot     @ 3:24.2

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- The two Portuguese drivers injured on stage 13 are being treated in hospital, one in a serious condition, hospital officials and race organisers said. Carlos Sousa and Joao Manuel Luz were transferred from Tunis to the Beaujon Hospital in Paris where they were "conscious and able to communicate." Both men have undergone surgery, Luz described as "serious," while Sousa has been downgraded to "satisfactory." Spaniard Jose Maria Servia took victory on the 14th stage.

Stage 14 (Khofra to Dakhla)
CARS:                       hr min sec
 1 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy    6:32.43
 2 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy    6:32.47
 3 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert 6:37.07
 4 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tbishi 6:38.16
 5 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tbishi 6:45.38
 6 T De Lavergne Fr  Nissan   6:46.44
 7 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tbishi 6:51.56
 8 P Wambergue   Bel Nissan   6:59.36
 9 B Saby        Fr  Protruck 7:07.55
10 R Altimir     Sp  Nissan   7:13.01

1 Schlesser        37:41.56
2 Peterhansel      37:55.12
3 Fontenay         38:13.44

MOTORCYCLES                 hr min sec
 1 J Lewis       US  BMW       7:09.24
 = O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       7:09.24
 3 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       7:09.32
 4 J Brucy       Fr  BMW       7:19.43
 5 J Mayer       Ger KTM       7:33.17
 6 E Verhoef     Hol KTM       7:50.47
 7 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       7:51.30
 8 J Gouveia     Brz KTM       7:51.32
 9 F Flick       Fr  KTM       7:51.34
10 B Vilar       Por KTM       7:54.45

1 Sainct           40:25.25
2 Gallardo         41:09.54
3 Lewis            41:32.25


F1:- The Williams team have confirmed that Alex Zanardi will not be driving for them in the upcoming season. Zanardi failed to register a point last season and Williams said the decision followed "a difficult 1999 season for Alex and Williams." His departure confirms that Jenson Button could be set to make the move to Forumla One. The young British driver has been testing in Barcelona. The other candidate is Brazil's Bruno Janqueira.

RALLY OF MONTE CARLO:- Richard Burns' hopes of a hat-trick of victories were shattered when the rally resumed in the French Alps. Burns, lying second after the first day, was forced to abandon his challenge to leader Tommi Makinen when his Subaru failed to start. Gilles Panizzi also bowed out when his car was one of three Peugeots which also failed to start. Colin McRae was in fourth place at the end of the day, two minutes, 32.7 seconds behind leader Makinen.

Richard Burns, forced out of the event by technical problems, is looking forward to a new duel against Tommi Makinen in the Swedish Rally. "I'm bitterly disappointed to give up before the start of a beautiful battle with Tommi," said Burns. "I had a lot of confidence, I was sure to do well. I will now concentrate on the Swedish Rally." The second leg of the world in championship takes place from February 10 to 13.

Colin McRae is upbeat about his chances after finishing in fourth place at the end of the 10th stage. "I felt confident going into those last two stages knowing that I'd been quickest on both last year," he said. "We are only 17 seconds behind Toni Gardemeister and we'll be putting plenty of pressure on him tomorrow. I'm fairly happy that if we can avoid problems we'll overtake him. If Carlos maintains his pace it would be great if both Ford's could be on the podium."

Positions after 10 stages:   hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 2:45.24.0
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford       @  1.50.5
 3 T G'meister Fin SEAT       @  2.15.8
 4 C McRae     GB  Ford       @  2.32.7
 5 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru     @  3.03.2
 6 B Thiry     Bel Toyota     @  4.11.3
 7 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi @  5.11.6
 8 D Auriol    Fr  SEAT       @  6.35.2
 9 O Burri     Swi Toyota     @  6.55.2
10 H Lundgaard Den Toyota     @  8.05.7

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- Leading contenders Jean-Louis Schlesser and Stephane Peterhansel posted identical times on the 15th stage to maintain their first and second places. Jean-Pierre Fontenay won the stage, two minutes 41 seconds ahead of the pair, moving within half an hour of the overall lead. Meanwhile in the motorcycling event, Richard Sainct is close to victory. He has a lead of just over 45 minutes over Oscar Gollardo. Esteve Pujol won the stage.

Stage 15 (around Dakhla, Egypt)
CARS:                       hr min sec
 1 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tbishi 3:02.52
 2 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tbishi 3:04.14
 3 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tbishi 3:05.11
 4 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert 3:05.33
 5 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy    3:05.33
 6 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy    3:07.55
 7 B Saby        Fr  Protruck 3:20.04
 8 J Ickx        Fr  Toyota   3:25.49
 9 H Pescarolo   Fr  Nissan   3:27.16
10 L Bourgnon    Fr  Nissan   3:30.40

1 Schlesser        40:47.29
2 Peterhansel      41:00.45
3 Fontenay         41:16.36

MOTORCYCLES                 hr min sec
 1 J Lewis       US  BMW       7:09.24
 = O Gallardo    Sp  BMW       7:09.24
 3 R Sainct      Fr  BMW       7:09.32
 4 J Brucy       Fr  BMW       7:19.43
 5 J Mayer       Ger KTM       7:33.17
 6 E Verhoef     Hol KTM       7:50.47
 7 E Bernard     Fr  KTM       7:51.30
 8 J Gouveia     Brz KTM       7:51.32
 9 F Flick       Fr  KTM       7:51.34
10 B Vilar       Por KTM       7:54.45

1 Sainct           40:25.25
2 Gallardo         41:09.54
3 Lewis            41:32.25


RALLY OF MONTE CARLO:- Colin McRae's hopes of finally bringing an end to his rally misery were cruelly dashed when his engine failed on the final stage. The 31-year-old was just 12 miles away from a certain third place when the Ford Focus' reliability problems that hampered him last season struck again. It means the Scot has now failed to finish in nine successive rallies. Reigning champion Tommi Makinen cruised to victory ahead of McRae's Ford team- mate Carlos Sainz.

Colin McRae's was distraught after his Ford Focus' engine failure cost him a third place finish. The Scot, who suffered with technical problems throughout last season, said: "I am gutted. Third place would have been an excellent start for me. I had hoped that the new year would bring a change of luck but it's clear me and good luck go together. The engine started misfring and when the oil warning light came on I knew that was it. All I could do was park."

Winner Tommi Makinen was thrilled to get the defence of his world title off to the perfect start. The Finn, who set six fastest times out of a possible 16, said: "It's great to start the new season with a win. I could drive cautiously considering my large lead and I wanted to be careful because of the large crowd." His co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki admitted retirements helped their cause and added: "Before that we had to work but after only had to stay motivated."

Final positions after 15 stages:hr min sec
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 4:23.35.8
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford       @ 25.00.7
 3 J Kankkunen Fin Subaru     @ 26.57.2
 4 T G'meister Fin SEAT       @ 27.20.9
 5 B Thiry     Bel Toyota     @ 28.24.2
 6 F Loix      Bel Mitsubishi @ 30.39.9
 7 A Schwarz   Ger Skoda      @ 33.24.1
 8 O Burri     Swi Toyota     @ 34.17.2
 9 M Stoh      Aut Mitsubishi @ 44.17.6
10 L Climent   Sp  Skoda      @ 44.25.3

DRIVER STANDINGS               Pts
1 T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi  10
2 C Sainz      Sp   Ford         6
3 J Kankkunen  Fin  Subaru       4
4 T G'meister  Fin  SEAT         3
5 B Thiry      Bel  Toyota       2
6 F Loix       Bel  Mitsubishi   1

1 Mitsubishi     12
2 Ford            6
3 Subaru          4
4 SEAT            3
5 Skoda           1

Harri Rovanpera will drive a SEAT in the next round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Swedish Rally. The only snow rally in the Championship takes place from February 11-13.

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- Jean-Louis Schlesser and Richard Sainct looked set to repeat their 1999 triumphs after maintaining comfortable overall leads in the penultimate stage. Schlesser was content to keep his nearest rival, Stephane Peterhansel in check, finishing fifth behind stage winner Hiroshi Masuoka. In the motorcycle section, Joan Roma took victory ahead of Alfie Cox. But last year's winner, Sainct leads teammate Oscar Gallardo by nearly 23 minutes in the overall standings.

Stage 16 (from Dakhla to Wadi Rayan)
CARS:                       hr min sec
 1 H Masuoka     Jpn M'tbishi 4:09.00
 2 JM Servia     Sp  Buggy    4:11.08
 3 J-P Fontenay  Fr  M'tbishi 4:13.18
 4 S Perterhan'l Fr  M Desert 4:13.47
 5 J-L Schlesser Fr  Buggy    4:14.49
 6 J Kleinsch't  Ger M'tbishi 4:24.48
 7 B Saby        Fr  Protruck 4:29.10
 8 M P Perez     Sp  M'tbishi 4:48.27
 9 T Charbonnier Fr  Mercedes 4:52.50
10 R V Atimir    Sp  Nissan   4:52.58

1 Schlesser        45:02.18
2 Peterhansel      45:14.32
3 Fontenay         45:29.54

MOTORCYCLES                 hr min sec
 1 J Roma        Sp  KTM      4:28.19
 2 A Cox         SA  KTM      4:39.44
 3 S Lundmark    Swe KTM      4:41.11
 4 J Lewis       US  BMW      4:45.50
 5 I E-Pujol     Sp  KTM      4:48.39
 6 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW      4:48.41
 7 R Sainct      Fr  BMW      5:01.09
 8 J Brucy       Fr  BMW      5:03.11
 9 E Barnard     Fr  KTM      5:06.48
10 P Marques     Por KTM      5:13.01

1 Sainct           49:04.32
2 Gallardo         49:37.20
3 Lewis            49:58.00


F1:- Williams BMW are expected to unveil Jenson Button as their second driver for the 2000 campaign on Monday. It will make the Somerset-born 20-year- old the youngest British Formula One driver in history. He and Bruno Junqueira tested for the team in Barcelona but it is Button who is set to replace Alex Zanardi, who left Williams last Friday. Button was slightly faster than the Brazilian in testing, clocking one minute, 23.34 seconds in his best lap.

March 12 Australian GP, Melbourne
March 26 Brazilian GP, São Paulo
April 9  San Marino GP, Imola
April 23 British GP, Silverstone
May 7    Spanish GP, Barcelona
May 21   European GP, Nurburgring
June 4   Monaco GP, Monte Carlo
June 18  Canadian GP, Montreal
July 2   French GP, Magny-Cours
July 16  Austrian GP, Spielberg
July 30  German GP, Hockenheim
Aug 13   Hungarian GP, Budapest
Aug 27   Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps
Sept 10  Italian GP, Monza
Sept 24  American GP, Indianapolis
Oct 8    Japanese GP, Suzuka
Oct 22   Malaysian GP, Kuala Lumpur

RALLYING:- Ford chief Malcolm Wilson believes Colin McRae can put his Monte Carlo misery behind him and go on to win the world championship. Scot McRae did not finish the opening round of 2000 because of engine failure on the final stage. Wilson said: "It was devastating what happened to Colin but he is definitely a contender for the championship. There are 14 rounds and though Colin has not scored on this one he is still in there."

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- Jean-Louis Schlesser and Richard Sainct surged to glory in the event - a repeat of the 1999 result. Schlesser and co-driver Henri Magne won the car section, while Sainct took the honours in the motorcycle section. The 17-stage, 11,000km event - which was interrupted by an airlift in Niger because of terrorist threats - finished at the Giza pyramids in Cairo. Sainct opened a bottle of champagne and said: "It is a beautiful victory for me and my team."

Stage 17 (from Wadi Rayan to Cairo)
CARS:                         hr min
 1 JM Servia       Sp  Buggy    3:34
 2 J Kleinschmidt  Ger M'tbishi 3:38
 3 J-P Fontenay    Fr  M'tbishi 3:42
 4 H Masuoka       Jpn M'tbishi 3:44
 5 J-L Schlesser   Fr  Buggy    3:45
 6 B Saby          Fr  Protruck 3:54
 7 H Pescarolo     Fr  Nissan   4:00
 8 S Perterhansel  Fr  M Desert 4:04
 9 T de Lavergne   Sp  M'tbishi 4:07
10 B Hanciaux      Fr  Nissan   4:24

1 Schlesser        45:06.03
2 Peterhansel      45:18.36
3 Fontenay         45:33.36

MOTORCYCLES                 hr min
 1 J Roma        Sp  KTM      3:22
 2 H Knuiman     Hol KTM      3:24
 3 E Bernard     Fr  KTM      3:24
 4 J Lewis       US  BMW      3:25
 5 M Farrajota   Por KTM      3:27
 6 S Lundmark    Swe KTM      3:29
 7 O Gallardo    Sp  BMW      3:30
 8 P Quinonero   Fr  KTM      3:31
 9 IE Pujol      Sp  KTM      3:31
10 J Mayer       Ger KTM      3:32

1 Sainct           49:08.56
2 Gallardo         49:40.50
3 Lewis            50:01.25


F1:- Williams BMW have confirmed that Jenson Button has been handed the chance to drive for them in the 2000 campaign. It means the Somerset-born 20-year-old will become the youngest British Formula One driver in history. He and Bruno Junqueira tested for the team in Barcelona but Button won the race to replace Alex Zanardi, who left Williams last Friday. Button has been given a one-year deal to partner Ralf Schumacher for the new season, which starts on March 12.

Jenson Button could hardly contain his excitement after being told he had landed a dream drive with Williams. He said: "I'm still on cloud nine - the last 45 minutes have been amazing - difficult to explain because I've never experienced anything like that before. I am sure I am ready for Formula One. I think this is going to be an interesting year for me." Team chief Frank Williams said: "We went for Jenson because of the long-term. He has outstanding potential."

Jenson Button has ensured that there will again be four British drivers on the starting grid next season. After Damon Hill's retirement, Button's elevation to the Williams team means he will join Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert in the sport. Button, 20, was third in last year's British Formula Three Championship. He will be the youngest ever British Formula One star, with Peter Collins the previous youngest when he made his debut in 1952 aged 20 and 193 days.

British American Racing will look on the 2000 campaign as a fresh start after their disappointing 1999 debut. At the London launch of their new car, managing director Craig Pollock said: "Our distinctive new look shows that the 2000 season marks a fresh start. We are embarking on a very exciting partnership with Honda. Working with a company that has such an engineering-led, results-oriented approach has had a positive effect on everyone at Brackley."

Williams BMW have secured financial backing from computer firm Compaq to break free from tobacco endorsement. This is hailed as the first non-tobacco industry principal sponsorship of a championship pedigree team in the 50-year history of Formula One. Compaq will provide technological help with future car designs, performance enhancement and better race analysis. Williams BMW have also revealed that Jenson Button will drive for them in the 2000 season.

F3000:- Mario Haberfeld and Andreas Scheld will drive for Fortec in the Formula 3000 Championship this year. Haberfeld, who won the 1998 British Formula Three Championship, joins the team after making his Formula 3000 debut last season. Scheld had been racing in the German STW Championship. "I have set my sights on winning the championship, although it is hard to say if I can as there are so many different factors," said Haberfeld.

MGF CUP:- The MGF Cup is set to have at least 25 cars on the grid for the opening race of the season at Thruxton on March 26. This year one extra championship point will be awarded to the driver who sets the fastest qualifying practice lap during the final qualifying session.


F1:- Jackie Stewart has stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of Jaguar Racing. Three-times world champion Stewart announced his decision at the launch of the new Jaguar car in London. The 60-year-old Scot says that he wants to spend more time with his wife Helen and their family. Stewart and his son Paul set up the Stewart team and their F1 debut came in 1997. Ford took over Stewart last year and have renamed the team Jaguar.

Jackie Stewart has insisted that he will still work for Jaguar and attend races, despite standing down as chairman and chief executive officer. He said: "For the last four years I have been working harder than at any time in my life. I am not running away. I will attend most of the races. I will still be at tests but will not be doing the same number of hours that I have been doing. It will give me more time with my grandchildren and the lovely Helen."

Ford Motor Company vice-president Neil Ressler will take over as chairman of Jaguar Racing from Jackie Stewart. The company will not be appointing a chief executive officer but Stewart's son Paul will continue as chief operations officer. Stewart was set up in 1996 and the team won their first grand prix through Johnny Herbert last season. Meanwhile, Jaguar have agreed a long-term sponsorship deal with Beck & Co - the German export brewery.

Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine has admitted that he is impressed with the new car. Irvine, who has joined the team from Ferrari, confirmed: "I was surprised how good it felt straight out of the box. I was very impressed. It is neat, tidy and light and has a great engine. The guys have got the difficult things right. It feels very comfortable and is less of a strain on my back. I am a lucky guy. I had four years at Ferrari and have now come to Jaguar."

Johnny Herbert believes Jaguar can carry on where the team - then known as Stewart-Ford - left off last season. After being hit by misfortune early on in 1999, Herbert ended the campaign with a win and several good results. At the London launch of the car, he said: "It has improved in two areas in which last year's car was worst - engine driveability and rear-end grip. If we can get the same grip at the front as at the rear it will be a fantastic car."

BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve believes that Williams' new driver Jenson Button may not realise what he has let himself in for. Former world champion Villeneuve said: "It is tougher than he imagined. I am not sure he knows what he is letting himself in for. The first time that you race in F1 everything comes at you." Button has landed the drive after finishing third in the British Formula Three Championship last season.

RALLYING:- Peugeot have revealed the causes that led to the shock withdrawal of their three cars before the start of stage two of the Monte Carlo Rally last week. The 206 cars driven by Marcus Gronholm, Francois Delecour and Gilles Panizzi failed to leave Gap in the French Alps. Gronholm had a faulty transmission problem and below-zero temperatures led to the pull-outs of the other cars. Peugeot had modified the starter system and it could not be tested in low temperatures before the event.


F1:- Arrows have announced that Jos Verstappen will drive for them in 2000. He said: "I have been visiting Arrows regularly over the past few week and think the car has a lot of promise." The former Tyrrell and Stewart driver will partner Pedro de la Rosa. The Arrows Supertec A21 has been tested for the first time at Silverstone. Technical director Mike Coughlan said: "It will hopefully give us the power and reliability we need."

Leading Thursday times:        secs
1 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar    44.422    (16 laps)
2 D Manning     GB  BAR       44.964    (67 laps)
3 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar    45.260    (10 laps)
4 P de la Rosa  Sp  Arrows    no time   (2 laps)

Ferrari are to sign an agreement with the French meteorological centre who will provide the team with detailed weather information during races.

RALLYING:- SEAT Sport have already started preparing for the Rally of Portugal, which will take place on March 16-19. The fourth round of the World Championship will be the first European gravel rally of 2000 and SEAT have been testing in the Girona region of Spain. Toni Gardemeister, who was fourth in the opening rally of the season in Monte Carlo, said: "The car is already better that it was last year. It is not yet one hundred per cent but has a lot of potential."


F1:- BMW Williams concluded their last day of testing at Barcelona with Ralf Schumacher completing 25 laps and Jenson Button driving for 21 laps. The team will now prepare for their first hot-weather test programme, which will begin on February 8 at Kyalami in South Africa. Snow and wet weather had hampered the five-day Barcelona programme. However, Button said: "I have gained a lot of valuable experience. The mileage accumulated so far has been promising."

Leading times:              mins secs
1 O Panis       Fr  McLaren   1:21.87
2 R Schumacher  Ger Williams  1:22.27
3 M Salo        Fin Sauber    1:22.67
4 J Button      GB  Williams  1:23.75

F3000 (Jerez):- Mario Haberfeld was delighted after setting the second fastest time in the first official test session ahead of the new campaign. After the two-day run-out, Haberfeld - who drives for the Daventry-based Fortec team - said: "We finished second overall and the team worked hard. There are improvements to be made but we have time because we have a break before the next test in Valencia." His team-mate Andreas Scheld set the 23rd quickest time.

Leading test times:mins secs
1 S Sarrazin         1:32.46
2 M Haberfeld        1:33.03
3 T Enge             1:33.05
4 F Montagny         1:33.06
5 E Bernoldi         1:33.59


F1:- Eddie Jordan was left stunned at the launch of his new car in London when he was surprised by Michael Aspel and the This is Your Life red book. Jordan had just outlined his aims for the forthcoming campaign when he was caught out by the BBC programme. He quipped: "Whoever is responsible for this is sacked." His team had their best ever season in 1999 and following the retirement of Damon Hill, Heinz-Harald Frentzen will be partnered by Jarno Trulli this year.

Eddie Jordan has admitted that he still has a lot of unfinished business in the sport but the team chief feels he is capable of achieving such goals. At the launch of the 2000 Jordan car at Drury Lane, he said: "I have a number of unfinished goals and am really close to achieving them. I want us to consolidate our position as we go along and give McLaren and Ferrari a run for their money. There is nothing like having your national anthem played on the podium."

F3000 (Jerez):- Kid Jensen Racing's Bas Leinders and Andrea Piccini set some promising lap times in an official two-day test. Leinders, in particular, stood out and was fourth in one afternoon session and second in the other. "I am very pleased with my first test with the team. We are proving to be competitive straight away," he said. Piccini added: "We had a good test and I am working successfully with my new engineer. On one day we had the fastest time for most of the afternoon."