September 2000 Motorsport News


F1: (Indianapolis):- David Coulthard suffered a depressing start to his weekend as Michael Schumacher fired an early warning shot across the bows of Mika Hakkinen. Coulthard was the only one of the 22 drivers not to complete a full lap. The Scot embarrassingly had to have his McLaren pushed back into the pits as he looked to clock a time on the newly-built 2.6-mile circuit. Schumacher was the only driver to go below one minute 15 seconds, with Rubens Barrichello 0.2secs adrift.

NATIONAL SALOON'S (Spa Francorchamps):- The Peugeots of Toni Ruokonen and Dan Eaves emerged on top of the first of two qualifying sessions for the penultimate round of the championships. Ruokonen set the provisional pole time on his last lap of the session to go three tenths faster than his team-mate.

Leading times (Fri):      mins secs
1 T Ruokenen  Peugeot      2:44.383
2 D Eaves     Peugeot      2:45.176
3 R Moen      Peugeot      2:45.209
4 T Masini    Honda        2:45.273
5 S Harrison  Ford         2:45.935
6 M Kelly     Nissan       2:47.298


Michael Schumacher secured the 30th pole position of his career with a dominant performance in qualifying. The Ferrari driver clocked the fastest lap after only five minutes of the hour-long session, trimmed it later and remained unchallenged. Britain's David Coulthard overhauled world champion Mika Hakkinen to take second place on the grid. Hakkinen had to settle for third place with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in fourth spot.

Saturday's qualifying times:
 1 M Schumacher  Ger Ferrari  1:14.266
 2 D Coulthard   GB  McLaren  1:14.392
 3 M Hakkinen    Fin McLaren  1:14.428
 4 R Barrichello Brz Ferrari  1:14.600
 5 J Trulli      It  Jordan   1:15.006
 6 J Button      GB  Williams 1:15.017
 7 H-H Frentzen  Ger Jordan   1:15.067
 8 J Villeneuve  Can BAR      1:15.317
 9 P Diniz       Brz Sauber   1:15.418
10 R Schumacher  Ger Williams 1:15.484
11 A Wurz        Aut Benetton 1:15.762
12 R Zonta       Brz BAR      1:15.784
13 J Verstappen  Ned Arrows   1:15.808
14 M Salo        Fin Sauber   1:15.881
15 G Fisichella  It  Benetton 1:15.907
16 N Heidfeld    Ger Prost    1:16.060
17 E Irvine      GB  Jaguar   1:16.098
18 P de la Rosa  Sp  Arrows   1:16.143
19 J Herbert     GB  Jaguar   1:16.225
20 J Alesi       Fr  Prost    1:16.471
21 G Mazzacane   Arg Minardi  1:16.809
22 M Gene        Arg Minardi  1:17.161

Top 10 after 5 stages:         mins:secs
 1 M Dodd      Subaru Impreza    39:05
 2 R Duckworth Subaru Impreza    39:19
 3 V Wetton    Mitsubishi Lancer 39:45
 4 N Buckley   Mitsubishi Lancer 41:41
 5 B Bell      Ford Escort Cos   41:56
 6 P Collins   Ford Escort RS    42:03
 7 R Holfeld   Mitsubishi Lancer 42:03
 8 B Johnson   Subaru Impreza    42:19
 9 P Taylor    Subaru Impreza    42:55
10 C Payne     Mitsubishi Lancer 43:00

BRITISH F3 (Spa Francorchamps):- Takuma Sato continued to set the pace in the opening qualifying session as he took provisional pole. Ben Collins moved up to second place on the last lap of the session.

Leading times (Sat):      mins secs
1 T Sato      Dallara      2:15.834
2 B Collins   Dallara      2:16.050
3 A Pizzonia  Dallara      2:16.182
4 T Monteiro  Dallara      2:16.240
5 M Pavlovic  Dallara      2:16.286
6 T Scheckter Dallara      2:16.564

MGF CUP (Spa Francorchamps):- Mark Ticehurst took his first pole position of the season for round 11 of the championship. Championship leader Jamie Hunter took second position with Alastair Lyall in third spot.

RALLYING:- Austrian rally driver Herbert Lettner died after crashing into a concrete wall during an Austrian national championship rally in Oberwart. Lettner, 30, was airlifted to a nearby hospital in Graz where he later died from severe lung injuries. His co-driver and cousin Thomas Lettner freed himself from the wreckage and walked away virtually uninjured. Organisers confirmed that the rally would not continue following the tragic accident that had taken place.

29.09.2000 - F1: THE AMERICAN GP

Juan Pablo Montoya has been confirmed as Ralf Schumacher's Williams partner for the 2001 season. The 25-year-old Colombian, who is the reigning CART champion, will replace Jenson Button who is being temporarily released from his driving contract. Montoya, who has been released from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team with the blessing of their owner Chip Ganassi, has signed a two-year deal. His first outing in a Formula One car was for Williams as a test driver.

Indianapolis boss Tony George has urged Formula One's stars to show caution around the sport's newest track or run the risk of another fatality. Formula One ventures into the unknown at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - known as The Brickyard - this weekend. And George is worried about the drivers' ability to handle the circuit's famous banked ovals. "Everyone needs to be cautious in their approach to this first event and use it as a test session in a way," he said.

Reigning champion and current leader Mika Hakkinen is returning to his GP roots in Indianapolis this weekend. "I'm looking forward to going there because I did my first Grand Prix in the USA in 1991 in Phoenix," he said. "We haven't raced at Indianapolis, so we don't know what the circuit is going to be like, but it could be exciting. It will be interesting to see what sort of welcome we will get and what kind of following Formula One will get from the public."

Michael Schumacher is expecting a tough challenge at the famous Indianapolis track in Sunday's race. "From what I have heard, our first Grand Prix at Indianapolis looks like being quite a challenge," said the two times world champion. "The combination of speedway banking and very fast straight along with the tight infield section will be a new one when it comes to setting up the cars. The last corner and main straight looks like being well over 200mph."

Britain's David Coulthard is aware of what awaits the drivers at the legendary Indy track on Sunday. Coulthard, currently third in the race for the drivers title, said: "I've seen some footage of the track and it looks quite technical in the infield. Ultimately it will probably be similar form in terms of performance between the cars that we see during the year. I'm looking forward to going there as I hear they have already sold 250,000 tickets, or something like that."

Jenson Button is eagerly awaiting the challenge facing the teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. "The race should be good fun. I can't wait," said the Briton, who has made a superb start to his Grand Prix career. "It is a new track for everyone, so I will not be at a disadvantage like I am at some tracks where the others have raced before. It is going to be pretty spectacular, with the biggest race Formula One has ever had."

Ralf Schumacher is intrigued by what lies ahead for the F1 teams when they battle it out over the weekend. The legendary Indy track, which has been re-designed for the occasion, has Schumacher pondering the possibilities. "It's nice for Formula One to go back to America," said the younger brother of former champion Michael. "It will be interesting to see how the people receive us there. The circuit looks OK on the map, but you have to see in reality."

Eddie Jordan is fully aware of the need to maximise the potential benefits of Grand Prix's return to America. The race on Sunday will be the first in the States since 1991 and the Jordan chief executive knows its importance. "I believe this is a huge opportunity for Formula One. We must maximise it to create the right image. It is vital when you call yourself a World Championship to be not simply in America, North and South, like Canada and Brazil, but also in the US."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen is the first and only current F1 driver to have visited the newly-constructed Indianapolis track ahead of Sunday's race. Frentzen participated in a media day there during June which enabled participants to see the circuit. "The only circuit that comes close to resembling it is Hockenheim," he said. "But the track at Indy is more complex and finding the correct aerodynamic set up will be a huge challenge for all the Formula One teams."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the only F1 driver to have sampled the unique Indy circuit, is suitably impressed with it. "The set up will probably be similar to Spa. This will allow a top speed of 200mph," said the German. "This is all theory. On the first day of practice we will have our work cut out finding the optimum configuration. We want to give the fans an exciting race and grip the American public and I hope we can get a good result to establish ourselves in the States."

For BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve, the US Grand Prix represents the chance to return to the scene of his 1995 Indianapolis 500 success. "It's great to go to the States. With Indy being one of the centres of open-wheel racing, it is quite good to be going there," said the Canadian. "I just hope that the American fans don't get disappointed with the show. And that is because it is impossible to get the same kind of overtaking on a road course as you get on an oval."

Ricardo Zonta will feel at home when he savours the unique atmosphere of the mecca for North American racing fams. "I am looking forward to racing in the United States," said the Brazilian. "I know a number of Brazilian drivers who are competing there and they tell me the atmosphere at Indianapolis is something very special. This will be a very interesting race because none of the Formula One teams have experience of the circuit, so we will all start from the same point."

The American way of life holds plenty of excitement for Jean Alesi as Sunday's 15th round draws nearer. "It is fantastic to go back to America because it is a dream country for us Europeans, especially people like me from an Italian family," said Alesi. "I will be reminded of my battle for the lead with Ayrton Senna in the 1991 Phoenix Grand Prix. I have been to Indianapolis just once and I did a lap of the oval track in a bus with a lot of tourists!"

Arrows driver Pedro De La Rosa is happy that Sunday's race holds no distinction for one team over another. "It is a new circuit for everyone so we are all starting at the same level, which means no team has any advantage over another," said De La Rosa. "It will be my first experience of taking a corner with banking which will be very interesting. It's my first race in the States and it's good that Formula One is going back there."

Formula One returns to the USA for the first time since 1991 this weekend as the season builds to a tense climax. With just three races remaining, all attention now focuses on the inaugural visit to the Indianapolis circuit. The legendary Indy track has undergone a multi-million dollar facelift and the newly-designed circuit will be a real challenge for all the drivers. A sell-out crowd of 250,000 spectators is guaranteed to be thrilled by its first experience of modern GP racing.

With the Grand Prix honours hanging in the balance, Sunday's 15th round of the championship will be a major test. Indianapolis hosts the first Grand Prix in the US for almost 10 years and no one can be really sure what to expect from the purpose-built track. The teams will be driving the circuit for the first time on Friday in the first free practice session. Hardly any of the drivers has seen the circuit before and nobody has run a Formula One car at the circuit.

The venue for Sunday's 15th round of the world championship could prove to be the most unpredictable yet. Indianapolis is best known as the home of the Indy 500, run on its vast oval track in front of huge crowds. The race is on a purpose-built infield circuit that uses only part of the main straight and turn one from the oval. In the past Indianapolis has hosted races which included Grand Prix machines and drivers but they were run to local regulations.

Sunday's race is scheduled to last for 73 laps or 190.294 miles. Total track length: 2.606 miles Total turns: 13 (4 left, 9 right) Expected lap time: 72 seconds Expected average speed: 130mph Drivers will drive clockwise on the course, the first time in the 91-year history of the track that has occurred. The Indianapolis 500 has taken place annually on the oval track since 1911, except during the world wars years of 1917-18 and 1942-45.


TOUR OF CORSICA:- Scotland's Colin McRae suffered a broken cheekbone and bruised ribs after he crashed his Ford Focus into a tree on the 10th special stage. McRae was flown to hospital in Bastia by helicopter after the accident, but his co-driver Nicky Grist was unhurt. Francois Delecour of France secured the overall lead, ahead of compatriot and Peugeot team-mate Gilles Panizzi. Spaniard Carlos Sainz is just under 26 seconds behind in third place with England's Richard Burns in fourth.

Leading positions after stage 11
                           hr mins secs
 1 F Delecour     Peugeot   2:37.16.8
 2 G Panizzi      Peugeot   @  0.2 secs
 3 C Sainz        Ford      @ 25 9 secs
 4 R Burns        Subaru    @:1min 29.9
 5 M Gronholm     Peugeot   @ 2min 06.8
 6 P Liatti       Ford      @ 2min 30.5
 7 S Jean-Joseph  Subaru    @ 2min 32.1
 8 D Auriol       Seat      @ 2min 58.9
 9 T Makinen      Mit'bishi @ 4min 23.1
10 S Loeb         Toyota    @ 5min 07.7

TRACKROD RALLY:- York's Warren Philliskirk scored a dramatic late victory after Steve Petch, who had led for most of the day, failed to emerge for the final stage. Petch's Escort car broke down midway through the rally's longest stage, allowing Philliskirk to conquer.

Result after seven stages     Hr Min sec
1 Philliskirk/Evans Metro     1:21.03
2 Watson/Dewsnap    Escort    @    27s
3 Bell/Spooner      Escort    @  1min
4 Morgan/Douglas    Subaru    @  2min13
5 Bannister/Robson  Rord      @  2min33

CART:- Dario Franchitti grabbed provisional pole for Sunday's Houston Grand Prix after achieving a 92.493mph lap in the opening qualifying session. The Scot will be bidding for his third pole of the season in the final session but will have to sit out the last eight minutes of the half-hour run-out. It is a penalty for locking up his brakes and sliding into a tyre barrier. Jimmy Vasser and Christian Fittipaldi were second and third quickest but Mark Blundell was down in 17th place.

Friday qualifying times:       secs
 1 D Franchitti  GB  Honda    59.434
 2 J Vasser      US  Toyota   59.631
 3 C Fittipaldi  Brz Ford     59.634
 4 K Brack       Swe Ford     59.650
 5 H Castroneves Brz Honda    59.663
 6 G de Ferran   Brz Honda    59.692
 7 J Montoya     Col Toyota   59.998
 8 T Kanaan      Brz Mercedes 60.053
 9 P Tracy       Can Honda    60.163
10 M Andretti    US  Ford     60.177
17 M Blundell    GB  Mercedes 60.741

F.PALMER AUDI (Magny Cours):- Germany's Christian Hohenadel will start the last race of the season on pole, the first time a junior class driver has started at the head. Denmark's Alan Simonsen will line up alongside him for the rolling start.

Round 20 Qualifying (Sat)    mins secs
1 C Hohenadel    Ger         1:34.931
2 A Simonsen     Den           @0.004
3 B Besson       Fra           @0.141
4 R Kerr         GB            @0.175
5 P Edwards      US            @0.335
6 T Mullen       GB            @0.408