The month in Motor Sport

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Feb 18: Toyota Team Europe is rocked by the resignation of three of its top rally engineers.

Feb 20: At a meeting near Heathrow, manufacturers involved in the World Rally Championship propose a two-wheel drive, two-litre Group A class, designed as a training ground for young drivers. It is quickly dubbed ‘Formula Two’.

Feb 21: Frenchman Jean-Marc Gounon signs to lead the DAMS European F3000 team, with his less experienced compatriot Frederic Gosparini graduating from the British national series as his team-mate. Former DAMS contractee Laurent Aiello’s plans are also finalised, as his rumoured switch to the now Marlboro-sponsored Pacific Racing is finally confirmed by the tobacco giant after weeks of speculation.

Feb 21: The first Lola T92/50 F3000 chassis rolls out of the Huntigdon factory and is shipped immediately to Japan for shakedown testing at Suzuka, where Mauro Martini is thwarted by snowy conditions. . .

Feb 23: Geoff Brabham wins the second round of the lMSA GTP series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Miami. Yorkshireman Russell Spence scores a notable victory in the supporting Formula Atlantic race, the former F3000 racer taking his 300 I-run Reynard to a comfortable victory on his return to racing.

Feb 24: Warren Hughes is the first British driver to secure a seat in the 1992 British F3 Championship. Hughes will race an Edenbridge Reynard.

Feb 27: In a dispute over the legality of its F1 entry, the Andrea Moda Formula team is excluded from the South African GP. Andrea Sassetti’s new team, based around the old Coloni operation, worked flat out to prepare two cars for the South African GP, but was forced to cease its on-track activities after Alex Caffi had completed just one lap on the special free practice day arranged to allow teams to acclimatise to the new Kyalami. The departure of Andrea Moda alleviates the need for prequalifying.

Feb 27: Former Lotus GP driver John Miles arrives with the team in South Africa. Miles, who assisted with development of the latest Elan road car, will take on an engineering role.

Feb 28: Citing its disappointment at F1’s attitude to environmental concerns, Longines confirms its withdrawal as the F1 timekeeper.

Feb 28: Derek Daly announces that he will retire from race driving after the Sebring 12 Hours, on March 22.

Feb 28: The European F3000 Championship line-up is starting to look more settled. Frenchman Jerome Policand signs for GJ Motorsport, and Italian F3 star Luca Badoer agrees terms with Crypton Engineering.

Mar 1: Nigel Mansell thrashes the opposition in the South African GP, having been quickest since teams first ventured out onto the circuit the previous Thursday. Riccardo Patrese backs up his team leader with a solid second place. Ayrton Senna can’t hold a candle to the Williams-Renaults and finishes third. Johnny Herbert serves notice of Lotus-Ford’s potential with a superb drive to sixth place in the ageing 102D.

Mar 1: Bill Elliott wins the Goodwrench 500 at Rockingham, the second round of the NASCAR championship.

Mar 2: The future of the Sportscar World Championship is thrown into jeopardy when Alan Randall’s hoped-for backer, apparently the government of Dubai, pulls out of a deal to finance his proposed multi-car Jaguar team. Randall insists he will press ahead with his plans to buy nine cars from Tom Walkinshaw. . . .

Mar 2: In the wake of its crushing defeat in South Africa, McLaren hurries into a test programme to try and ready the MP4/7A (see box story). Allan McNish and Mark Blundell are entrusted with the initial shakedown work at Silverstone.

Mar 3: Andrea Moda Formula is permitted to participate in the Mexican GP. The Coloni C4B which the team took to South Africa will not be eligible, however, as the chassis was used by a different team the previous season, and cannot according to F1 rules be used by anyone else. The race is on to finish the Simtek-designed S29 1 in time for Mexico.

Mar 3: Leila Lombardi succumbs to cancer, aged 48.

Mar 5: Just 40 laps into his first test session with Pacific, Laurent Aiello writes off the monocoque of his Reynard 92D. Steering failure is blamed. Young Scot David Coulthard impresses by lapping fastest at the wheel of his ’91 vintage Paul Stewart Racing Reynard

Mar 7: Formula Renault star Jason Plato’s graduation to British F3 is confirmed. Plato will drive the factory Van Diemen RF93, which will be sponsored by Duckhams and run by P1 Engineering. P1 ‘s plans to run Belgian Mikke van Hool in a Reynard remain unchanged.

Mar 7: Neil Dunkel (Royale RP30) wins the first motor race of the British season, profiting from Mike Whatley’s exclusion for a yellow flag infringement in the Formula 4 encounter at the BMRMC’s annual Silverstone meeting.

Mar 8: Victory on the Portuguese Rally moves Juha Kankkunen (Lancia) into the lead of the World Rally Championship. Early leader Francois Delecour is thwarted by a holed sump. Miki Biasion gives Ford some consolation by finishing second.

Mar 8: The Japanese racing season opens at Suzuka. Ross Cheever (Reynard 92D) heads home a string of Lola T91/50s in the F3000 contest. Briton Anthony Reid (Ralt RT35) mops up in the F3 support race. His fellow Scot Heather Baillie qualifies 24th (of 42) for her first F3 race, and finishes 21st.

Mar 8: Bill Elliott takes a second straight NASCAR victory, pipping Alan Kulwicki by inches in the Pontiac 400 at Richmond.

Mar 9: Britain’s interest in its own F3 series increases as Kelvin Burt is snapped up by Fortec Motorsport.

Mar 9: The HSCC announces a European historic race meeting at Croix-en-Ternois. Taking place on May 8-10, the event will raise funds for the Comite d’Entraide du Sport Automobile, a charity designed to assist those who become disabled as a result of accidents at race meetings. This worthy cause is founded by former GP driver Philippe Streiff, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a testing accident in Brazil at the start of the 1989 season.

Mar 10: Uncertainty over the future of the SWC increases as the Jarama race is cancelled.

Mar 10: Martin Donnelly, out of the cockpit since his horrific qualifying accident during practice for the 1990 Spanish GP, tests a rallycross Vauxhall Nova at Swindon. The Ulsterman will race the car at Nutts Corner on April 4.

Mar 11: Former AGS and Coloni designer Christian Vanderpleyn dies in a road accident near Turin.

Mar 12: Two days of European F3000 testing commence at the Nurburgring. After snow flurries, the sessions continue in pouring rain, rendering the whole exercise a waste of time. Laurent Aiello is fastest in his Pacific Racing Reynard, just ahead of the continuously impressive David Coulthard.

Mar 13: Vauxhall increases its commitment to motor racing, by announcing official backing for the Edenbridge F3 team and its lead driver Warren Hughes.

Mar 13: Alessandro Nannini is confirmed as a member of Alfa Romeo’s Italian Touring Car Championship team, as team-mate to Nicola Larini. It marks Nannini’s racing comeback. His F1 career with Benetton was interrupted in autumn 1990 by a terrible helicopter accident in which his left hand was severed. The limb was subsequently reattached successfully by microsurgeons.

Mar 14: The chances of seeing Alain Prost racing in F1 this year diminish. Negotiations between the thrice world champion, Guy Ligier and Renault are reported by Elf — apparently prematurely — to have broken down. The French petrolier, one of Ligier’s prime sponsors, confirmed that Erik Comas and Thierry Boutsen would drive in the Mexican GP.

Mar 14: After another week of financial uncertainty, Brabham’s participation in the Mexican GP is apparently assured when the BT60Bs are freighted out to South America.

Mar 14: The new Lola T92/50 F3000 chassis runs for the first time in Europe. Jean-Marc Gounon is enlisted to drive at a soggy Nogaro.

Mar 15: Alain Prost, unhappy at some reports in the press, explains that problems raising the finance for an all-French F1 team were responsible for the collapse of his negotiations with Ligier. Guy Ligier expresses his disappointment at the news, but refuses to concede that Prost won’t appear in a Ligier at some stage during the racing season.

Mar 15: Bill Elliott’s NASCAR roll continues. He wraps up a third straight win in the Motorcraft 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Mar 15: The Rapid Fit Open FF1600 series kicks off in dramatic fashion at Thruxton. Pre-season favourites Andrew McAuley (Van Diemen) and Jamie Spence (Swift) tangle while disputing the lead. Spence is taken to hospital with bruising and a torn ankle ligament. Jonathan Kane threads through the wreckage to take an impressive victory in his year-old Van Diemen.

Mar 15: Louise Aitken-Walker re-signs for Ford. She will contest the British Rally Championship in a Sierra Cosworth 4×4.

Mar 15: John Price and Mike Bowen (Metro 6R4) win the West Cork Rally.

Mar 16: Alessandro Zanardi is recruited by Benetton to assist with the Ford V12 test programme.

Mar 16: Andrea Moda continues its rush to be ready for the Mexican GP. The new Simtek built S291 chassis passes its mandatory FISA crash test and is immediately crated up ready for transportation.

Mar 16: Damon Hill commences another two days of Silverstone testing for Williams. This time, he is entrusted with developmental work on the latest specification Renault V10.

Mar 16: The Welsh Rally is saved at the 11th hour, and will run to its full distance on May 2/3.

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