10: The FIA creates an International Touring Car Championship for Class 1 machinery in 1996, following the success of the pilot ITC initiative in ’95. The 13-event calendar means the end of the successful German Touring Car Championship (DTM), although Germany will host six rounds of the new series.
18: The sport’s governing body makes some changes in rallying too. From 1997, the present World Championship points scoring system (of 20-15-12 etc) will be replaced by the Formula One method (10-6-4 etc). Maximum stage mileage is reduced from 372 to 341 for 1996, while for ’97 two-wheel drive, naturally aspirated road cars may be converted to four-wheel drive, turbocharged rally machines.
20: Kenneth Eriksson seizes the Asia-Pacific Rally title for Mitsubishi, when his Lancer E3 wins the Hong Kong-Beijing event. Ari Vatanen completes a Mitsubishi one-two, with Briton Richard Burns third for Subaru.
20: 1964 World Champion John Surtees meets Callaway Corvette GT team owner Rocky Agusta to discuss sponsorship and management possibilities for the 1996 season. Surtees, close to the Agusta family since his motorcycle racing days, says he will help out if he can.
20: Alister McRae confirms that he is “99% certain” to drive a Ford Escort Cosworth on the RAC Rally. The 1995 British champion will drive alongside Malcolm Wilson in the Cumbrian’s team.
20: Nissan Motorsports Europe, for which McRae won the British title, will run just Jarmo Kytölehto in a singleton Nissan Sunny GTi on the RAC. Kytölehto’s fellow Finn Tapio Laukkanen will drive a factory VW Golf GTi on both the RAC and in the 1996 British championship.
20: Austrian Robert Lechner takes a surprise win in the Formula Ford Eurocup finale at Brands Hatch, but second place is enough for Swift’s Bas Leinders to be confirmed as champion. Fellow Swift driver Topi Serjala clinches the Kent-engined title with victory in his race.
21: Rumours sweep Aida, to the effect that Damon Hill will not take up his Williams F1 seat in 1996. It is mooted that the Englishman may swap with the Benetton-bound Gerhard Berger, or that Sauber’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen may end up at Didcot. The German would be attractive to BMW, tenuously linked with Williams for a Grand Prix return in 1997.
21: Chris Mellors becomes the first man since Malcolm Wilson (in 1979) to take two successive National Rally titles when he wins the Midland Rally in his Ford Escort Cosworth. Murray Grierson leads early on before transmission failure strikes the Scotsman’s Subaru Legacy, while fellow Scot David Gillanders carries the fight to Mellors all the way, but has to settle for second both in the rally and the championship.
22: Michael Schumacher is World Champion. The German clinches the title in the most emphatic way possible, benefiting from Benetton’s pit stop strategy and then hunting down David Coulthard’s Williams to take his eighth win of the year in the Pacific GP. Damon Hill takes third from the Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, but incurs the wrath of Schumacher for what the new champion – who seems to be in a minority of one – considers to be unacceptable driving.
22: Jean-Christophe Boullion drives his last GP for Sauber, for the time being. The Frenchman will make way for the returning Karl Wendlinger, who has been impressive in recent testing outings.
22: Jan Magnussen, the first Dane to drive in a Grand Prix since Tom Belso in 1974, makes an impressive F1 debut for McLaren at Aida. Deputising for the appendicitis-suffering Mika Hakkinen, Magnussen finishes just behind team-mate Mark Blundell, and is linked with an Arrows drive for 1996.
22: Kevin McGarrity wins a stunning Formula Ford Festival final for Van Diemen. The Ulsterman benefits when French champion Patrice Gay, walking the race in his Mygale, slides off the road. Swift’s Bas Leinders and Miku Santavirta move in to challenge, but the team-mates’ grudge match culminates when they end in a tangled heap on the run to Druids. The FF1600 Festival goes to Finland’s Topi Serjala, who leads Fredrik Sorlie – his Apollo Motorsport Swift teammate – from lights to flag.
22: Ward Burton takes his first NASCAR Winston Cup success at Rockingham, although the race is affected by the organisers’ hamfisted penalising – and subsequent unpenalising – of championship contender Dale Earnhardt.
22: Patrick Bernardini moves back into the hunt for the French Rally Championship, his Ford Escort Cosworth winning the Le Touquet event from Fabien Doenlen’s Peugeot 306 Maxi. The British junior series runs as a class on the event second place is enough to give Neil Wearden the title and a works ‘Pug’ drive in ’96.
22: Owen McAuley wins his first F3 race at Donington, the Ulsterman triumphing in his Alan Docking Racing Dallara-Mitsubishi. Jason Elliott – driving in his first F3 event since 1990! – takes second, while Formula Renault driver Paula Cook wins Class B in an impressive fifth place overall.
23: It becomes known that David Brown, the Williams engineer who has worked with Mansell, Senna, Prost and Hill, will join McLaren next season.
23: Anthony Reid is very impressed by the new Super Touring Opel Vectra, below, after his inaugural run at Pembrey. The Scot is then linked with an Opel drive in the recently-announced International Touring Cars series.
23: Sources in the USA suggest that Chrysler is seriously considering a return to F1, for the first time since its Lamborghini V12 project of the early ’90s.
23: After two years in which new machinery has been banned, the French F3 Championship is to welcome back contemporary cars in 1996.
23: Rumours indicate that Finnish coming-man Harri Rovanperä has signed for Ford to contest the 1996 British Rally Championship.
23: Peugeot announces a 106 Cup, which will join its existing two 306-based series (the British Junior Championship and Peugeot Masters) on the 1996 rally calendar.
24: Tommi Mäkinen reveals that he has signed a two-year contract with Ralliart Mitsubishi.
25: The Catalunya Rally provides a home win for Carlos Sainz and a Subaru 1-2-3. It is also the most controversial round of the World Rally Championship since the 1986 Sanremo Rally. Colin McRae is angered by Prodrive’s team orders, and is only persuaded to hand his on-the-road win to Sainz at the last minute when he books into the final control one minute late. But even this is overshadowed by the news that Didier Auriol has been excluded from fourth place when his Toyota is discovered to be fitted with an illegal turbocharger. On happier note, Mitsubishi Galant driver Rui Madeira becomes Portugal’s first motorsport World Champion when he clinches the Group N crown.
25: American Brian Cunningham tops the F3000 testing times at Snetterton in Nordic’s Lola.
25: Toyota GB announces it decision to withdraw from the British Touring Car Championship.
25: Guy Smith and Lee Brookes receive their prize drives for winning the Formula Renault Sport and Elf Renault Clio Cup titles, impressing with their performances at Silverstone in a Williams FW17 and BTCC Renault Laguna respectively.
25: Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac team up once more, when the three-times World Champion tests the latter’s latest Formula Renault Sport chassis, the Ronta, at Silverstone.
26: Will Hoy is confirmed as Alain Menu’s BTCC team-mate at Williams Renault Dealer Racing.
26: Ford launches Supervan 3 at the Earl’s Court Motor Show. This Transit silhouette features a Formula One Ford-Cosworth HB V8, and will be demonstrated by BTCC star Paul Radisich next year. It also reveals its RS2000 rally “kit car”.
26: Philippe Siffert, son of the late Jo, tests an F3 Dallara-Mitsubishi at Silverstone. He tests at Snetterton the following day.
27: Paula Cook, a star in the recent F3 International Cup at Donington Park, tests a works Vauxhall Cavalier at Silverstone. Klaus Ludwig tests John Cleland’s title-winner also.
27: In spite of Toyota GB’s decision to withdraw, Tim Sugden tests TOM’S GB’s Toyota Carina at Snetterton. The team is hopeful of contesting the 1996 BTCC.
28: Ron Dennis insists that the stories suggesting Roger Penske’s imminent buy-out of McLaren was a hoax perpetrated by himself and Bernie Ecclestone.
28: Aguri Suzuki breaks a rib when he shunts his Ligier in final qualifying at Suzuka. He later announces his retirement from Fl.
29: Michael Schumacher scores his ninth victory of the season with a classy success in the Japanese GP at Suzuka. Ferrari’s Jean Alesi steals the German’s thunder initially with a stunning display in the damp conditions. His challenge ends with a blown gearbox, however, and Schumacher clinches the constructors’ award for Benetton — the first time for the team. Mika Hakkinen is a fine second for McLaren and Johnny Herbert is third in the second Benetton. In stark contrast, Williams suffers a dreadful day with both Damon Hill and David Coulthard spinning into the gravel.
29: Rumours of Honda’s F1 return are rife at Suzuka. The company plans to build the entire car. apparently.
29: BMW’s Deon Joubert wins the final rounds of the South African Touring Car Championship at Kyalami. Opel secures the manufacturers’ award. In Spain, Antonio Albacete (BMW) and Luis Villamil (Alfa Romeo) share the wins at Jerez to close on series leader, Opel’s Jordi Gene.
29: At Phoenix Ricky Rudd scores his first NASCAR victory of the season. Series leader Jeff Gordon finishes fifth.
29: The Birkett Six-Hour race at Snetterton is thrown into confusion when the timing equipment fails at three-quarter distance. The handicap positions will be a week late as the places are calculated manually!
29: Stephen Murphy’s Ford Escort Cosworth wins the Fastnet Rally, a round of the Vard Irish National Rally Championship.
30: In spite of its recent troubles, Toyota Team Europe announces that Carlos Sainz will join it for the 1996 season. The Spaniard signs a three-year contract with the Cologne-based team, and will be joined by Juha Kankkunen. Meanwhile, the axe falls on TTE’s Chief Engineer, Dieter Bülling.
30: The BRDC announces that it will back the Venson British F2 Championship as opposed to the TVR-engined Grand Prix Lights initiative
30:Marcos announces that it will contest the BPR Global Endurance Series in 1996 when its LM600 will be run by ADA.
30: It is revealed that leading French F3 team Promatecme will run a Renault-engined car in the British series for 1994 Formula Renault champion, James Matthews.
31: Juan Manuel Fangio ll completes the first mileage for All American Racers’ brand new Eagle-Toyota Indycar.
2: In a test for Super Nova, Kenny Bräck sets an unofficial F3000 lap record at Snetterton.
2: John Cleland gets his first taste of Vauxhall’s Vectra Super Touring contender at Pembrey.
2: Dunlop announces that it is to end its sponsorship of the Tarmac Rally Championship.
3: Frank Williams reiterates his support for the beleagured Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, his 1996 F1 driver partnership.
3: F3000 Champion Vincenzo Sospiri impresses on his first test for Ligier at Mugello, lapping within an ace of regular tester Emmanuel Collard.
3: Aguri Suzuki, still hospitalised after his Japanese GP qualifying shunt, looks set to announce his retirement from F1.
3: The FIA announces that the drivers examined in its controversial Portuguese and European Grands Prix doping tests have emerged with the all-clear.
3: After a special meeting of the World Council, the FIA stuns the rally world by excluding Toyota Team Europe from the 1995 World Championship and banning it from competition for a year in the aftermath of the Catalunya turbo controversy. The Cologne-based outfit is said to be considering an appeal against this unprecedented decision, which plunges the driver market into turmoil.
3: The DAMS Formula One car runs for the first time, in the hands of Jan Lammers and former DAMS-run F3000 champion Erik Comas.
4: Double British Rally Champion David Llewellin announces his retirement from the sport at a Vauxhall awards ceremony.
5: First and second places in the final round of the Japanese Touring Car Championship are enough to secure the title for BMW’s Steve Soper. It is the Monaco-based Londoner’s first championship success for nearly 15 years.
5: Andy Wallace/Olivier Grouillard take their third successive BPR Karcher Global GT Cup success at Zhuhai in China, their Mach One McLaren F1 winning by 44s from the West Racing example of John Nielsen/ Thomas Bscher.
6: British F3 Champion Oliver Gavin announces that he will make his Grand Prix debut for Pacific at the Australian Grand Prix. He replaces Andrea Montermini, the latter having exhausted his sponsorship monies.
6: The Forti team looks set to stay in F1 despite the impending loss of the well-funded Pedro Diniz, possibly with Ford Zetec-R V8 engines.
6: Ron Dennis condemns the outgoing F3000 category, reckoning it “completely useless” as a medium for driver training.
6: Hutumo Mandala Putra, the youngest son of the Indonesian president, is rumoured to be making plans for his country’s first-ever Formula One team.
7: Kelvin Burt signs for Volvo, and will race a TWR-run 850 alongside Rickard Rydell in next season’s British Touring Car Championship. The Tamworth man is also linked to a Ligier F1 testing deal. Outgoing Volvo man Tim Harvey is linked with a Nissan programme in the German Supertouring series.
8: The FIA’s medical delegate, Professor Sid Watkins, visits the Transport Research Laboratory at Crowthorne, as part of his research into the effectiveness of F1 gravel traps.
8: Alan Jones, the first man to win the World Championship for Williams (back in 1980) gives present Williams incumbent Damon Hill a roasting in an Australian magazine. The Aussie suggests that Frank Williams should be consulting his solicitors with the aim of breaking Hill’s 1996 contract.
8: Vauxhall Sport’s Mike Nicholson confirms that the Luton firm will no longer be involved in its successful F3 engine project, in order to concentrate on Touring Cars.
8: Renault Dealer Rallying reveals that Alain Oreille/Jack Boyere and Robbie Head/Terry Harryman will crew new Megane kit cars in the 1996 British championship.
9: Zakspeed, long associated with Mercedes-Benz in Class 1 Touring Car racing, defects to Opel.
9: Plans are afoot to bring circuit racing to the North Wales motorsport facility at Ty Croes.
10: The Formula One world, perhaps beginning to become a touch complacent after a trouble free 18 months, is given a mighty scare when Mika Hakkinen crashes his McLaren-Mercedes in first qualifying for the Australian GP. The Finn is admitted to hospital with head injuries, sustained when he hits the barrier at 125 mph, and is initially described as ‘serious but stable’. Over the course of the weekend. Hakkinen makes steady and encouraging progress, so that he is released from intensive care on Monday.
10: Back-of-the-grid F1 outfit Pacific can’t even sort out its paperwork! British F3 champion Oliver Gavin’s Superlicence cannot be obtained in time for the Australian GP, so Andrea Montermini is granted a reprieve.
10: British F3 regular Christian Horner shakes down the brand new TOM’S 035-Toyota at Snetterton.
10: Toyota tells TTE boss Ove Andersson not to appeal the FIA’s decision to ban the Cologne concern from the 1996 World Rally Championship. It is thought that a ‘satellite’ team like Grifone could take over the reins for a year, or that withdrawal for a season could allow TTE to concentrate on development for 1997. In any case, Subaru and Mitsubishi Toyota’s major WRC rivals pledge continuing allegiance to the championship.
12: Damon Hill becomes only the second man in history to win a World Championship Grand Prix by two laps, when his rivals drop like flies in the Australian finale at Adelaide. The Williams-Renault driver qualifies on pole position, but loses the lead at the first turn to team-mate David Coulthard. But the Scotsman then makes a bizarre error of judgment, crashing as he enters the pits for his first stop. World Champion Michael Schumacher is then forced out when Jean Alesi drives into him. Retirements for Johnny Herbert, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Eddie Irvine when each is seemingly set for the podium mean that Olivier Panis (Ligier-Mugen) and Gianni Morbidelli (Footwork-Hart) score surprise second and third places.
12: Jeff Gordon becomes the NASCAR Winston Cup champion for the first time, despite major challenger Dale Earnhardt winning the final round at Atlanta. Gordon, who only needs a position in the top 41 to clinch the title, makes it home in 32nd.
12: Belgium’s Eric van de Poele has a successful weekend at Barcelona, winning the two Spanish Touring Car rounds in his Nissan Primera to close to within striking distance of Opel’s Jordi Gene in the championship.
12: Gianfranco Cunico clinches the Italian Rally Championship with victory on the Piancavallo in his Ford Escort Cosworth. Main rival Piero Liatti drops out with suspension failure on his Subaru.
13: Rumours suggest that Nigel Mansell will race in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 at the wheel of a Patrick Racing Lola.
13: It becomes evident that Emerson Fittipaldi will drive for a subsidiary Penske team in the 1996 Indycar season. The Brazilian will be run by the new Hogan Penske operation, in a Mercedes-powered PC25.
13: It is announced that BMW’s motorsporting arm is being moved to the UK. The operation will work in Surrey, in close cooperation with McLaren. McLaren-BMW GT designer Gordon Murray will be involved in work on the new Supertouring 318 challenger.
13: Prodrive confirms the signing of Kenneth Eriksson for two years. The Swede Will contest the Asia-Pacific and World championships.
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