The Month in Motor Sport

December

8: Johnny Herbert takes his first F1 victory... in the Kenwood Grand Prix, which takes place in a car park adjacent to the Bologna Motor Show. Britain also triumphs in the Attilio Bettega Memorial Rallysprint on the same programme, Colin McRae's Subaru humbling the Jolly Club Lancias.

9: David Brabham (below) escapes with concussion after a huge testing accident at Suzuka. The Australian was running an F3000 Lola for Nova Engineering at the time.

10: His scheduled test with the team the previous day having been aborted, after Giovanni Bonanno crashed the only available car, David Coulthard finally gets to drive a Benetton B192 (above). In tricky conditions, the young Scot impresses the team with both his common-sense approach and his lap times.

10: FISA confirms that the 1993 French GP has been struck off the official World Championship schedule because of the country's stringent new laws against tobacco advertising.

10: FISA announces, in a terse, two-line statement, that it plans to axe Formula 3000 at the end of 1993. It cites spiralling costs for the decision, and says that a replacement formula will be drawn up "as a matter of urgency".

10: IndyCar legend Rick Mears announces his retirement as a race driver. He had been a loyal servant to Penske for 15 seasons. News that a top IndyCar drive is suddenly available heightens speculation that Ayrton Senna may be on the verge of following Nigel Mansell over to the States for a crack at the CART/PPG title.

10: Scuderia Italia is given a warning following disclosures that the fuel sample taken from JJ Lehto's Dallara after the Australian GP was found to be illegal. The team is given a $1M fine and a three-race ban, albeit suspended as FISA is satisfied that the Italian team had not cheated intentionally.

10: A Jordan F1 car is seen at Silverstone... bedecked in Unipart and Rover logos. Speculation mounts that Hart's new V10 might be badged as a Rover. The deal subsequently fails to reach fruition.

10: FISA drops the Ivory Coast Rally from the World Championship.

11: Schnitzer confirms that it will run a brace of BMWs in the 1993 BTCC, for Steve Soper and Joachim Winkelhock.

11: Renault confirms that Alain Menu will partner Tim Harvey in its 1993 British Touring Car Championship line-up.

11: Tobacco advertising restrictions take their toll on the Paris-Dakar. Only 142 entries are received, rather than the usual 300-plus.

13: Nigel Mansell collects the BBC's Sports Personality of The Year award for the second time, beating Olympians Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell.

13: International motor racing returns to Buenos Aires. Andrea Montermini wins the non-championship F3000 race, at the helm of Junior Team's Reynard 91D. Fellow European series regulars Emmanuel Collard (Apomatox Lola T92/50) and Olivier Beretta (Ford Reynard 92D) join him on the podium. Jose Luis di Palma is best of the locals, the British F2 Championship competitor finishing fifth. The event is rated a success, despite erratic organisation.

14: Williams finally confirms that Damon Hill will partner Alain Prost in its 1993 F1 line-up.

14: Fledgling F1 team Escuderia Bravo announces that it has agreed terms with Spanish F3000 star Jordi Gene for 1993. Following the death of prime instigator Jean-Francois Mosnier from cancer, however, the team's future remains uncertain.

15: Ukyo Katayama signs for Tyrrell.

17: Oliver Gavin (testing a Ralt RT36, below), runner-up in the British Formula Vauxhall-Lotus Championship, joins Edenbridge Racing to contest the 1993 British F3 series. The 20 year-old will run with Spiess-Vauxhall power, but no chassis is nominated.

17: British rallying mourns the loss of Dave Metcalfe, one of the sport's leading lights, who perishes in a road accident close to his native Kendal.

18: Thanks to action by the RAC MSA, a schedule is drawn up for a projected pilot series of GT races in 1993. Although FISA had announced that such a programme would replace the defunct SWC, it was looking less and less likely until the UK's governing body stepped in.

20: Travelling with compatriot, and full-time Penske team member, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna is a surprise visitor to Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, where he tries a Penske IndyCar. This does little to dampen rumours that the Brazilian is considering a Stateside programme of some description.

20: Senna is not the only noteworthy Brazilian making a surprise appearance behind the wheel. Nelson Piquet, a visitor to the SudAm F3 final at Cascavel, completes a handful of slow laps in the F3 Ralt-Mugen of Pedro Muffato. It is Piquet's first trip in a single seater since his fearful accident during practice for the last Indianapolis 500.

20: Constantino Jnr, second in the SudAm F3 series, signs to contest the European F3000 series with Peter Thompson Motorsport.

21: Galmer Engineering, initially co-opted to work on a chassis for the latest genesis of the Brabham team, announces that it is withdrawing from the project for financial reasons (ie it hasn't seen any money). It also becomes apparent that Alan Randall is still involved with the team, his recent offer to resign having been refused by his co-directors.

21: A year after it had publicly denounced F1 for ecological reasons, Mercedes-Benz agrees to confirmation of its alliance with the fledgling Sauber F1 team, the new cars of which will carry 'Concept by Mercedes-Benz' logos on their flanks.

21: It is confirmed that Paul Stewart, son of thrice world champion Jackie, will contest a third season of European F3000 with the team bearing his own name.

21: Andrea Aghini, the rising star of Italian rallying, is granted an enlarged programme of World Championship events for 1993.

22: Mark Blundell (below) returns to F1. The McLaren test driver signs for Ligier. Since losing his Brabham drive at the end of 1991, through lack of sponsorship, Blundell has raced only once... sharing the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Peugeot of Yannick Dalmas and Derek Warwick.

23: Brabham gets an early Christmas present in the form of a sponsorship deal with a Mexican bank, linked to its earlier recruitment or driver Carlos Guerrero. There is no news, however, on whether Brabham will have any cars built in time, or whether Guerrero will be issued with the required superlicence . . .

23: The Lola T93/00 IndyCar is launched in Huntingdon. Most of the national papers turn up, expecting to find one N Mansell in attendance. They don't.

26: Popular Clubmans racing stalwart Phil Wilkinson succumbs to a heart attack, aged just 35.

January

1: The Paris-Dakar rally kicks off. Eventually, 154 cars, 'bikes and trucks take the start.

3: The opening rounds of the New Zealand International Formula Atlantic series at Timaru fall to Stuart Crow's Ralt and Jos Verstappen's Swift.

4: Omegaland, 1992 British F2 championship winner, announces that it has ordered Reynards for its graduation to European F3000.

4: Belgian Mikke van Hool signs for a third season of British F3. He'll drive a P1 Reynard. Van Hool's compatriot Kurt Mollekens, meanwhile, lands one of the prized works Van Diemen drives in the British Open Formula Ford Championship.

4: Marlboro confirms its withdrawal from Racing for Spain. This has a shattering effect on Iberian motorsport, and also means a possible loss of entries in the British F3, Formula Renault and Formula Ford series. Equally, Bravo F1 aspirant Jordi Gene finds himself bereft of funds. Rally champion Carlos Sainz's red and white chevrons are replaced by the logos of Repsol and Ducados.

4: Veteran Finn Markku Alen is retained by Toyota Team Europe, but only for the Safari Rally.

4: Ford's intention to enter the BTCC with a brace of Mondeos is confirmed. Andy Rouse will prepare two cars, and drive one of them; New Zealander Paul Radisich is the hot tip to race the other.

4: Nigel Mansell has his first run in his Indy Lola, lapping faster than team-mate Mario Andretti at the Firebird road course, in Phoenix.

6: Honda announces its intention to run an IndyCar project from 1994... and threatens to withdraw if CART continues to insist that the engine must be supplied to a minimum number of teams.

7: Delayed by rain, Nigel Mansell has his first run on an oval circuit. After feeling his way in gently, he laps within 0.5s of Michael Andretti's track record.

7: TWR announces that it will run a pair of Lola-Cosworths in the Indy 500, and that it will run a singleton entry in a limited programme of CART/PPG events.

7: TWR also unveils the XJ220C GT racer. Allen Lloyd is tipped as probable first customer; Lloyd intends to enter a cars for the Bells pere et fils, Derek and Justin.

7: Andrea de Cesaris signs up for a second season with Tyrrell.

7: Cosworth launches its new F3000 engine, the AC (below). The all-new V8 replaces the trusty, 25 year-old DFV, though the latter is still expected to play a major part in the formula in '93.

9: One month after he was expected to ink his deal with Pacific Grand Prix, Michael Bartels finally signs up. The team also releases first pictures of its monocoque, built up at Reynard Composites.

9: John Price wins the Mewla Rally, opening round of the Demon Tweeks/Motoring News National Tarmac Rally Series.

10: Dutchman Jos Verstappen takes the lead in the New Zealand International Formula Atlantic series. At Teretonga, Verstappen inherits victory in the first race when leader Craig Baird is black-flagged for infringing noise regulations. Suitably muffled, Baird bounces back to win part two, with Verstappen second.

11: Brazilian Pedro Diniz graduates from British F3 to European F3000. He signs for Forti Corse.

11: Van Diemen ceases involvement with its own F3 project. The RF92 chassis will be further developed, however, by designer Andy Thorby, working in partnership with Mike Rowe under the Amzel Cars banner.

11: Mercedes-Benz's name continues to be linked with a BTCC project. The latest suggestion is that Prodrive will run a BMW 318is to begin with, and replace it with a Merc 190 in mid-season...

11: Jaki Scheckter, son of Ian and nephew of 1979 world champion Jody, signs up for a season of British Formula Ford. The highly rated Scheckter will drive an Aintree International Reynard.

11: Doug Watts, the well-respected foreman of the BMC rally team in the 1950s and '60s, passes away at his Oxfordshire home, aged 74.

12: Lombard announces its support for the London-Sydney Marathon, which starts on April 17.

13: Ligier takes up its option on Martin Brundle. Having surprised a few people by signing its first ever British driver just before Christmas, in the shape of Mark Blundell, new owner Cyril de Rouvre's team now has two.

13: Formula 3000's interested parties and various national ASNs meet with FISA in Paris. The outcome of the discussions is unanimous: all parties want to adopt cost-cutting measures drawn up by the chassis and engine builders, and to let the formula continue as before (see Arront Nonsense, page 130).

14: The RAC MSA meets with F3000 and F3 teams to discuss the future of both formulae. The previous day's happenings in Paris are approved; it is agreed that F3 needs to be made cheaper, and more entertaining.

14: Benetton runs two versions of its new F1 car, the B193A, at Silverstone. Michael Schumacher concentrates on the actively-suspended model; Alessandro Zanardi drives the semi-automatic version in tricky conditions, but crashes it.

14: At the Shell Awards in London, McLaren's Ron Dennis says: "If Ayrton Senna ends up racing in IndyCars this year, I'll eat my hat," adding that, were he a betting man, he'd stack a few pounds on Nigel Mansell racing an F1 car in 1993.

15: Jordan launches its 1993 F1 contender at Silverstone. Rubens Barrichello christens the Hart-engined car.

15: F3000 team owner Mike Earle announces that his fledgling American racing team, which ran in Formula Atlantic last year, will spread its wings to encompass Indy Lights. Earle's eventual target is a crack at the full IndyCar series.

15: TWR tests its XJRI 2D prototype —Jaguar's potential Le Mans contender — at Silverstone. David Brabham and John Nielsen do the driving.

16: Bruno Saby wins the Paris-Dakar for Mitsubishi.

17: A brace of wins at Lady Wigram gives Craig Baird the points lead in the NZ Formula Atlantic series.

18: Paul Radisich's place in the Ford BTCC team is finally confirmed.

18: March's F1 team is on the brink of sale.

18: Stig Blomqvist is recruited to drive an Opel Calibra Turbo on the Swedish Rally, the first man to use the car at World Championship level. Markku Alen's hopes of driving a Lancia on the same event are shelved, as the Finn's commitments to Toyota won't allow it.

18: The HSCC announces that its Visage Historic Superprix, at Brands Hatch on June 5/6, will be dedicated to John Surtees. The meeting will feature races for classic and historic cars and 'bikes.

19: French sports minister Frederique Bredin gives guarantees that Formula 1 cars will be able to make their way uninterrupted to Magny-Cours for the French GP, should the race be re-instated by FISA. Although this news arrived too late for the event to be added to our international fixtures guide (see pages 144/145), the event is expected to be staged on July 4. There had been fears that equipment would be seized if teams had raced with tobacco advertising in other countries. The French law on this matter has now been amended...

19: Minardi announces a surprise F1 line-up. While Christian Fittipaldi's retention was entirely expected, the recruitment of Fabrizio Barbazza was not. Barbazza last drove for the AGS team, in 1991.