12:Durango, a midfield Formula 3000 team, announces Formula One ambitions for 1997.
13:ITV snatches coverage of Grand Prix racing from the BBC. with effect from 1997, with a deal which will see it pay FOCA 10 times the ‘Beeb’s’ going rate. Veteran commentator Murray Walker, above, is left contemplating the possibility that he has just one more season remaining in F1, although sections of Britain’s tabloid press launch a ‘Save our Murray’ campaign.
14:Having signed for Toyota just days before TTE’s ban from the World Rally Championship, Carlos Sainz salvages his 1996 and ’97 seasons by moving to Ford. The Spaniard will drive an Escort Cosworth alongside one of a number of candidates, which include Alister McRae and Armin Schwarz.
14: The FIA states that, from January 1 1997, World Rally Cars which will replace Group A at World Championship level that year will also be admitted to other FIA championships. This includes the European and Asia-Pacific series the latter is particularly vital to Far Eastern manufacturers.
14: At a press conference in Detroit, a tentative 18-car entry is announced for the inaugural North American Touring Car Championship.
14: Alain Menu is a team owner! The Renault BTCC star is teaming up with manager Mike Baker under the Menu Motorsport banner to run promising Finn Topi Serjala in the British Formula Renault Sport Championship.
15: Damon Hill emerges quickest from Formula One testing at Estoril. The Brit laps his Williams-Renault 0.8s quicker than new team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, with Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher next up. But star of the show is arguably Jos Verstappen, whose time in the Arrows-Hart would have qualified him fourth for the Portuguese GP. . .
16: Scotsman Allan McNish is quickest of a quintet of drivers who try lndycar team PacWest’s Reynard at Firebird. He edges out Mark Blundell in the reckoning.
17:Arrows Fl driver Gianni Morbidelli triumphs in the annual Elf Masters of Karting event at Bercy, in Paris. But his kart is later found to be illegal, handing victory to Minardi man Luca Badoer.
17:British F3 champion Oliver Gavin impresses Opel in a Class 1 Touring Car Calibra run at Nogaro. The Briton laps 0.3s quicker than Austrian Alexander Wurz, and faster than current incumbent, Klaus Ludwig.
18:Having endured a year as Michael Schumacher’s team-mate at Benetton, Johnny Herbert signs for the Sauber-Ford team for 1996 alongside Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Briton was chosen over countryman Mark Blundell, chiefly because of his two Grand Prix wins in ’95.
18: Paul Stewart Racing confirms that it has cancelled its order for a brace of Formula 3000 Lolas. This fuels rumours of an imminent announcement that the Milton Keynes concern will go F1 in 1997.
18: Porsche Supercup champion Emmanuel Collard signs an option to become the Jordan-Peugeot test driver. Nicola Larini retains his role as Ferrari’s anchorman.
18: Veteran sports car campaigners Derek Bell and Hans Stuck confirm that they will renew their richly successful partnership in the Daytona 24 Hours, in which they will share a Porsche.
18: It looks likely that Mitsubishi will sign lanky English redhead Richard Burns to drive in the 1996 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, above. Meanwhile, promising young German Uwe Nittel will replace lsolde Holderied in Ralliart Germany’s World Championship Lancer.
18: Peugeot signs Francois Delecour to drive a 306 Maxi E2 on the Monte Carlo Rally and Tour of Corsica. Renault confirms it will not enter the Monte.
18: Spanish Rally champion Jesus Puras will drive for Seat in the Two Litre World Championship. He will join Erwin Weber in the Ibiza-equipped team.
19: CART decides to go head-to-head with the now IRL-run Indy 500 by scheduling its round at Michigan for Memorial Day.
19:Alain Menu’s Renault Laguna sets the fastest Super Touring time during Michelin’s tyre test at Nogaro.
19: Single-seater constructor Swift is bought by the Plymouth-based, four-times Champion of Castle Combe, Gavin Wills. Its latest Formula Renault and Formula Ford chassis are revealed early in the New Year.
20:At a Tokyo press conference, Toyota sanctions a limited 1997 World Rally Championship programme via a series of dealer teams. Juha Kankkunen and Nicky Grist are expected to head up this programme.
20: BRM will return to Le Mans thanks to an engine deal with Nissan. The open-topped P301 will use the V6 turbo unit that took Geoff Brabham to four consecutive 1MSA titles (1988-91).
20: Johnny Herbert has his first run with Sauber, completing just 29 laps of Paul Ricard in its C14. Other pre-season Christmas tests see Martin Brundle sample the Jordan-Peugeot at Jerez, and Damon Hill’s Williams top the times at Barcelona. This latter test is coloured by a crash for Gerhard Berger, who is clearly struggling to get to grips with the Benetton-Renault. And finally, Tarso Marques, a 19-year-old Brazilian, impresses Minardi during a brief run at Flora no.
22: Ralf Schumacher signs for Japan’s Team Le Mans and will contest the Formula Nippon (aka F3000) series in ’97.
22: Mitsubishi in Japan confirms that Richard Burns will drive for it in ’97. The young Englishman and his regular Scottish codriver, Robert Reid, will contest the AsiaPacific Rally Championship as well as four rounds of the World Championship in a Lancer E3.
23: Armin Schwarz becomes the immediate favourite for the Monte Carlo Rally when Grifone enters a Toyota Celica GT-Four for him at the last-minute. Gregoire de Mevius is also an 11 th-hour entry in a privateer Ford Escort Cosworth.
28:Yvan Muller, the reigning French Supertourisme champion, signs to drive for Audi in the Italian Superturismo series.
31: Julian Bailey’s Toyota Corona wins a round of the New Zealand Touring Car Championship at Pukekohe.
2:Dennis Rushen, the maverick Norfolk engineer who masterminded the early career of Ayrton Senna, admits that he is on the verge of returning to the British singleseater scene.
2: Frank Meagher, the reigning Tarmac Champion, is pondering a sabbatical from rallying after the loss of a major sponsor.
4:In Detroit, Ford confirms that Stewart Grand Prix will be its official Fl team as from 1997. Jackie shown above.
4: Peugeot replaces Jean-Pierre Jabouille, above, as its sporting director. The scorer of the first turbo GP victory for Renault! is to be replaced by 47-year-old Pierre-Michel Fauconnier, a Peugeot employee since 1979.
4:1996 BTCC drives: John Bintcliffe, below, and Tim Harvey are confirmed by Audi and Peugeot respectively. The former’s BTCC partner will be reigning touring car World Champion, Frank Biela, with Bintcliffe on left.
4: Silverstone reveals its new ‘International’ lay-out.
5:A serious reduction in budget sees Ligier lay off 28% of its workforce (38 people), And thus the team confirms the very wealthy Pedro Diniz as its ‘number two’ to Olivier Pan is.
6:Andy Wallace (Ridley & Scott-Ford) sets an unofficial lap record during testing for the Daytona 24-Hours. 6: In spite of the recent F1 announcement, Paul Stewart confirms that his team will continue to contest the British Formula Three Championship, with Jonny Kane joining Ralph Firman Inr in its ’96 line-up. A major rival to this pair will be Jamie Davies, who is to drive for the TWR Ligier Junior Team, it is revealed.
8: Juha Kankunnen is confirmed as a Toyota entrant on the Swedish Rally, the first round of the World Championship.
8: The Tatuus marque will make its British debut in the hands of DC Cook Racing, which will also race the Italian Formula Renault chassis in the Eurocup.
7: BTCC ace Patrick Watts wins a Peugeot 106 one-make race at Manfeild, New Zealand.
8: Mark Higgins, above, is Nissan Motorsport Europe’s choice to lead its defence of the British Rally Championship. The 24year-old Manxman is expected to contest all five rounds at the wheel of a Sunny GTi.
4: Buckmore Park kart circuit announces plans for a £1M refit that will bring it up to World Championship standard.
8: Rookie Bill Auberlen is the surprise of Daytona 24-Hour testing when he tops the times in Gianpiero Moretti’s Ferrari 333SP. Auberlen is promptly snapped up by the BDIS/Ralt American Toyota Atlantic team.
10: Peter Brock signs for Volvo’s attack on the Australian Super Touring series, and will dovetail this with Holden’s Australian Touring Car Championship effort.
11: A Mygale works team is confirmed for the British Formula Ford Championship, to be run by Haywood Racing. It will be the French marques first foray into Formula Ford in Britain.
12: Bad weather hampers F1 testing, limiting running for Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) at Paul Ricard and Alain Prost and David Coulthard (McLaren) at Estoril.
12:Tyrrell re-signs Ukyo Katayama, above, for his fourth season with the team.
12:Al Foyt files a law suit against IndyCar over the exclusion of IRL-supporting franchise holders from board meetings.
14: Mark Blundell, above, turns his back on F1 again and signs for the PacWest Indycar team, having lost the second Sauber seat to Johnny Herbert.
14: Jordan’s new 196 chassis the first of the latest generation F1 cars is shaken down at Silverstone. The car features a very Williams-like nose.
14:Pierre Lartigue/Michel Perin win the Granada-Dakar Rally, heading Citroen team-mates Philippe Wambergue/Fred Gallagher by over an hour at the finish.
15: Donington circuit confirms that a race may be held at the circuit in August that will run to Le Mans sports car regulations.
15: Francois Delecour is confirmed as part of Ford’s squad for the Swedish Rally.
15:The participation of Joachim Winkelhock and Schnitzer in the BTCC is strongly hinted at by BMW GB. Italian star Roberto Ravaglia is likely to join Winkelhock, despite BMW GB’s wish that Steve Soper should return to Britain.
15: Subaru’ s Swedish Rally attack is strengthened by the presence of a third entry for Piero Liatti, who joins Colin McRae and Kenneth Eriksson. The Italian is expected to contest the majority of the World Championship rounds for the team.
15:TVR pulls out of the Grand Prix Lights UK single-seater initiative.
15: Ford’s RS2000 kit car is entered for the Hautes Fagnes Rally in Belgium, where it will be driven by Gwyndaf Evans.
15:Despite its imminent F1 plans, DAMS confirms it will take part in this year’s Formula 3000 Championship, with leanPhilippe Belloc moving to the team from Apomatox.
15: The FIA considers a written examination concerning motor racing rules, regulations and safety procedures for all F1 drivers as part of its Superlicence criteria. Any current drivers who fail will have to resit the test before they will be given a licence.
15: Lola concludes a deal to supply at least 20 F3000-type chassis to Mexico to upgrade the country’s national F2 series.