The month in MOTOR SPORT



Nov 8: Alister McRae, son of Jimmy and younger brother of Colin, is surprise winner of the Shell Rally Scholarship. His prize is a full British Rally Championship season in a Ford Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 sponsored by the oil giant. His programme will also include a couple of overseas events.

Nov 9: Wisbech Stadium hosts its last-ever meeting. Danny Semrau wins the saloon stock car race which signs off the evening. Next visitors to the site will be the housing developers.

Nov 11: Volkswagen joins the ever-growing band of manufacturers who support one-make racing in the UK. A series for the supercharged Polo G40 is announced.

Nov 12: Williams raises a few eyebrows by revealing that CART star Al Unser Jnr is to join the team at Estoril to help with its winter test programme, despite bad feeling when a similar venture came to nothing last year. With Nigel Mansell busy moving to Florida, Unser Jnr is contracted to partner Riccardo Patrese and usual Williams tester Damon Hill in Portugal.

Nov 12: II Barone Rampante is confirmed as the first customer for the new Judd KV engine, which will be introduced to the European F3000 Championship in 1992.

Nov 12: The BARC applies to run a race meeting on a new street circuit in Moscow! Makes a change from Thruxton and Pembrey. The Moscow Super Prix is scheduled for August 1/2 1992. Highlights will be Formula Renault and Renault Clio 16v races. Marshals and senior administrators will be exported, along with the racing series, from the UK.

Nov 15: Luca di Montezemolo, charismatic Ferrari team manager in the ’70s, rejoins the Prancing Horse, replacing Piero Fusaro as president. Fusaro is moved onwards and upwards within the Fiat Group. Since his last stint at Ferrari, di Montezemolo’s CV credits include organisation of the 1990 soccer World Cup.

Nov 17: Mark Martin scores his first victory of the year in the NASCAR finale at Atlanta. Dale Earnhardt, crowned champion one round earlier, finishes fifth. Chevrolet takes the manufacturers’ crown for the ninth consecutive year.

Nov 18: Al Unser Jnr duly tries the Williams FW14 at Estoril, at the start of a five-day test session which sees the Didcot manufacturer’s regular test contractee, Damon Hill, set a best time 0.8s faster than Riccardo Patrese’s Portuguese GP pole time.

Nov 19: Gordon Kimball resigns from the design team at Benetton. Ross Brawn assumes overall control and Rory Byrne heads research and development.

Nov 19: Former GP driver Brian Henton and two associates are bailed to appear before a Sheffield court on fraud charges. Henton’s case will be heard in February.

Nov 21: FISA sacks its press department.

Nov 21: Alain Prost whispered to be testing Jordan F1 car at Silverstone. Rumour subsequently denied. . .

Nov 22: Ferrari announces its 1992 F1 line-up. Ivan Capelli replaces Prost as Jean Alesi’s new team-mate. Gianni Morbidelli and Nicola Lanni are contracted to assist with the research and development programme. 1991 incumbent Andrea Montermini isn’t. Dallara, meanwhile, which will run Ferrari’s V12 for the first time in 1992, confirms that Pier-Luigi Martini is to join the team, replacing Emanuele Pirro as JJ Lehto’s team-mate.

Nov 22: John Watson returns to an F1 cockpit, carrying out testing duties for Jordan at Silverstone.

Nov 22: The world’s leading sportscar manfacturers bare their teeth. Infuriated by FISA’s decision to axe the 1992 SWC, a meeting at Peugeot’s Paris base comes up with a set of proposals geared towards resurrecting the series. A final decision will be made on December 5, when FISA’s World Council holds its next meeting.

Nov 22: Mobil and Top Gear step in as sponsors of the 1992 British Rally Championship.

Nov 24: David Coulthard clinches outright victory in the Macau Grand Prix, first and second places in the two heats being enough to shade fellow Ralt RT35 racer Jordi Gene. In the supporting touring car race, Dallara F1 refugee Pirro wins for BMW.

Nov 24: David Greer is the first retirement from the RAC Rally. The unfortunate Ulsterman wakes up to find that his Group A Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4 has been stolen overnight.

Nov 25: Colin McRae (Subaru) gives British rallying a boost when he leads the Lombard RAC for a short time, before erring on tyre choice and dropping to fourth.

Nov 25: David Brabham gets back behind the wheel of an F1 car, assisting with Team Lotus’ active suspension development programme at Silverstone.

Nov 26: Mercedes-Benz axes its F1 plans, citing environmental concerns which some view as spurious. The Stuttgart giant ends media speculation about the date of its return when it announces that its only foreseeable motor racing commitment will be to touring cars.

Nov 27: The RAC Rally finishes in Harrogate. Victory secures a third World Championship title for Lancia’s Juha Kankkunen. In 10th place, Louise Aitken-Walker (Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4) is top Brit.

Nov 27: BRM unveils its new sportscar contender, the P351 Le Mans, at London’s Science Museum. Finn Harri Toivonen is confirmed as one of the revived marques contracted drivers. Several other sportscar racing aspirants are in attendance. Drawings of the proposed BRM P401 road car are also shown.

Nov 29: Alain Prost ‘spotted’ eating with Jordan personnel in a café at Silverstone. This comes as news to Eddie Jordan, who denies all knowledge.

Nov 29: Brabham’s Chessington factory, from which a skeleton staff had been operating after 82 workers were laid off, finally closes its doors. The team prepares to move to new premises in Milton Keynes, from where it will be overseen by former Middlebridge F3000 team manager Ray Boulter. Herbie Blash, an integral part of the organisation for so long, transfers to Yamaha. Brabham’s immediate future is clouded by the news that Akihiko Nakaya, who brings much-needed sponsorship to the team, has had his initial application for the necessary F1 superlicence refused ..

Nov 29: Mixed fortunes for World Championship rally drivers trying new steeds for the first time. Miki Biasion emerges satisfied from his first experience of Ford’s Sierra Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 after an extensive workout on Welsh gravel. Meanwhile, Tommi Mäkinen rolls a Nissan GTi-R at Millbrook Proving Ground. The Japanese hatchback is totalled.

Nov 30: Ukyo Katayama clinches the Japanese F3000 title at Fuji. His only rival, Ross Cheever, tangles with Kazuyoshi Hoshino on the second lap, which assures Larrousse’s new F1 signing of the crown.

Dec 1: Jordi Gene backs up his F3 heat win in Macau with his first outright F3 success of the year in the international F3 race at Fuji. David Coulthard finishes second, with Kazuaki Takamura best of the home drivers as Ralt’s RT35 claims the top three.

Dec 1: A last lap puncture robs Will Gollop (MG Metro 6R4) of victory in the British Rallycross Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, Pat Doran (Ford RS200) profits to lead home the Metro of Rob Gibson and Barry Squibb’s Escort. Mark Rennison wins the supporting Vauxhall Nova Challenge event.

Dec 1: Deposed FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre, attending the Rallye du Var, expresses his dissatisfaction with the new FISA regime’s plans (a rota system had been suggested, whereby only the Monte Carlo and Safari rallies were guaranteed annual inclusion on the calendar) to reduce the number of World Rally Championship rounds. Curiously, as president of the FFSA (the French motorsporting federation), he is particularly concerned about the possible downgrading of France’s only round of the series, the Tour de Corse. He calls an extraordinary general meeting of the FFSA to discuss the situation.

Dec 2: Pirelli, with no further F1 commitments, confirms that it is to tender for the contract to supply control tyres to the European F3000 Championship. Avon, which has done so since 1986, says it will fight to retain the business.

Dec 2: Ferrari sells GTO, its British research centre set up by John Barnard, to McLaren.

Dec 3: Due to Larrousse’s failure to satisfy financial obligations, Lola — which had supplied the French team with its F1 chassis for five years, — announces that it has terminated the collaboration henceforth. Lola’s next certain F1 obligation is in 1993, when it will run its own team.

Dec 4: British Touring Car champion Will Hoy, defects from Vic Lee’s BMW team and signs instead to partner Andy Rouse at Toyota.

Dec 5: McLaren announces its 1992 test team. Mark Blundell, out of a regular Grand Prix drive, takes over as lead development driver. Supporting roles go to Allan McNish and Jonathan Palmer.

Dec 5: FISA’s World Motor Sports Council, meets in Paris. The Sportscar World Championship, which previously appeared destined for the scrapheap, is reprieved for 1992. The World Rally Championship gets a full 14-event schedule and dates are set for 10 European F3000 Championship races, including the surprise nomination of the new Albacete track in Spain as host of the eighth round.

Dec 5: Allan McNish impresses experienced F3000 entrant Mike Earle with his testing pace at Silverstone, aboard a modified Ralt RT23. McNish concentrates on developing new-spec Avon radials, which prove to be significantly better than the equivalent 1991 product. Damon Hill reaches similar conclusions while testing the same tyres at Nogaro. Avon is taking Pirelli’s threat very seriously…

Dec 5: 1990 BTCC champion Robb Gravett is spotted testing a Peugeot 405 at Silverstone. Peugeot is expected to launch a factory assault on the series in 1992.

Dec 5: After an absence of three seasons, top French team Oreca announces that it will return to the European F3000 series.

Dec 6: Rumours in Italy point to John Barnard’s imminent return to Ferrari’s design team. Having met Luca di Montezemolo, Barnard admits that the idea interests him.

Dec 8: Juha Kankkunen wins rallying’s Race of Champions in Madrid.

Dec 8: Gabriele Tarquini wins the indoor F1 sprint challenge at the Bologna Motor Show, the Fomet pilot heading home Johnny Herbert’s Lotus.

Dec 8: The British circuit racing season concludes at Brands Hatch. Among the winter champions are Phil Ellis (Formula Forward), Duncan Vercoe (Formula First) and Chris Halt (Formula Ford).

Dec 9: Eddie Jordan welcomes Stefano Modena and Barclay to his F1 team, but has less welcome news in the shape of a £2m claim from Vickers plc, owner of Cosworth Engineering.