The month in MOTOR SPORT
Jan 14: Lola unveils the T92/00 Indycar. The first two chassis go to the Hall-VDS and Dick Simon teams respectively.
Jan 14: Tom Walkinshaw Racing confirms that it will be supplying cars to Alan Randall’s new RM Motorsport team for the 1992 Sportscar World Championship. To satisfy the requirements of sprint events, endurance races and the Le Mans 24 Hours, Randall orders no fewer than eight cars, a mixture of XJR-12s, XJR-14s and new XJR-17s. RMM puts four cars in for the SWC, the future of which has still to be clarified at the time of entry. Randall’s long-term objective is to be in F1 by 1995.
Jan 14: It is announced that Andrea Moda Formula’s new F1 car, the Judd V10-powered S291, will be built in Britain, at Simtek Research’s Banbury HQ.
Jan 15: The new Ferrari-powered Dallara BMS192 is launched in Brescia.
Jan 16: The Paris-Cape Town Rally ends, with Hubert Auriol heading home a Mitsubishi Pajero 1-2-3 and Stephane Peterhansel winning the two-wheeled section. Organiser Gilbert Sabine upsets the South African welcoming committee by suggesting that not enough fuss was made of the arriving competitors. This places a question mark over Cape Town’s suitability as a finishing point.
Jan 18: Ligier releases photographs of its new Renault-powered JS37, which for the time being has only Thierry Boutsen’s name stencilled on its flanks. Team patron Guy Ligier is optimistic, claiming in an interview with a French sporting weekly that he hopes “we can get within a second of the Williams-Renaults”. Boutsen’s partner will either be Alain Prost, if complicated contractual negotiations can be worked out, or 1991 team member Erik Comas.
Jan 19: A Ligier-Renault is seen testing at Paul Ricard. The overalls are white and the helmet is that of Erik Comas: beneath the disguise lurks Alain Prost. The test attracts almost as big a crowd as there were paying spectators at last year’s Magny-Cours Sportscar World Championship round . . . Several teams are present at the test. Damon Hill emerges fastest ahead of Williams sidekick Riccardo Patrese. Prost apart, other novelties include Christian Fittipaldi’s maiden outing for Minardi and Andrea Montermini’s stint for the Larrousse team, at the helm of a 1990 Lola-Lamborghini.
Jan 19: Craig Baird continues to dominate the New Zealand International Formula Atlantic series, maintaining his 100 per cent record with a brace of victories at Wigram. Welshman Julian Westwood keeps him on his toes in the second race, and strengthens his grip on second place in the points standings.
Jan 20: FISA confirms that the Sportscar World Championship, apparently axed in December, will definitely go ahead.
Jan 21: The SWC gets a further boost when Derek Warwick signs for Peugeot.
Jan 22: Jordan GP launches its new F1 contender, the Yamaha-powered 192, at its new factory opposite Silverstone.
Jan 22: Hiroyuki Kaneda, formerly one of Honda’s top F1 engineers, joins John Judd’s team of specialists to work on the GV V10 and other projects.
Jan 22: Derek Warwick has his first run in a Peugeot 905 at Paul Ricard.
Jan 23: The Mugen-powered Footwork FA13 runs for the first time, Michele Alboreto being entrusted with shakedown duties at Silverstone.
Jan 23: After a dismal year with Ford, Alex Fiorio — son of axed Ferrari team director Cesare — announces his return to the World Rally Championship. The Italian will contest selected events in a factory-supported Lancia Delta.
Jan 24: Only a few days after its survival has been guaranteed, the SWC hits a fresh controversy. The Autopolis race, originally scheduled for April 5 and later cancelled, is tipped to go ahead after all, putting immense strain on teams’ preparation time and budgets.
Jan 24: Not content with having bought a controlling share in the Larrousse F1 team, Venturi announces a six-race series for its 400 bhp Renault V6 turbo-powered coupé. Only amateurs are eligible for the Gentlemen Drivers’ Trophy.
Jan 25: Trevor Smith and Roger Jones win the opening round of the Mintex National Rally Championship, the Mazda Car-Line Winter Rally. Their Ford Sierra Cosworth is followed home by the surprising Group N Subaru Legacy of Richard Burns/Robert Reid.
Jan 26: A familiar name finishes second in the opening round of the South African FF1600 series in Cape Town. Jaki Scheckter is the 19 year-old son of former F1 racer Ian, and nephew of 1979 world champion Jody. Scheckter is beaten only by expatriate Briton Ian Schofield, formerly a regular in Formula E and Champion of Oulton FF1600 events.
Jan 26: Alain Prost has another run in the Ligier JS37 at Paul Ricard. Speculation that the triple world champion will sign for the team is heightened by competitive lap times, Prost dipping below Damon Hill’s Williams benchmark from the previous weekend.
Jan 26: Craig Baird takes his eighth straight Formula Atlantic victory, winning the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild. Julian Westwood finishes fourth, to retain a mathematical chance of overhauling Baird’s huge points advantage.
Jan 27: Frenchman Laurent Aiello is linked with the prize Marlboro F3000 drive. 1991 champion Pacific Racing looks set to land the deal.
Jan 27: The British Touring Car Championship starts to take shape as the works-blessed Prodrive BMW team confirms that Tim Sugden and Alain Menu will fly the Bavarian flag this year. Peugeot also confirms the expected news that its new factory team will be led by former BTCC champion Robb Gravett.
Jan 28: Didier Auriol wins the Monte Carlo Rally, giving the Jolly Club a successful start in its new role as Lancia’s factory representative on the world rally stage.
Jan 28: Julian Bailey is the latest recruit to the RM Motorsport Jaguar SWC line-up.
Jan 28: Keke Rosberg tests an AMG Mercedes 190 at Estoril. The former world champion subsequently agrees to a season of touring car racing in Germany.
Jan 30: Olivier Grouillard signs for Tyrrell.
Jan 30: FISA refuses to issue Akihiko Nakaya with the necessary F1 superlicence, leaving Brabham less than a week before driver nominations close to find a suitably funded replacement. Roman lady Giovanna Amati is hotly tipped to take the spare seat alongside Eric van de Poele.
Jan 30: Van Diemen launches its new F3 car at Snetterton. Japanese F3 champion Paulo Carcasci drives it, though the Brazilian is committed to a season of F3000 in the Far East and won’t race the RF93. Duckhams will sponsor the works car in the British Championship; a driver has still to be confirmed, though Formula Renault star Jason Plato is believed to be favourite.
Jan 10: Ferrari reports that Niki Lauda may rejoin the team for whom he won two world titles, this time acting as a consultant.
Feb 2: Nissan becomes the first Japanese manufacturer to take outright victory in the Daytona 24 Hours. The NISMO-entered Nissan R91 of Masahiro Hasemi, Toshio Suzuki and Kazuyoshi Hoshino beats the Davy Jones/Scott Pruett/Scott Goodyear/David Brabham Jaguar by nine clear laps.
Feb 2: Paul Radisich pips Craig Baird in the first of two races at Baypark, the first time the latter has been beaten in the New Zealand International Formula Atlantic series. Baird reverses the result in the second event, and in doing so clinches the championship. Julian Westwood takes a fourth and a second to keep hold of second spot in the points table.
Feb 3: The Venturi-Larrousse LC92 is launched in Paris. Designed by Tino Belli and Robin Herd, the brightly liveried F1 challenger took just over three months from conception to completion.
Feb 3: Jordan’s F1 line-up is settled. Mauricio Gugelmin signs as Stefano Modena’s teammate, leaving Alessandro Zanardi out in the cold.
Feb 3: Williams confirms that it is to retain Damon Hill’s services as its official F1 test driver.
Feb 3: FISA issues official lists of registrations for its 1992 championships. There are 32 entries in F1, 20 in Group C and 21 in F3000. though the last two figures are provisional. Several F3000 teams are known to be biding their time.
Feb 3: Brands Hatch Leisure gets the go-ahead to rechristen the British F3000 series. British F2 comes into being.
Feb 3: Ford announces details of the Ford Rapid Fit Open Formula Ford Championship, the premier national series for a category celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Feb 5: Deadline day at FISA: F1 driver nominations close. Brabham’s recruitment of Giovanna Amati comes as no great shock, and Tyrrell’s decision to snap up Jordan refugee Alessandro Zanardi makes perfect sense. There is no apparent place for Alain Prost at Ligier, where Thierry Boutsen and Erik Comas keep their places. Ligier says that things may change in due course, however. Bertrand Gachot’s wad of francs earns him the second seat at Venturi-Larrousse, and Enrico Bertaggia outbids his rivals for the spare berth at Andrea Moda Formula. March Formula One, more recently known as Leyton House, retains the services of Karl Wendlinger, who will be partnered by French F3000 graduate Paul Belmondo, a name not at the forefront of media speculation during the close season.
Feb 5: Just when you thought it was all over . . . Michael Schumacher becomes centre of another tug-of-war. Sauber announces that the young German star will drive for its new F1 team, set to debut in 1993. Benetton says that it has him under contractual lock and key. Less controversially, Sauber nominates Karl Wendlinger as Schumacher’s future team-mate, lawyers permitting.
Feb 6: Ferrari’s new GP challenger, the F92A, is launched at Maranello.
Feb 6: F1 testing continues apace. Martin Brundle is quickest at Paul Ricard, where Benetton, Footwork, Dallara and Venturi-Larrousse are encamped, and Nigel Mansell sets the pace at Estoril, venue for Williams, Ligier and Jordan.
Feb 6: Mazda, BTCC champion in 1980 with Win Percy and the RX-7, announces its return to the discipline. Patrick Watts will campaign a 323F prepared by Roger Dowson. The BTCC is further enriched by the confirmation of David Leslie’s participation at the wheel of a Ray Mallock-run Vauxhall Cavalier.
Feb 6: The British Motorsport Foundation is announced at the Motoring News/Earls Court Motor Racing Show. Beneficiaries in the first season will be Oliver Gavin (Formula Vauxhall Lotus) and Duncan Vercoe (Formula First).
Feb 7: Christophers Thompson and Pringle score a surprise win on the Monte Carlo Challenge in their Aston Martin DB4.
Feb 8: The New Zealand Formula Atlantic series ends in processional fashion at Pukekohe. Champion Craig Baird wins both races, with series runner-up Julian Westwood trailing home second on each occasion.
Feb 8: In Ireland, Kenny McKinstry wins the Galway Rally for Subaru. In the Forest of Dean, Pete Doughty takes Wyedean Stages honours in his Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4. In Scotland, John Gray takes his similar machine to victory on the Snowman Rally.
Feb 10: A problem with wheel supply forces Mazda to withdraw its Swedish Rally entry.
Feb 10: Jordan GP announces that South African oil giant Sasol will be its principal backer this season.
Feb 10: Toyota’s future participation in F1 looks increasingly likely; the currently underemployed John Barnard admits he has been to the Norfolk HQ of the Japanese giant’s sporting subsidiary, TOM’S.
Feb 10: FISA’s fax machine is buzzing again, distributing revised championship entry details around the globe. Interest in both the SWC and European F3000 series has increased; Group C now has 21 prospective entrants, the single-seater category 35. Among the Group C nominees is Franz Konrad, who has signed Bob Wollek to co-drive his Konrad-Lamborghini.
Feb 12: Tony Pond Racing launches the TPR Metro 4100, designed for both rally and race usage. Pond himself plans to rally such a machine in the Irish Tarmac Championship.
Feb 12: The Ford HB-powered Lotus 102D runs for the first time at Hethel.
Feb 14: Tyrrell registers the first driver change of the F1 season . . . The unfortunate Alessandro Zanardi is pipped to the chequered flag by Andrea de Cesaris’s pot of gold.
Feb 14: Nelson Piquet signs a deal with Menard Racing to drive a Lola-Buick in the Indianapolis 500.
Feb 16: Mats Jonsson (Toyota) wins the Swedish Rally. British hearts are lifted by Colin McRae’s superb second place for Subaru.
Feb 16: Davey Allison wins NASCAR’s season opener, the Daytona 500.
Feb 17: The sport of Prost conjecture continues apace. The latest buzz is that the Frenchman is talking to the nascent Sauber F1 team . . .
Feb 17: Ousted from F1, Alessandro Zanardi enters negotiations with the II Barone Rampante F3000 team, with whom he made his name in 1991.