The month in Motor Sport

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108

March

15: Mark Blundell signs a surprise F1 test deal with McLaren.

15: Carlos Menem Junior, the rally-driving son of Argentina’s President, is tragically killed when the helicopter he is flying collides with power lines in the north of Buenos Aires province.

15: Toyota Team Europe confirms that Ian Duncan will return to defend his 1994 Safari Rally victory in a works Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD, even though this year’s event only counts towards the Two Litre World Championship.

15: Tyrrell finally confirms Mika Salo as Ukyo Katayama’s partner for the 1995 season.

15: Against expectations, Andrea Montermini signs to partner Bertrand Gachot at Pacific Team Lotus. His expected employer, Forti Grand Prix, responds by snapping up Roberto Moreno for the opening two races.

16: Just hours before it is freighted to Brazil, Simtek unveils its S951 Grand Prix contender.

17: McLaren ends intense speculation by announcing that Nigel Mansell will skip the Brazilian and Argentine Grands Prix, having been frustrated in his attempts to get comfortable in the MP4/10. Mark Blundell will substitute for his compatriot in the opening two races.

18: Alister McRae wins the opening round of the revitalised, “F2-only” British Rally Championship in his works Nissan Sunny GTi, beating all of the four-wheel drive cars into the bargain.

18: Paul Tracy bounces back from a poor Miami showing to win the second round of the PPG Indycar World Series at Surfers Paradise for Newman-Haas Racing. His team-mate Michael Andretti dominates before losing second gear and subsequently crashing out while defending second from eventual runner-up Bobby Rahal’s Lola. Stefan Johansson brightens up an miserable weekend for Penske by leading for six laps, only to go out with transmission failure.

18: Although he was originally announced by sponsor Elf as a member of the DAMS F3000 line-up, Christophe Tinseau is confirmed a member of the Mythos team. DAMS signs Tarso Marques in his place.

20: Despite a late injection of cash from the Junior Team, Gerard Larrousse’s outfit is forced to pull out of the Brazilian Grand Prix, as it is unable to modify one of last year’s LH94 cars in time. The team confirms that Christophe Bouchut and Eric Bernard will drive, with Eric Helary acting as test driver.

22: Last-minute negotiations in Brazil between the FIA and the GPDA avert the possibility of a drivers strike over the superlicence furore.

22: Nissan confirms that it is developing a four-wheel drive version of its Primera for Germany’s Super Tourenwagen Cup.

22: The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organiser of the Le Mans 24 Hours, reports over 100 entries for this year’s race.

22: Ligier and TWR confirm their involvement in the British F3 Championship, running a singleton Ligier Junior Team Dallara-Mugen for Jeremie Dufour.

23: Paul Radisich (Ford Mondeo) and Tim Harvey (Volvo 850) set the BTCC testing pace at Brands Hatch. Derek Warwick isn’t so lucky, enduring his first touring car shunt as he clatters the Clearways barriers in the Prodrive-run Alfa Romeo 155.

24: McLaren’s disclosure that it suffered a spillage during a refuelling practice prompts widespread concern that last year’s pit stop fire could be repeated in 1995.

25: Rumours circulate to the effect that Nigel Mansell might miss the first three Grands Prix of the season.

25: Experienced F1 designer Sergio Rinland joins Forti GP, leaving Dan Gurney’s fledging Indycar project.

26:A turbulent Brazilian Grand Prix weekend concludes with both the race-winning Benetton of Michael Schumacher and runner-up David Coulthard’s Williams being excluded from the results, amidst allegations that the Elf fuel they used during qualifying was different from that submitted to the FIA for pre-season analysis. A surprised Gerhard Berger finds himself the winner, launching Ferrari into the World Championship lead and the tifosi into overdrive. Damon Hill had retired from the lead with suspension failure.

26: The opening two rounds of the British F3 Championship fall to Ralph Firman Junior, the Norfolk teenager dominating Silverstone’s double-header in his PSR Dallara.

26: John Nielsen and Thomas Bscher notch up a third successive BPRO GT success for McLaren’s F1 at Monza.

26: Sterling Marlin wins the TranSouth 400 NASCAR race in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

26: A kit car wins a rally outright for the first time, as Bernard Munster powers his Clio Maxi to Circuit des Ardennes victory.

27: Prodrive boss David Richards confirms that Colin McRae may be drafted in to bolster Subaru’s Asia-Pacific title bid.

27: Alain Menu gives the first Williams Touring Car Engineering-built BTCC Renault Laguna a shakedown run at MIRA.

27: The FIA contemplates relaxing servicing restrictions for the Two Litre World Championship, in an attempt to boost the meagre level of support for the two-litre series.

30: The FIA confirms its rallying U-turn. Turbocharging and four-wheel drive are to be until the year 2000.

30: The FIA confirms that the Hungarian GP will take place. Another event, probably the Pacific GP at Aida, is tipped for the axe.

30: The FIA stresses that it never meant to imply that Elf had deliberately cheated during the Brazilian GP. An appeal date against the exclusions of Schumacher and Coulthard is set for April 13.

30: Ligier confirms that Aguri Suzuki will drive in the Argentine Grand Prix.

30: The FIA accords championship status to the BPR GT series, and also opens up F3’s strangling air restrictor regulation for 1997.

April

2: Volvo scores its first BTCC win at Donington Park, thanks to Rickard Rydell. John Cleland wins the first round of the series for Vauxhall, earlier in the day.

2: Robby Gordon scores his maiden Indycar victory at Phoenix. Greg Moore wins the FIL support race. Elsewhere in the States, Jeff Gordon takes his third NASCAR win of the year at Bristol.

2: The French F3 series kicks off at Ledenon, with victory for Alexandre Janoray. The French rally championship gets off to a sober start, with the death of Philippe Bugalski’s co-driver Thierry Renaud in an accident on the 17th stage.

5: Michael Schumacher reveals that he had narrowly escaped death during a holiday dive off the coast of Brazil. Unnoticed by its crew, his boat had slipped anchor and drifted away while the Benetton driver was underwater. His fellow divers were exhausted by their efforts to swim to the boat, but the superbly fit Schumacher eventually made it.

5: Brands Hatch Leisure is bought out by an independent investment group, Apax Partners. Nicola Foulston, the Chief Executive of BHL, becomes the Managing Director of the group, and she declares her commitment to the continuation of Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Snetterton and Oulton Park as motorsport centres.

4: The Scottish Motor Racing Club cancels its first two meetings planned for lngliston, and after almost exactly 30 years of racing, the Edinburgh circuit’s days look numbered.

5: HRH Duke of Kent opens the £5M refurbishment of Silverstone. This includes new pit garages, medical centre, service station, scrutineering bay and 1,400-metre track.

6: Carlos Reutemann makes a brief, but impressive, return to an F1 Ferrari cockpit. Driving a 3.5-litre ’94 Ferrari 412T1, the 52-year old Argentinian records the 11th fastest time during the teams’ acclimitisation runs at Buenos Aires.

6: Nicola Larini destroys the latest GTCC Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI at Mugello. He suffers no more than cuts and bruises in the shunt.

7: Scottish youngster Dario Franchitti badly damages the 1995 GTCC Mercedes C-Class when he rolls it at Hockenheim.

8: Toyota announces that Arciero/Wells will benefit from its engines in the 1996 PPG Indycar World Series.

8: The Subaru Legacy of Murray Grierson/Stewart Merry wins the second round of the Mintex National Series, the Granite City Rally.

9: Damon Hill puts the disappointment of Brazil behind him when he wins the Argentine Grand Prix at Buenos Aires. Ferrari’s Jean Alesi is second, ahead of a lacklustre Michael Schumacher. Hill’s Williams team-mate, David Coulthard, takes the first pole position of his Grand Prix career, and might have won but for an electrical problem.

9: Al Unser Jnr takes his tally of Long Beach Indycar wins to six, but second place behind the Penske driver is enough to lift Scott Pruett to the top of the points standings.

9: The McLaren F1 GTR of Ray Bellm/Maurizio Sandro Sala scores its third win from four starts in the BPRO GT Championship when it is victorious at Jarama.

9: Dale Earnhardt increases his lead in the NASCAR Winston Cup with a win at North Wilkesboro — his first victory of the season.

9: The second round of the All-Japan F3000 Championship at Fuji is rained off after just one lap.

9: Guy Smith takes a double victory in the second round of the Formula Renault Eurocup at Barcelona after the Ermollis that finished first and second in both heats are disqualified because of illegal engines.

9:Teenage karting star Matthew Davies scores his first car win with victory in the third round of the Formula Renault Elf Campus Cup at Albi.

9: Richard Moore/Alun Cook win the fourth round of the EARS/ Motoring News National Tarmac Rally Series, the Tour of Cornwall, in a Subaru Impreza 555.

9: Mickey Farrell/Anthony Nestor extend their lead in the Coras/Vard RIAC Rally Championship when their Subaru Legacy prevails on the Circuit of Kerry.

10: Volvo’ s Rickard Rydell sets the quickest time during the official BTCC test at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.

12:The RACMSA urges all fans of stage rallying to write to their MP as the future of the sport in the Lake District, the east side of Kielder, Otterburn, North Yorkshire, Brendon Hills and much of North Wales is threatened by a new Environment Bill, the second reading of which is due on April 18.

13: An FIA Court of Appeal restores Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard to the results of the Brazilian GP, on the grounds that neither driver had done anything wrong, nor had either gained a performance advantage. Benetton and Williams are, however, fined $200,000 each, and neither is granted constructors’ championship points. Ferrari, in particular, is angered by the verdict (see page 430).

14: Derek Bell appears certain to renege on his decision not to race again at Le Mans The 53 year-old Briton is set to drive the Harrods McLaren alongside son Justin and Andy Wallace.

14: Dutch veteran Jan Lammers signs to contest the FIA F3000 series with Vortex Motorsport, at the age of 38.

16:Yoshio Fujimoto becomes the first Japanese driver ever to win the Safari Rally.

17: Volvo’s Tim Harvey wins both BTCC rounds at a wet Brands Hatch. At Thruxton, Oliver Gavin bags a similar F3 double.

17: Renault scores its first F3 victory for 15 years thanks to David Dussau at Nogaro, where the opening rounds of the French touring car series are won by Laurent Aiello (Peugeot) and Yvan Muller (BMW). In Italy, Gianluca Paglicci takes a brace of F3 victories at Magione.

17: Bertie Fisher finally wins the Circuit of Ireland, at his 21st attempt.

17: Mike Turpin wins the second round of the British Rallycross Championship, at Lydden Hill.

18: Larrousse announces that it will not, after all, be contesting the World F1 Championship. The French team had hoped to commence its season in San Marino.

18: Nigel Mansell tests a McLaren MP4/10 in the wet at Silverstone. He won’t drive a bespoke version of the car until the acclimatisation run two days before the San Marino GP at Imola.

18: Nissan confirms that Ivan Capelli will test its 4wd Primera touring car shortly.

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