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Archive for December, 2006

Prema Powerteam and Toyota Motorsport GmbH has reached an agreement to extend their partnership for another enthusiastic season in the Eurocup and the Italian series of the Formula Renault 2.0. Angelo Rosin’s team has been with Toyota Motorsport GmbH for seven consecutive seasons to date, establishing itself as a reference and the gateway for the Toyota Drivers Program. Prema will support three young drivers who are part of the development program of the world’s leading car manufacture.

Prema will start their second season challenge with Henki Waldschmidt, born in Den Haag (Holland) the 28-06-88 and with Martin Plowman, born in Burton Upon Trent (Great Britain) the 3-10-87. They will be joined by Andrea Caldarelli born in Pescara (Italy) the 14-02-90, who has been participating in the Formula Renault 2.0 Italian championship and obtained a pole position at the opening round in Mugello, despite his very young age.

Angelo Rosin – Team Principal
“For a seventh straight year we are proud to be a partner of Toyota in their young drivers program. To be chosen by the biggest car manufacturer in the world is a great reward for the hard work of the whole team over the last few years. This year we brought Martin and Henki into the car racing world, after various success in karting. For next year, they will be joined by a young Italian ,Andrea Caldarelli. Andrea is the first ever Italian to be selected for the TDP program. Next year it will be important to put into place everything learned during this year ‘to be able to fight for race wins and the championship title”

Yoshinori Arimatsu – TDP Manager:
“It is our great pleasure to continue our continuous partnership with Prema Power. Our 2006 season was tough year for both Prema and us since we have committed to the new drivers from karting, but it was something expected. However , I have to point out that our drivers will have a second year benefit, and will be able to fight the championship. We are also welcomes Andrea in our program. He showed natural speed and took our attention, and I am sure Prema will be able to guide him a real challenger…”

Andrea Caldarelli:
“I am really happy to have this great opportunity, to race with a competitive team like Prema and to be a part of the program like Toyota. It is almost like a dream that Toyota came to offer me the 2007 season. From my part, I will try not to be disappointed their expectations on me and I will do my best to deliver good results.”

Henki Waldschmidt:
“First of all I would like to thank Toyota for all the support given me in the 2006. To be part of their program also in 2007 it’s a pleasure. This year wasn’t so easy as I have just moved from karting to car. Anyway together with Prema I have learn a lot. They teached me several things and I will be happy to thank bo th of them with great result in this new season. Formula Renault 2.0 Italia and Eurocup are two very strong championships and I hope to be one of the front runners.”

Martin Plowman:
“I would like to thank Toyota for their continued support of me for the 2007 season, after giving me my break to make the transition from karts to cars for the 2006 season. It was a tough year in which I had a lot to learn, my thanks also go to the Prema power team who aided my transition, helping me to achieve my first Pole position and podium finish. For 2007, I hope to continue my learning curve and with the experience acquired this year I hope I will be in a better position to deliver good results and fight for the championship to repay Toyota’s faith in me.”

Alexandre Imperatori

Up and coming Swiss driver Alexandre Imperatori took the last win of the season held at Southern China’s Zhuhai International Circuit. Running second in the championship, the Asia Racing Team frontrunner knew that the chances of taking the Asian series crown was very little as the only way he could seize it is if the series leader scored not better than a fifth place: “I will simply just do my best to win the race and we’ll just have to see how good that will make” he explained before the event.

Taking full advantage of his knowledge of the track, the young driver was the dominant force, posting fastest lap in each and every official practice session all the way up to pole position during qualifying. With a time of 1m35s.4, he outperformed team mate Jazeman Firhan Jaafar. Third was 2005 German Formula Renault champion and erstwhile series leader Pekka Saarinen half a second clear.

With the final round announced to be conducted by a rolling start, it became a nightmare as being on the outside meant Imperatori practically lost the advantage of occupying grid number 1. Imperatori quickly recognized that is was going to be critical and Jazeman, in fact had quite easily gotten alongside immediately after the green light. To compensate for the helpless loss, Imperatori dove to the outside of Jazeman at turn 1 and managed to pass the young Malay, who was himself fighting with Saarinen. Jazeman lost his front grip and ended up driving straight into the leader Imperatori. To avoid contact, the Swiss had to go off track and dropped to third. He then started to catch up, but with only eight laps in the race he only managed to pass team mate Jazeman for second position in the last lap before the latter made another controversial move, eventually sending his team mate Imperatori in the grass again. Thus, Imperatori finished the race in third.

Imperatori commented “It is regretful that this race got ruined by an organizer’s decision to make a rolling start when it has been standing start all season, clearly giving disadvantage to pole sitter. But it also sad that it went further wrong because of my own teammate’s errors”.

The result of the race thus ended the 13-round 2006 Asian Formula Renault Challenge. A second race, this time 20 laps ‘round the 4.3 km Zhuhai Circuit was a special one-off race and Imperatori was looking forward to show all his potential. For this “feature” race, the starting procedure was back to standing start and the ART leader went off the grid well, tackling Jazeman for second position. The first three were packed, following each other, and in lap 5, Imperatori took advantage of the fight between Saarinen and Jazeman to take the lead of the race. He then started to build a gap as Saarinen appeared unable to match the pace set by the leader. But the appearance of safety car in lap 8, to clear the track of a damaged car, meant Imperatori would have to make the effort again. And so did he; when the safety car came back to the pits, he started pulling a gap again and continued pushing even when Saarinen was no longer in striking distance. On his way to the win, the young driver set fastest lap by over 6 tenths of a second and finished the race with more than eight seconds advantage over Finnish driver Saarinen.

This strong performance was not enough to grab the Asian title, but Imperatori was still happy with the outcome: “I am so happy to take this clear win: we have proven the potential seen this season and it has been a great end to a great season. I am especially happy because I showed I can be very competitive against experienced European drivers. I did the best by winning the race but it was just not enough to get the title; this was not up to me anymore.”

Imperatori has been officially crowned the 2006 Chinese Formula Renault Champion and 1st Runner Up in the Asian Formula Renault Challenge. He also contributed a healthy amount of points to bring the Asia Racing Team to win the Asian Formula Renault Team Championship Title.

“My utmost appreciation and I share the glory of my performance to the team. They undoubtedly did a great job all year by providing me with the best possible car and the confidence to pursue podium results. We will now see what happens for the next season and I hope it will start and continue in same way this one ended: BY A WIN!” concluded an enthusiastic Imperatori.

Rodolfo Avila has secured a test deal with British F3 International Series team’s Performance Racing Europe. The Macanese was invited by the Sweden founded and UK based team to drive the Championship Class car Dallara F306-Mügen Honda on the 19th and 20th at Valencia, Spain.

After conquering the 4th position in the 2006 British F3 National Class championship, Rodolfo Avila is evaluating his options for next season. The Macau SAR official driver wants to continue his career in the highest level of the world motorsport. This test will give Avila the opportunity to try the car he drove at Macau Grand Prix where the Macanese motorsport biggest hope didn’t showed all his talent because of qualifying engine troubles and an early accident at Fishermen’s Bend.

“I want to exploit this chance to return to the cockpit of the car I drove at Macau. I expect to get back to my normal pace quite fast as I don’t drive a racing car for a while. I’m looking forward to know the new team members. The team had a serious reorganization after the end of the last season and I believe Performance Racing is stronger than ever. I’m going to do my best at Valencia as there will be many others competitors from F3 world”, says Rodolfo Avila.

It is early to make a final decision concerning the 2007 season but the Macanese driver wishes to return to the place that saw him debuting in European racing. “I’d like to keep racing in Formula 3 and in England. I want to develop my driver career in a top championship to maintain Macau represented on the famous tracks around the world. Definitely I’m looking for a racing seat in a top team. Let’s wait and see. The last word will be said by my sponsors. I want to show them again my gratitude for their incredible support during 2006”, confess the 19 years old driver.

Tim SladeJust twenty-one points is all that has separated Dexion Racing’s Tim Slade from the Australian Formula Ford Championship after one of the most competitive years on record for the open wheel category.

The Dexion-supported driver missed the title by the agonizingly narrow margin after a difficult round at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit at the weekend, year-long rival John Martin taking the series in the final race despite Slade doing everything he could to snare the crown.

This weekend’s final round continued the year long rivalry between the pair and despite the letdown, has continued to prove that Slade is ready for the next big step in his career.

“It’s disappointing,” Slade said.

“It’s been a really tough weekend. We started off slow but the team worked really hard to get the car back onto the pace.

“It’s been a massive year and despite loosing the championship there have been some pretty significant positives. We have won five races, set three consecutive pole positions and set a couple of lap records so it hasn’t been all bad.

“I have to thank the crew at Sonic Motor Racing Services for their support, as well as my Dad. The year couldn’t have happened without either of them. Our relationship with Dexion has also been fantastic and it looks like that we have some exciting things for the future that I’m really looking forward too.” He said.

Slade qualified his Dexion / Sonic Motor Racing Van Diemen third on the 16-car grid Friday evening, setting a lap just .13s behind pole and less than half that margin behind Martin, who qualified second.

That intensity would again show during the first 9-lap event held on Saturday, the two combatants never split by more than one car as they raced for the championship. After a gritty battle, Slade made a last-lap draft on the start-finish straight to just miss beating Martin at the line by less than a tenth of a second.

Still leading the championship race by a point, today’s second race proved to be a dramatic affair that would have significant bearing on the championship.

After running as high as second in the early stages, Slade was still ahead of Martin – who was fourth – coming into the final tour of the nine-lap race.

Martin then dived underneath Slade into the hairpin, following a clash between the race leaders who were just in front of the championship protagonists. Heading into the following corner, Slade touched the rear of the Rising Star spectrum after Martin slowed unexpectedly mid-corner.

The resulting contact left Slade’s nose box stuck underneath the front suspension and essentially ended the race for the Dexion driver, who was left to finish eighth.

Slade – caught up in the midfield – then scrapped home 9th in the third and final race this afternoon to cap off his championship year.

“Race two was probably the race that decided it,” Slade said.

“The leaders came together into the Hairpin after a safety car period – before that I’d had a good lead over Martin and it was looking pretty good.

“Then John passed me with a late move and then seemed to slow going through Siberia. I just tagged the back of his car mid corner and the hit broke the nose box off my car and got it caught underneath the front suspension.

“I battled hard in the third race but once you are in the pack it’s pretty hard. There were some pretty wild moves going on.” He said.

“We had some good speed this weekend. The car wasn’t that great early on but my team worked very hard and the car was getting better.

”It’s not the way I wanted to end the year but the season has been good, for the most part, I’ve learnt a lot and the future is looking interesting.”

Slade finished the season second in the championship, just twenty-one points (300 – 279) behind Martin after eight rounds and 30 races. His successful season included five race wins, and more pole positions than any other driver in the series this year.

Tony EvangelouDexion Racing has endured a difficult yet ultimately satisfying induction to the V8 Supercar Championship Series at this weekend’s Caterpillar Grand Finale’ at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

Driver Tony Evangelou put in a workmanlike performance to bring his Dexion Racing BA Falcon home in two of the three races and cap off a strong season that has seen the team consistently inside the top ten in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar series.

Answering the call from Team Kiwi Racing, Evangelou and the Dexion Racing Falcon logged their first V8 Supercar championship series laps in Friday’s 135-minute practice session, before going on to qualify the car 30th – but less than three tenths behind full-time V8 Supercar drivers Paul Morris and Brad Jones.

The team gained two places to complete race one – a 100km affair held Saturday afternoon – in 28th position.

Race two would prove to be an unlucky affair for the Dexion Falcon, Evangelou caught up in a number of incidents that put the team onto the back foot whilst running inside the top 25.

Early in the event a steering arm was bent after contact with Marcus Marshall, before further contact with the similar Falcon of Jose Fernandez damaged the front diffuser of the Dexion Racing Falcon.

Evangelou was then ordered to pit lane by race officials due to the loose bodywork on the Dexion Falcon and ended up four laps short of receiving the flag.

Things looked to be going worse at the beginning of the third and final race of the year, the car stopping on the formation lap and eventually starting the race from the pit exit, once the field had passed.

Rebounding from the difficulties, Evangelou then posted a strong performance to avoid the chaos surrounding him to finish the race a strong and satisfying 25th, scoring 44 championship series points for his weekend’s efforts.

“We had a coming together in the second race with Marcus Marshall that bent the steering arm,” Evangelou said.

“Things were going really well up to that point – we weren’t making huge progress but we had made some ground through the field and it was going well. I had made a ripper start and we were definitely on for a top 25 finish.

“Unfortunately after that we had an incident with Jose Fernandez that damaged the front bar – we got a meatball flag and unfortunately DNF’d a few laps from home.”

Evangelou explained that the race three dramas were down to the hot weather conditions, and a slow pace lap as the field lined up for the season finale’.

“At the start of the third race everyone banked up coming down into MG on the formation lap,” he said.

“We have been having some heat soak issues throughout the season and the car just stalled and then wouldn’t refire. The safety crews weren’t mucking around so they towed us back to pit lane straight away.

“Fortunately the car re-fired straight away and we were able to have a really good race to finish 25th.”

Achieving his aim of bringing the car home in one piece this weekend, Tony said that making the step up into the Championship series was a risk well worth taking.

”If we were running in the Fujitsu series this weekend we would have been inside the top three, but this was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” he said.

“This is an opportunity we would never have got, and probably won’t get again at this stage, so it was worth it for the experience alone.

“The boys did a great job this weekend and they all learnt a lot. We did more laps and got so much data which will set us up for next year when it looks like Tim (Slade) will be driving the car.

“Everyone has worked so hard and it’s been a very satisfying weekend for us.”

The Dexion Racing BA Falcon will return to the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Championship in 2007, the season set to get underway at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, March 1 – 4.

Team BRM is pleased to today confirm that it has signed rising South Australian talent Paul Pittam as its first full time driver in the Australian Formula Ford Championship.

17-year-old Pittam will drive a Team BRM Van Diemen Formula Ford chassis with sponsorship from International Real Estate Company L.J. Hooker – a majority of the support coming from L.J.Hooker Gawler and Doyles on the Bay – and will sport a distinctive Red, Yellow and Black livery that will ensure the car stands out from the field.

Gawler-based Pittam is one of the brightest young drivers on the Australian Motorsport landscape, thanks to a meteoric rise from the ranks of Karting to Formula Ford in the space of only a few years – a process that has firmly established him as a star of the future.

The conformation of the 2007 program fulfills Team BRM’s objectives to recognize and foster young South Australian talent and assist their development on a national stage.

Despite only stepping into a race car for the first time in 2004, Paul has a successful background in both Karting and Formula Ford competition.

Pittam began karting aged just 10 in a second-hand kart and against vastly more experienced drivers, showing his mettle at an early age.

In 2003 he won the Junior National Light Tasmanian State Championship – his first major championship victory, before following up with a win in the 2004 Tasmanian Junior National Heavy championship, Pittam also tasting Back to back success in the Junior Pro Class at the city of Adelaide Titles the same years.

Then 15, Pittam contested the Junior Intercontinental A CIK Championship in 2004 (finishing fourth) before testing his first formula ford at the invitation of CAMS and their Rising Star program. Recognizing his potential, CAMS continued to support Pittam throughout the 2005 season as he began his development from karting – while competing in the Intercontinental A CIK Championship, where he finished 2nd for the year – to Open Wheel racing.

The 2006 season has seen Paul contest the Victorian Formula Ford Championship as part of the Rising Star squad, finishing 6th in the championship thanks to a year capped off by a podium finish at the final round, held at Phillip Island recently.

“I am really excited to be joining team BRM,” Said Pittam.

”It’s something I’m really looking forward too. I have been spending some time with the team at test days and race meetings and they have been going really well.

“The guys have been fantastic to work with during the time I have spent with them so next year should be really good. It’s great that the team is South Australian-based and I’m looking to come out at the first round as strong as I can.

”I think a Top Ten championship finish in my first year is a very realistic proposition,” he said.

“We are delighted to welcome Paul to Team BRM for the 2007 Australian Formula Ford Championship,” Team BRM Formula Ford director Mark Rundle said.

“Paul is clearly an exciting talent and has already achieved great things in a short career behind the wheel of a Formula Ford. We certainly hope that his joining Team BRM is the start of an all-out championship attack in 2007 in what could be a fantastic stepping stone towards the future for Paul.

“We showed our potential this season in the few rounds we contested. Our relationship with Van Diemen is fantastic and we have some fantastic developments for the cars in the pipeline for 2007.” added Rundle.

“Next year will be an exciting year for our team as we seek to add a National Formula Ford Championship to our Australian Drivers Championship Gold Star award we won this season in Formula 3.”

Team BRM will run a multi-car program in the 2007 Australian Formula Ford Championship with announcements regarding the team’s complete lineup anticipated in due course.