VAIRANO, ITALY, February 8, 2001 - European Formula Racing flexed its motorsport muscle last Saturday in an unusual test at the Vairano circuit in northern Italy. The Ledbury, UK-based operation, which is part of the European ...
VAIRANO, ITALY, February 8, 2001 - European Formula Racing flexed its motorsport muscle last Saturday in an unusual test at the Vairano circuit in northern Italy. The Ledbury, UK-based operation, which is part of the European Aviation Group of Companies owned by expatriate Australian businessman, Paul Stoddart, now boasts a formidable presence in the top levels of single-seater motor racing.
By way of underlining that point, the team rolled out examples of its European Minardi F1, European Minardi F3000 and European Minardi F1x2 chassis at the private test track, near Milan, before giving each of them a series of shakedown runs.
It was a particularly satisfying moment for Stoddart, who last week succeeded in realising his lifelong ambition of owning a Formula One team by acquiring the Italian-based Minardi organisation. His intention is to merge Minardi with European Formula Racing, while ensuring Minardi retains its unique identity and continues to operate out of its Faenza factory, near Bologna.
The Formula One car was entrusted to Spanish teenage sensation, Fernando Alonso, while young Dutch charger, Christian Albers, handled the Formula 3000 chassis and Paul Stoddart himself took the wheel of the Formula One two-seater and acted as "chauffeur" for a number of willing passengers. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the sight of the three very distinctive European Minardi cars circulating the Italian track in a high-speed convoy. It was a unique occasion and an example of the "free-thinking'' approach that has frequently been a hallmark of Stoddart's business and motorsport endeavours.
"We thought it would be a great idea just to get the lads and the cars together from our operations in the UK and Italy so they could get to know one another and also blow off the cobwebs that inevitably build up during the off-season," explained Paul Stoddart. "We can't honestly claim to have made any technical gains with the cars as a result of this particular test, but it was still worthwhile to give them a shakedown and it was definitely a useful team- building exercise.
"Everyone, both at Faenza and at Ledbury, is working flat out to ensure a pair of European Minardis are on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix, in Melbourne. Today's programme just served to remind us all of the business we're in, which is motor racing. Like all top sports, it requires high levels of expertise and a lot of hard work to achieve success, but it also requires passion and dedication. I sensed all of those elements were here today, and that makes me optimistic for the future. We're all realists and we know we have a huge job ahead of us, but we also know we can do it and that a lot of the fun is going to be in the journey that takes us from here to there."