Petrobras signs Pizzonia, Sperafico

Brazilians Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico have been anounced by Petrobras Junior Team as its drivers for season 2001 replacing champion Bruno Junqueira and his partner Jaime Melo Jr. During the press conference held in Sao Paulo, a ...

Brazilians Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico have been anounced by Petrobras Junior Team as its drivers for season 2001 replacing champion Bruno Junqueira and his partner Jaime Melo Jr. During the press conference held in Sao Paulo, a couple of days ago, the young drivers talked about their expectations concerning their "debut" at the F-3000 International Championship.


Ricardo Sperafico, Antonia Pizzonia Photo: Helio Norio

"Our first race in Sao Paulo will be very difficult. On the one hand, it is a pleasure to race at home. On the other hand, I wish it was the last race so that I would have time to gain experience. It will be the first time I race in Brazil since I left the country four years ago", said the Jungle Boy Pizzonia, 20, who won the British F-3 championship last year.

Pizzonia will be testing at the Interlagos circuit by the end of January.

"I need to get used to the car. They are heavier, more powerful and have a better break system than the ones I know by now", completed the Jungle Boy, born in Manaus, next to the Amazon River.

His partner at Petrobras Junior Team will be the 21-year old Ricardo Sperafico, from Parana, in the southern part of Brazil. His credentials are as impressive as the ones from Pizzonia: last year Sperafico won the Italian F-3000 Championship.

"I have a little advantage over my opponents because I am already used to the car. I've also raced in Monza and Interlagos, the circuits which will be part of the calendar for the first time. I think this also can help me", said Sperafico.

Petrobras, the biggest Brazilian oil company, believes that the cost of the team for this season will be around US$ 2.4 million, from what 45% of it comes from the drivers and their personal sponsors.

"We have no interference in choosing the drivers. Mr. Paul Jackson and Mr. David Sears are in charge of it. Petrobras just wants that both drivers are Brazilians", said Mr. Claudio Thompson, who coordinates Petrobras' motor sports sponsorships

"We were surprised to see Sperafico's performance during the tests in Jerez de la Frontera and Barcelona", said British Paul Jackson, who already knew Pizzonia's way of driving.

To reach an agreement with Petrobras Junior Team, Pizzonia had to say no to several F-1 racing teams.

"I think it was the best choice to sign with Petrobras. The teams which wanted me as test driver wanted also to sign a three-year contract, what I think is too much. I am not experienced enough to race with a F-1 and I guess after this season I will be able to find something better for me", said Pizzonia.

Petrobras boss Claudio Thompson says the company will make no pressure over the drivers to win the teams championship nor the drivers championship.

"We know it is their first season at the F-3000 Internacional Championship. We just want them to perform as well as they did in the lower categories", said Mr. Thompson.

"We want to fight for the title but it is important to have in mind that it is our first year here and that Bruno Junqueira, for example, won the championship in his third year at the F-3000", said Pizzonia.

<pre> Bios:

ANTÔNIO PIZZONIA

Name: Antônio Reginaldo Pizzonia

Age: 20 years old

Place and date of birth: Manaus/Amazonas - 11/9/1980

Career:

Started in 1990, in Sao Paulo, racing with go-karting (Brazilian Champion)

British Formula Vauxhall Jr - 1997 - 2nd

British Formula Vauxhall Jr / Winter series - 1997 - 1st

British Formula Vauxhall Jr - 1998 - 1st

British Formula Renault / Winter series - 1998 - 1st

British Formula Renault - 1999 - 1st

European Formula Renault - 1999 - 2nd

British Formula 3 - 2000 - 1st

* Best driver in Formula Renault history (passing Alain Prost)

* 15 season wins in 1999

* 91 races: 47 wins, 74 podiums, 48 pole positions and 46 best laps

RICARDO SPERAFICO

Name: Ricardo Luiz Sperafico

Age: 21 years old

Place and date of birth: Toledo/Parana - 23/7/1979

Career:

Sarted influenced by his father, Dilso Sperafico, a former Brazilian Stock Car driver.

British Formula Ford / Winter series - 1996 - 1st

Italian Formula 3000 - 2000 - 1st

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About this article
Series F3000
Drivers Antonio Pizzonia , Ricardo Sperafico , Bruno Junqueira , Alain Prost , Jaime Melo , David Sears