Formula Palmer Audi continues to revolutionise motorsport with an evolved championship that will provide drivers with unprecedented value and the best opportunity in the world to demonstrate their abilities to the talent hungry F1 and F3000 teams.
"We have made a massive impact in just three years with FPA and I am determined to use our forward thinking, customer focused flexibility to ensure that FPA 2001 is recognised as producing the best young talent in the world", explained series boss Jonathan Palmer. "Whilst our three European races were hugely popular with the drivers, the costs were quite high and our research showed drivers would prefer a lower cost with fewer European races."
The 2001 FPA calendar therefore includes 18 races, over nine double header weekends of which eight will be in the UK and one in Europe at the wonderful Spa Francorchamps circuit. An absolute maximum of just 22 cars will be run and the licence requirement has been reduced to a minimum of a National A, in order to accommodate the demand from younger drivers. The provisional calendar is as follows:
<pre> 14 April Donington GP Races 1 & 2
7 May Brands Hatch GP Races 3 & 4
13 May Silverstone GP Races 5 & 6
10 June Spa Francorchamps GP Races 7 & 8
24 June Snetterton Races 9 & 10
21 July Brands Hatch GP Races 11 & 12
29 July Thruxton Races 13 & 14
18 August Brands Hatch Indy Races 15 & 16
2 September Snetterton Races 17 & 18
"I am thrilled to have some wonderful circuits on the calendar, with more than half being on GP circuits," commented Palmer. "In order to provide drivers with optimum value it is imperative to have double headers at each event and the nature of the PowerTour and TOCATour series cannot accommodate this. We have therefore formulated our own calendar with a variety of associated races including European Le Mans Series, FIA GTs as well as leading national categories. The BRSCC will continue to be the organising club for the championship."
The cars will be to the full 300 bhp Euro specification, and are currently undergoing the biggest winter refurbishment programme since the series started. "All cars are being taken right down to component form and all will be better than ever at the start of the season", said Team Manager Giles Butterfield. Once again every car will have a brand new Audi engine prepared by Audi's RTN operation.
The prize structure is being radically revised, with a £100,000 package. The winner of each of the 18 races will receive an incredible prize of £5,000 cash. "After three years the prestige of winning the FPA championship is immense, and that means FPA champions are sought after by teams looking for young talent, as occurred with Damien Faulkner," said Jonathan Palmer. "Whilst there will no longer be a fully funded drive we still want to launch our champions right into the big league, so the championship prize will be an international test in F3000 or Indy Lights."
Media coverage will be much increased. FPA will continue to be broadcast on Sky Sports television whilst every race will now have extensive coverage in Autosport, with a special four page centre feature after each race.
The most sensational news is the price. The 2001 Formula Palmer Audi championship will cost just £85,000 for which drivers will get an 18 race series in fabulous 300 bhp single seaters with the prospect of winning £5,000 per race. "Never before have drivers ever had such an incredible opportunity," enthused Palmer. "It is clear F1 and F3000 teams are now looking much more closely at young talent. The affordability and equality of FPA 2001 means it will be the toughest such series in Europe so our winners will be very hot property."
Audi UK's motorsport manager David Ingram is delighted with the package. "Audi, both in the UK and in Germany, recognise that FPA has become a highly respected part of international motorsport that has proven to produce superb talent. We are excited about the future and proud that only once in over 1000 race starts has one of our 1.8T engines failed, despite producing over 300 bhp and remaining fundamentally standard".