FAIRFIELD, N.J. (October 16, 1998) -- After winning the 1998 U.S. F2000 National Championship in dominating fashion, David Besnard, of Sydney, Australia, is set to take on the best from the rest of the world at the Slick 50 Formula Ford World Finals, Brands Hatch, England, October 23-25.

In winning the title, Besnard, 21, earned a full test and weekend program sponsored by the U.S. F2000 with the Van Diemen International Works Team for the World Finals, which matches the top Formula Ford drivers from all over the world. This will be Besnard's second visit to the prestigious event. In 1996, he drove a Van Diemen for John Booth's Manor Motorsport, finishing 10th with the race's fastest lap.

Besnard, who rewrote the U.S. F2000 record book with eight wins and eight poles this season, joins fellow works drivers Daniel Wheldon and Marcus Ambrose for the event, for which testing begins October 20.

"The World Finals is the perfect way to conclude my 1998 season," said Besnard. "With the experience I've gained since my run in 1996, I believe we have a great chance at winning this prestigious event. It's great to get this opportunity from the U.S. F2000, and I promise not to disappoint all the people following the weekend in the States and Australia."

"This weekend is not a handout from our series -- David certainly earned it qwith his fantastic season," said U.S. F2000 co-promoter Dan Andersen. "The Slick 50 Formula Ford World Finals has developed into the premier event for Formula Ford drivers worldwide, and while David may not be from North America, he certainly represents the best any development series in North America has to offer."

Besnard will pilot a Van Diemen RF98 with 1.8-liter Ford Zetec power. While the car has the same designation as that which he drove to the U.S. F2000 Championship, Besnard will have to adapt his driving style due to the lack of front and rear wings on the Formula Ford.

"Over the past two months, I've driven the two-liter car, a 675 hp Riley & Scott Ford and a GT3 BMW M3," said Besnard. "I won the Australian Formula Ford 1600 Championship in 1996 in a car similar to those we run in the World Finals, and given the amount of testing the Van Diemen team is doing in the week prior to the race and the Euro Cup race we're doing the weekend before, it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to get the hang of it again."

Besnard looks to extend Van Diemen's World Finals winning streak to four next weekend. Van Diemen has won the event (formerly known as the Formula Ford Festival) 15 times with such renowned drivers as Chico Serra, Michael Roe, Roberto Moreno, Tommy Byrne, Roland Ratzenberger, Eddie Irvine, Vincenzo Sospiri, Jan Magnussen and Mark Webber. Russell Ingall, the 1993 Champion, and 1996 winner Webber are the only two Australians to win the event throughout its 26-year history.

"David is the best driver to come along in years and I certainly think he can win the race," said Byrne, the 1981 Festival Champion with Van Diemen and current Mid-Ohio School/F2000 driver coach.