Orlando, Fla. (September 15, 2000) --- Olive Garden Team Rafanelli today announced that 1999 Le Mans 24-Hour race winner Pierluigi Martini who drove for the team at the Sebring round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) earlier this season, will...
Orlando, Fla. (September 15, 2000) --- Olive Garden Team Rafanelli today announced that 1999 Le Mans 24-Hour race winner Pierluigi Martini who drove for the team at the Sebring round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) earlier this season, will not drive at the Petit Le Mans race September 30. Team boss Gabriele Rafanelli named 26-year old Norman Simon to replace Martini at the upcoming event.
Simon, who resides in Wiesbaden, Germany most recently impressed Rafanelli with his drive in a Riley & Scott Mk III racing sportscar at the July 9 Nurburgring round of the European Le Mans Series. In that race, before retiring with mechanical problems, the young driver advanced to 3rd place, mastering the treacherously wet German circuit ahead of many of the most experienced factory drivers.
Simon began racing in karts, winning his national Junior Championship in 1991. In 1999 he competed in the FIA F3000 Championship driving for Coloni Motorsport and for WRT. He has driven in both ALMS and ELMS events this year, including the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Grand Prix of Charlotte, the 500 USA Challenge at Silverstone and the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers.
In making the announcement Rafanelli stated, "Pierluigi Martini has always expressed interest in a factory motorsport program with its greater opportunity for testing and development. Given his background and position in motorsport, I have total respect for his decision in this matter. At the same time, we have an excellent pilot in Norman Simon. I have seen him perform in F3000 and particularly at the Nurburgring ELMS race earlier this year and I am sure he will be a great complement to his Olive Garden teammates Mimmo Schiattarella and Didier de Radiguès."