FNIPPON: 2001 Formula Nippon preview and line-up

Seven Gaijins (foreigners) in the 2001 Formula Nippon Championship The launch of the 2001 Formula Nippon Championship took place in Tokyo yesterday (Thursday) with seven foreign drivers announced in the 22 car line-up. Leading the foreigners...

Seven Gaijins (foreigners) in the 2001 Formula Nippon Championship

The launch of the 2001 Formula Nippon Championship took place in Tokyo yesterday (Thursday) with seven foreign drivers announced in the 22 car line-up.

Leading the foreigners charge for this year's championship are Ralph Firman Jr. and Michael Krumm of Germany who will drive for Team Nakajima and 5Zigen respectively. Both Firman and Krumm have been campaigning in Japan for a number of years. They should start the season as two of the top three favourites with Japan's Satoshi Motoyama.

Malaysia's Alex Yoong and Polish racer Jaroslaw Wiersczuk, in their second year of Formula Nippon have signed up with Team LeMans and Dandelion respectively.

The rookies for this year's championship are Narain Karthikeyan from India, Andre Couto from Macau and Richard Lyons from Britain.

The 22 car field will see a keen challenge for the championship against the 2000 champion team Nakajima which nearly swept the board last year. Team Nakajima's other driver is T. Matsuda who won one race in 2000. Leading the charge to wrest the title from Team Nakajima must be favourite S. Motoyama of Team Impul. Motoyama is the 1998 Champion who won last season's closing round 10 convincingly.=20

Of particular interest to South Asian fans are the duo of Yoong and Karthikeyan. Both drivers are keen to strengthen their bid for a Formula 1 seat in the next couple of years with a strong showing.

Alex Yoong: "I will aim for consistent results over all the 10 rounds this year. I am well prepared for this year and I believe I have a good chance to do well with the backing of a very good team in Team LeMans."

Narain Karthikeyan: "I am very happy to be here, especially with Team IMPUL which is the most wonderful team in Formula Nippon. I want to learn every necessary thing from my team principal Mr. Hoshino. I hope to have a satisfactory season for myself."

The first Official Joint Testing takes place on 9th and 10th March at Twin Ring Motegi followed by the second official test in Suzuka on the 15th and 16th of March. Round 1 will kick off at the Suzuka Circuit on 24th and 25th March 2001.

<pre> 2001 Formula Nippon Championship Line-Up

Car No. Driver (Nat) Team

1 Tsugio MATSUDA (J) NAKAJIMA 2 Ralph FIRMAN (GB) NAKAJIMA 3 Yuji TACHIKAWA (J) KONDO 4 (To Be Advised) - KONDO 5 Naoki HATTORI (J) 5ZIGEN 6 Michael KRUMM (D) 5ZIGEN 7 Alex YOONG (MAL) LeMANS 8 Yudai IGARASHI (J) LeMANS 9 Richard LYONS (GB) NOVA 10 Andre COUTO (MAC) NOVA 11 Masami KAGEYAMA (J) CERUMO 12 Seiji ARA (J) CERUMO 14 Ryo MICHIGAMI (J) MoonCraft 15 Hiro MIYAMOTO (J) MoonCraft 19 Satoshi MOTOYAMA (J) IMPUL 20 Narain KARTHIKEYAN (IND) IMPUL 37 Masahiko KAGEYAMA (J) Takagi B-1 38 Tetsuji TAMANAKA (J) Takagi B-1 55 Juichi WAKISAKA (J) ARTA 56 Takeshi TSUCHIYA (J) ARTA 68 Hideki NODA (J) Dandelion 69 Jaroslaw WIERSCZUK (POL) Dandelion

- Alex Yoong Press Office

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Michael Krumm , Narain Karthikeyan , Alex Yoong , Richard Lyons , Satoshi Motoyama , Andre Couto