SF

: Portuguese race stars keen to see FC Porto score

FC Porto fans celebrated the unveiling of their Superleague Formula car at Estadio do Dragao tonight with a stunning 4-0 victory over SC Braga. The blue and white 750 horsepower V12-powered machine was revealed at the "Dragon's den" by a group of...

FC Porto fans celebrated the unveiling of their Superleague Formula car at Estadio do Dragao tonight with a stunning 4-0 victory over SC Braga. The blue and white 750 horsepower V12-powered machine was revealed at the "Dragon's den" by a group of young FC Porto junior players. Superleague Formula President and CEO Alex Andreu was also presented with an FC Porto shirt by club President Pinto da Costa. While the fans had their turn tonight, a couple of well know FC Porto supporters had a sneak preview of the car at yesterday's media launch.

Ex-Formula 1 driver and SEAT World Touring Car Championship star, Tiago Monteiro and 2007 World Series by Renault championship winner Alvaro Parente took the opportunity to try the car on for size. They were joined by fellow Portuguese racers including Pedro Matos Chaves, Ni Amorim, Tiago Petiz, Armindo Araujo, Miguel Ramalho and Rui Martins.

A Formula One driver in 2005 and 06, Monteiro is an avid FC Porto supporter and believes the Superleague Formula championship is a great idea -- particularly the plan of having the second race as a reverse grid event.

"I think it's a great concept. To join the fans and strength of football with motorsport is a project that can only have success because there are so many fans in those two sports. Bring them together and it will be very popular," Monteiro said. "I'm a professional driver and all these championships are very interesting and it is a matter of looking closely at it. I have a contract for 2008 with SEAT in the World Touring Car Championship but you never know, maybe it is possible to do something.

"For the reverse grid concept, as a driver it is always frustrating because you have done all the hard work and won the first race and then have to start from the back. It is certainly hard, but I think it is good for the show and at the end of the day you have to make the fans happy -- that's what they want to see, lots of passing."

Parente won the 2005 British Formula 3 Championship and backed up that title winning success by earning himself a Renault Formula 1 test by claiming the 2007 World Series by Renault Championship.

"The concept is very good. To mix football - which is the biggest sport - with car racing is really incredible," Parente said. "Right now I am concentrating very heavily on advancing my career and getting to Formula 1 and I have a test coming up very soon which is my main priority However, the car certainly looks very interesting and who knows, if the dates don't clash, you never know.

"I am used to seeing FC Porto winning on the football pitch and if we can see the same in Superleague Formula, that would be brilliant."

While Monteiro and Parente are already keen FC Porto supporters, Team West-Tec's Gavin Wills and John Miller are now also Dragons fans after being selected as the race team for FC Porto. The British duo attended tonight's clash with SC Braga in the President's box and are now fully aware of the expectations of the fans and the responsibility they have taken on. Team West-Tec have an outstanding championship pedigree, winning the British Formula Ford championship, the Formula Ford Festival, the British Formula Renault Championship, twice a championship winner of the UK "Days of Thunder" Stock Car Series, and this year claiming the Spanish Formula 3 Cup title.

"What we find most attractive about Superleague Formula is the opportunity to bring the racing to an entirely new audience," Wills said. "Football has one of the biggest spectator bases in the world and this is a excellent opportunity to introduce motorsport to new fans and new sponsors - its great for the sport.

"We are very excited for Team West-Tec to be involved in Superleague Formula. We are clearly aware of the huge fan base of FC Porto and that brings an added level of responsibility for us to deliver to those loyal supporters.

"We have been fortunate to have great success and won championships in every class we have been involved with but this is a new challenge and we certainly are not underestimated what is going to be involved."

FC Porto will be part of a 20 strong grid when the championship kicks off at Donington Park in the UK on August 30/31 this year. So far, they will be joined by AC Milan, Olympiacos, PSV Eindhoven, Borussia Dortmund, RSC Anderlecht, Flamengo, FC Basel and Galatasaray SK. An additional club announcement is expected this week with the grid now starting to fill fast. At each of the six championship rounds, teams will compete for prize pool of 1 million euro at each race meeting.

The Elan Motorsport Technologies, Panoz-built Superleague Formula car is now nearing completion and is expected to hit the track in early March. The Menard Competition Technologies V12 engine will run on the dyno for the first time this month.

-credit: superleagueformulamedia.com

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Series SF
Drivers Ni Amorim , Tiago Monteiro , Alvaro Parente , Miguel Ramalho , Armindo Araujo , Pedro Matos