Schumacher Performs at Zandvoort

The Marlboro World Championship team of Michael Schumacher, Freddy Loix, Carlos Checa and Randy Mamola, continued their extravaganza of demonstrations in front of around 60,000 at the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort on Sunday. They spun wheels, smoked (and punctured) tyres, gyrated their machines and generally did all the things they're never allowed to do in the sports in which they compete. The whoops, sirens, cheers and applause was deafening from an appreciate crowd.

Schumacher Performs at Zandvoort

The Marlboro World Championship team of Michael Schumacher, Freddy Loix, Carlos Checa and Randy Mamola, continued their extravaganza of demonstrations in front of around 60,000 at the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort on Sunday. They spun wheels, smoked (and punctured) tyres, gyrated their machines and generally did all the things they're never allowed to do in the sports in which they compete. The whoops, sirens, cheers and applause was deafening from an appreciate crowd.

"There is nothing like an atmosphere like this at Zandvoort, with all the people on the hill," said Randy Mamola. "I'd love to come back again. It's been great."

Michael Schumacher was equally complimentary. "I'm very proud to be here today," said the Ferrari driver. "It's a great surprise that there are so many spectators for such an event. The emotion gives me a lot of support for my next race."

Carlos Checa said: "The mechanics don't like us doing wheelies, especially burning the tyres, so this is probably the most fun that I've had. But the people here were so enthusiastic and the atmosphere was so good that this was a great opportunity to do this." Freddy Loix also found it 'a lot of fun'. "The atmosphere has been fantastic." he said.

Freddy Loix and Randy Mamola had already spent quite a lot of time on circuit anyway. On Saturday evening, both had given rides to several local prize-winners and there were more rides on Sunday for journalists and TV presenters. Loix out-performed teammate Tommi Makinen in the doughnut stakes with a record five on the pit straight, leaving the automotive equivalent marks of crop circles. Mamola delighted his passengers with wheelies around the track, finishing with a braking effect that left him balancing on the front wheel. His pillion passengers clapped him on the shoulder with delight (or was it relief?).

In the afternoon it was time for all four to take to the track. After Michael Schumacher had posed for pictures on the Yamaha 500, Carlos took his bike out on the circuit in front of the huge crowd, now enjoying bright sunshine. Initially, he acknowledged the crowd as he was joined by Randy Mamola on the two-seater Yamaha. Then came the wheelies as the pair circulated handlebar to handlebar. But Randy had passengers to pick up and soon gave one of the Ferrari mechanics the ride of his life, the pair chased by Checa. Schumacher watched from the pit wall as Checa smoked his tyres down at the first corner and the pair spent most time on either the front wheel or the smoking back tyre, but rarely with both down on the tarmac. Checa finally had to quit with a completely punctured rear tyre.

As the motorcycle men threw their gloves to the crowd, in true champion style, Freddy Loix came out in the Mitsubishi rally car sliding it around the circuit before indulging in several series of doughnuts, while acknowledging the crowd at the same time! He even did doughnuts in the middle of corners treating almost every spectator around the circuit - no matter where they were - to the smoking Marlboro Mitsubishi rally car. He was clearly trying to beat Tommi Makinen's doughnut record of 12 in one lap. The only thing that stopped him doing more was that the tyre smoke obscured visibility. The crowd loved it when he did a hand brake turn back into the narrow confines of the pit lane. But, by then, a punctured tyre put paid to his efforts too!

The growl of a Ferrari V10 brought cheers from the crowd all around the circuit. Michael had already looked at the track from the wheel of a Mitsubishi AWD vehicle and he looked to be quick immediately, the Ferrari spitting flame around the track, even though he was waving to the crowd. After a practice pit stop, he smoked the tyres out of the pits and then again at the pit lane exit, fighting to control the power of the twitching car as he regained the track. Even the Ferrari mechanics were impressed. After several more smoking and sparking laps, he did a series of spin turns and a doughnut. The crowd whooped and cheered.

Finally, Michael was joined for two parade laps by Carlos Checa and Freddy Loix, a trio of winning machines piloted by great competitors. They did two laps side by side before stopping on the pit straight to the applause of the crowd. And, as a finale, Michael tossed several signed caps into the crowd - the end of another weekend at Zandvoort.

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