Scheckter to replace Sarrazin

Stephane Sarrazin has left the McLaren Junior Formula 3000 team, making way for British F3 driver Tomas Scheckter. The South African currently lies second in that series, but was believed to be looking for an F3000 drive after dropping well behind in the points race. However, a shock move has freed a place in one of F3000's top teams, and Scheckter will race in the remaining four events of the season

Scheckter to replace Sarrazin

"It is disappointing that our relationship with Stephane has to finish," said team manager David Brown, who added "we think that Tomas will make a good team-mate to Thomas Enge. He seems to have the ability and strength of character to rise to the challenge."

Late last week, it emerged that Scheckter had tested with the team in what was later described as an 'acclimatisation' session at the Pembrey circuit in Wales.

Sarrazin was regarded as one of the stars of the 1999 season, when he won races for the Prost Jr. team. He performed well in a one-off F1 appearance for Minardi in last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, and was selected to replace F1-bound Nick Heidfeld for the 2000 season in the McLaren Jr squad.

However, neither team nor driver has performed as expected, and both Sarrazin and team-mate Thomas Enge have scored few points this year. The team is reported to have come under increasing pressure to improve its performance.

Scheckter, who drives for Stewart Racing in the British F3 series, has driven only Italian F3000-spec cars in that category, and came second from pole in his first race in the Italian series.

"I am very excited about the prospect of driving for one of the best teams in the world," Scheckter gushed. "It will be a real challenge for me and I am ready to respond positively to all the new experiences F3000 will bring," he added.

Scheckter will continue to race in the British F3 series, but his title challenge must now be regarded as seriously compromised. Series leader Antonio Pizzonia had apparently been offered a drive with McLaren Jr for next season, but is still hopeful of getting an F1 drive.

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