GP Masters Series Launched

Former Formula One World Champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Alain Prost and Alan Jones head a field of over 45-year-old drivers in the inaugural Grand Prix of a new Masters series launched on Thursday

Up to 16 identical cars capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour (321.9 kph) are expected to take part at the former Grand Prix venue of Kyalami on November 13.

In addition to the three World Champions, the field also includes former Formula One drivers Italian Ricardo Patrese, 51, and Andrea de Ceasaris, 46, Swede Stefan Johansson, 48, Dutchman Jan Lammers, 49, and France's Rene Arnoux, 57.

A spokesman for the organisers said they were in discussion with 1992 Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell about his involvement in the series.

Brazilian Fittipaldi, Formula One World Champion in 1972 and 1974, said he thought there would be plenty of excitement.

"Reuniting champions and great drivers from the past in a racing environment where we'll have very powerful cars with minimal technological driver-aids will make for great entertainment and fun for both the drivers and spectators alike," said the 58-year-old, who was also CART champion in 1989 and twice won the Indy 500.

Jones, also 58, won the Formula One world title for Williams in 1980 and although he retired from Grand Prix racing nearly two decades ago said his competitive instinct was still intact.

"Some of us haven't raced for nearly 25 years but rest assured we will be ready and hungry on 13th November," he said. "Once you get behind the wheel of a racing car you want nothing but victory.

"We all have egos and we all think we are better than each other and when those red lights go out in Kyalami in around 10 weeks from now, the desire and commitment will be nothing short of absolute."

Frenchman Prost, who won the F1 world title in 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993, is 50.

Organisers said they were still negotiating with venues for the 2006 championship, which might include a street race in North America.

"Speed, excitement, dramatic confrontation and gladiatorial combat amongst some of the greatest and fearless names in motor racing is what fans want," said Scott Poulter, the chief executive of Grand Prix Masters.

"Combined with extremely powerful machines with minimal technological driver-aids and what you have is a purist's dream and one which we are all very excited about."

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