Grand Prix Masters Series Launched

Grand Prix Masters, the series hoping to emulate the success of similar veteran contests offered by tennis and other sports, unveiled its prototype chassis at the Durban Motor Show in South Africa on Thursday

Grand Prix Masters Series Launched

Present at the launch were former World Champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Alan Jones, GPM driving force Scott Poulter and Paul Jordan, who has held marketing positions with Benetton, BAR, Jordan, and Minardi, whilst ex-Ferrari star Rene Arnoux is expected in the coastal city on Friday.

The Frenchman is scheduled to drive a series of demonstration laps on a temporary street circuit erected along the Indian Ocean coastline during the weekend.

Conceding the car is based on a Reynard Formula Nippon design, for which race engineering company owns the intellectual property rights after the liquidation of Adrian Reynards' group of companies, Poulter stressed that "the drivers, and not the cars, are the stars".

"Grand Prix Masters is a single chassis formula designed to promote the drivers, and we have scheduled a series of six events in Italy, Spain, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, North America and South Africa during 2006," Poulter told Autosport-Atlas in an exclusive interview during the launch.

"However, we were offered the opportunity of running as anchor event at Kyalami's F1x2 two seater race in November (11-13), and seized the opportunity, as it allows us to run the cars ahead of commencement of the championship."

GPM is looking to attract at least 20 drivers, with qualification based upon various criteria, including at least two years in Formula One, with Alain Prost, Alan Jones and Christian Danner already committed, and Fittipaldi awaiting medical clearance after a major Champ Car accident put paid to his career in 1996.

"I intend enjoying myself, racing during the days and reliving the wonderful cities I visited during my grand prix career," quipped Jones, whilst Fittipaldi was hopeful of receiving medical clearance next week, with a view to testing the car in the UK in June.

A list of 40 eligible drivers, including champions Jody Scheckter, Nigel Mansell and Keke Rosberg, and Grand Prix winners John Watson and Johnny Herbert, was presented at the function, and Jordan was adamant that most had expressed interest. "We have also been encouraged by enquiries from circuits," he said.

Zytek is contracted to supply a minimum of 20 identical cars, powered by the company's 3.4 litre V8 engine producing 525 bhp, on a turn-key basis, and will provide technical support and back-up during events, which are scheduled over three days.

"Friday will see familiarisation practice and a preliminary race, based on a grid drawn in lots; and the second day seeing another race with the grid being the reverse of the first day. The combined results will provide the grid for the main spectacular on Sunday," explained Poulter.

According to Jordan, a tyre contract has yet to be awarded. "We have been talking to Michelin and Goodyear, but no decisions have been made on rubber," he said.

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