Sat, 04 Aug 2001

Mikola joins F3 Prost as Minardi signs Yoong

JAKARTA (JP): After three months of rest, Ananda Mikola will resume his racing career at the Central European Zone Championship series beginning later this month.

The 20-year-old driver will join the Formula Three Prost Grand Prix Junior team in the four races remaining in the Central European competition: on Aug. 26 in Croatia; Sept. 2 in Slovenia; Sept. 16 in Hungary's Hungaroring circuit; and Sept. 30 in Austria's A1 Ring circuit.

Ananda's contract with Formula 3000 team Astro Mega came to a premature end in May due to a lack of financial support after only three races this season.

"Racing in the Formula Three is indeed a step down after my previous races in the Formula 3000. But I am sure the new competition will be no less demanding," Ananda said on Friday.

He said he hoped to perform well, considering the number of podium finishes in the Formula 3000 races.

Ananda stressed that he had to get back behind the steering wheel with or without sponsorship.

"I have not received any sponsorship from either the government or business sector yet. But I will go ahead with my plans even if I have to spend my own money," he said.

"I intend to show that I'm able to race without having to rely on the power of money."

For the Central European outings, Ananda said he needs US$100,000 to pay the racing fees.

Ananda criticized the media for blowing out of proportion reports that the Indonesian Automotive Foundation (YOI) channeled more than $1 million into his career.

"Such negative coverage over the funds from YOI has discouraged sponsors from financing my career. The fund was given to the right person because I am a racer," he said.

Like his son Ananda, Tinton Suprapto downplayed reports that former Formula 3000 driver Alex Yoong of Malaysia had joined the Formula One team of Minardi and will start racing in the Belgium Grand Prix at the Spa circuit on Sept. 2.

"Yoong receives strong financial support from his country and the business sector. He did achieve a good result in his previous Nippon Formula 3000 in Japan," said Tinton.

"You can join any Formula One team if you have enough money."

Yoong admitted that he had secured a sponsor but emphasized that skills were foremost.

"Magnum Corporation Malaysia is my main sponsor for the Formula One," he told AFP. "No amount of money will get a racer into the Formula One if he does not have the capability in the first place.

"That is what all Formula One teams first look at and then after that what sort of commercial support will follow this driver into the Formula One."

Yoong is set to become the first Southeast Asian to race in the Formula One and has a contract to drive with Minardi for the rest of 2001 and 2002.

"If everything goes smoothly in my third test at Mugello on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, the super license will be issued. Belgium is very feasible for my first F1 race and in any case I think Monza in Italy will be at the latest," he said. (nvn)