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Verstappen takes victory for Minardi 01 Sep 2003

Jos Verstappen (NED) Minardi.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Canadian Grand Prix, Preparations, Montreal, Canada, 12 June 2003

Jos Verstappen stood on the top step of the podium at the Rockingham Motor Speedway on Sunday after winning a Formula One race for Minardi.

Verstappen stormed to victory in a 10-lap demonstration race featuring eight of Minardi's F1x2 two-seater cars, with pop star Jay Kay in his machine's passenger seat.

The Dutchman's win came despite a gear-selection problem on the grid, which forced him to fight his way through the field before taking the chequered flag.

"I must say, that was a great experience," said a delighted Verstappen. "I still can't believe how close the two-seater is to the European Minardi Formula One car. I drove one of the F1 cars in pit-stop demonstrations with (Minardi boss) Paul Stoddart during the weekend and found the two-seater only a few seconds slower.

"It was great to take the chequered flag today and to hear the Dutch national anthem played on the podium. I only wish it had been a real Grand Prix."

Verstappen's Minardi team mate Nicolas Kiesa, with Curtis McLean of team and event sponsors Trust International as passenger, also looked to have a top-three finish in his sights, but a lengthy pit stop dropped him down to fifth at the finish.

The remaining podium spots were taken by Minardi test driver, Gianmaria Bruni, partnered with lead singer of rock band The Darkness, Justin Hawkins, and Patrick Friesacher, passengered by footballer, Teddy Sheringham.

For Minardi boss Stoddart it was an eventful weekend. The Australian emerged unscathed after crashing one of the team's PSO1 cars during a demonstration run on Saturday and then found himself with a distinct lack of stopping power during Sunday's two-seater event.

"My own race was somewhat slowed when, on the formation lap, I discovered, to my surprise, that my car had no brakes!" explained Stoddart. "It left me with no choice but to use the gears to slow down, which cost me a lot of time each lap. We took the chequered flag, though, which is the main thing."

During the course of the three-day event, dubbed 'Thunder at the Rock', over 100 lucky passengers got to experience the thrill of Formula One power, courtesy of the Minardi team and their fleet of two-seaters.