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Minardi to run two-seaters in South Africa 03 Jun 2004

Zsolt Baumgartner (HUN) Minardi takes passengers for a ride through the streets of Budapest in the Minardi 2-seater. Minardi in Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, 15 February 2004.

Minardi will break new ground this weekend when their F1x2 two-seater Formula One racing cars appear for the first time in Africa.

The UK-based squad will be running a pair of chassis from their eight-car, F1x2 fleet at the AA Kyalami International Raceway circuit, near Johannesburg, South Africa, as a precursor to a full-blown F1x2 race, to be held at the famous track on Monday, August 9.

The latter event is fully supported by Nelson Mandela, and should provide a memorable weekend of motorsport and entertainment, the proceeds from which will directly benefit the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Unite Against Hunger charities.

The purpose of this weekend's programme is to provide passenger rides to a select number of VIP and media guests, both to publicise the August event and to introduce the two-seater Minardi Formula One cars to a South African audience that has seen little Formula One-related motorsport since the country last staged a Grand Prix, at Kyalami, in 1993.

Acting as high-speed 'chauffeurs' this weekend will be regular Minardi Formula One driver, Zsolt Baumgartner, the Faenza-based team's official test and reserve driver, Bas Leinders, and up-and-coming South African racer, Alan van der Merwe, who is currently competing in the FIA F3000 International Championship, generally regarded as the final step for young drivers before embarking on a Formula One career.

"Minardi has been privileged to be able to introduce the excitement of its two-seater Formula One cars to enthusiastic audiences in a number of countries around the world over the last four years, including China, Malaysia, Australia, Hungary, Austria, Italy and the UK," commented Minardi Team Principal, Paul Stoddart.

"We are particularly proud, however, to be able to bring them to South Africa for the first time this weekend in order officially to launch the Altech South African F1x2 Grand Prix, which has all the makings of truly remarkable event. I would like to thank our drivers, Zsolt, Bas and Alan, all of whom are willingly giving of their time at a very busy stage of the motor racing season in order to participate in this weekend's programme. I'm sure it is going to be a success and will undoubtedly whet the appetite of South African motor racing fans for the August event."