Ex racers star in unique China event 26 Sep 2004
Former Shadow Formula One, Formula Three and sportscar driver Stefan Johansson drew praise from ex team mate David Kennedy yesterday, after the Swede took pole position for the Volkswagen Polo celebrity race on the Shanghai International Circuit.
Im surprised, because he never beat me when we were team-mates before, the Irish RTE television pundit said, but good luck to him, he did a fine job today and he deserved it. But Ill be taking him off tomorrow when the race starts!
The laconic Dubliner will not be the only man with such uncharitable thoughts in mind in what promises to be one of the most dramatic races of the weekend. Behind Johansson, former Formula One racers Christian Danner, Martin Brundle, Jacques Laffite, Marc Surer and Ivan Capelli will be rubbing door handles with Formula Two star Eje Elgh, Paris-Dakar winner Jutta Kleinschmidt, journalist Peter Windsor, of F1 Racing, and circuit designer Hermann Tilke, together with several Chinese celebrities.
The race, which is part of the support calendar together with Formula BMW and Formula Renault events dominated respectively by local hero Marchy Lee and Scott Speed, typifies the spirit and enthusiasm with which the Chinese authorities have embraced their first Grand Prix and the result has been a brilliant event with pageantry and style not seen anywhere else.
Other visiting luminaries included former world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan; Chinas best hope for future Formula One stardom, Ho-Pin Tung who so impressed Williams when he tested for the team at Jerez de la Frontera last October; Formula Renault racer Chen Congfu who drove an F1 McLaren round the Shanghai track earlier this month; and fellow Renault racer Jiang Tengyi. Add the hoped-for attendance of Chinas Olympic gold medallists such as Mens 10m platform diver Tian Liang, and the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix promises to be an event to remember.