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BAR commit to two more young hopefuls 19 Sep 2005

(L to R): Alan van der Merwe (RSA) BAR Development Driver and Gil de Ferran (BRA) BAR Sporting Director announce the Bonneville 400 project.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 2 September 2005

BAR have signed long-term agreements with two further members of their Young Driver Programme. South African Alan van der Merwe and Brazilian Danilo Dirani now join fellow members Adam Carroll and James Rossiter in formalising their relationship with BAR.

All four drivers have been part of the programme since it was established in the autumn of 2004. The initiative, led by sporting director Gil de Ferran and senior race engineer Jock Clear, is designed to help BAR develop emerging motorsport talent from which the team could potentially benefit in the longer-term.

"Our team had identified Alan and Danilo as two very promising young drivers with impressive results,” said de Ferran. “After observing them closely throughout this past season, we decided that our faith in their potential was justified."

Van der Merwe, 25, is a former British F3 Champion, voted Rookie of the Year in 2002 before winning the title in 2003. Prior to that, in 2001, he won the Formula Ford Festival. He is currently supporting BAR’s 'Bonneville 400' record attempt, which takes place at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States on October 5. He is also finalising his plans for a race seat in one of the feeder formulae for next season.

"Being part of the Young Driver Programme with BAR Honda has been a fantastic opportunity which couldn't have come at a better time for me,” said van der Merwe. “It's very difficult for a driver to get the chance to integrate into a top team like BAR Honda and the team's Young Driver Programme has already given me exciting projects like the Bonneville 400. I look forward to a successful future with the team."

Danilo, 22, won the South American F3 Championship in 2003 before coming to England at the start of 2004 to compete in the British Formula 3 Championship. He is now in his second season, having won two races this year, and is currently sixth in the drivers' championship with two races remaining.

"I am really pleased to be part of the BAR Honda Young Driver Programme,” he said. “Working with the team over the last year has given me invaluable support, particularly with my fitness and preparation for races and I really appreciate the chance of working with a professional F1 team at this early stage of my career."

As part of the programme, both van der Merwe and Danilo, along with Carroll and Rossiter, will receive technical, fitness and performance coaching from BAR as they continue developing their racecraft through the junior ranks.