Montermini signs for Pacific

Italian Andrea Montermini has signed a season-long deal to race with Pacific Team Lotus. The 31-year-old from Modena was able to secure the drive thanks to financial support from a consortium of Italian sponsors led by the ITS ceramic company.

Montermini had been expected to join the new Forti F1 team, but the unimpressive testing performance of the Forti-Ford appears to have convinced him to leave Italy; and the opening at Pacific came when Pedro Lamy failed to agree terms with the team.

Montermini has long been on the fringes of F1. He has been a test driver for Scuderia Italia, Ferrari, Minardi AND Benetton; but his only involvement in a Grand Prix up to now was when he crashed heavily in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona last year, destroying a brand new Simtek and putting himself into hospital with cracked ankle bones.

While waiting for his Grand Prix chance, Montermini tried his hand competing in a number of Indycar races in 1993-94. He impressed the Indycar fraternity when he finished fourth at Detroit in only his second Indycar race.

The Pacific-Ford PR02 chassis had its first test on Friday last week - with Gachot and Montermini driving at Snetterton - before the team packed up two cars and shipped them out to Brazil.

While Gachot and Montermini will race for Pacific this year, the team is expected to test last year's driver Paul Belmondo and F3000 driver Oliver Gavin.

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