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Magnussen for Stewart

STEWART GRAND PRIX has just announced that it has signed a four-year contract with rising Danish star Jan Magnussen. The agreement was signed on Sunday night.

The 23-year-old from Roskilde is a former triple World Karting Champion and enjoyed a meteoric rise to become the McLaren test driver at the end of 1994. He has raced for McLaren just once, standing in for Mika Hakkinen at the 1995 Pacific GP at Aida. For the last two years he has been a Mercedes factory driver in the German Touring Car and International Touring Car Championships.

In recent weeks he has raced in four Indycar events for the Penske team, standing in for the injured Paul Tracy and Emerson Fittipaldi. Jan had been thought likely to stay with Penske but with Tracy and Al Unser Jr. under contract Penske had no seat available. Jan and his manager David Sears did not want to continue testing and Stewart was the obvious choice for an F1 drive. Jan raced for Paul Stewart Racing in British Formula 3 in 1994, winning the title with 14 wins in 18 races.

"Jan is the best Formula 3 driver I have ever seen - including Ayrton Senna," says Jackie Stewart. "He displayed an outstanding talent in the formative classes of the sport. I sincerely believe that he will be a good investment for us over the long term." Magnussen will begin testing as soon as the prototype Stewart-Ford is finished in December.

"I am absolutely thrilled to have a seat in Formula 1 for next season," said Jan. "My dream came true! It is a real pleasure to be going back to the Stewart family whose experience and professionalism I trust and respect. I am highly honored that Stewart-Ford has offered me this tremendous opportunity. It is the challenge of a life time and I will do my utmost to fulfill it."

Magnussen's Stewart team mate is yet to be decided but it is likely to be an experienced driver. Rubens Barrichello, MartinĘBrundle and Gianni Morbidelli are the men most likely to get the job.

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