OCTOBER 14, 1996
THE departure from Ligier of Pedro Diniz and his Parmalat millions leaves team owner Flavio Briatore with a serious budget problem. The team's Gauloises Blondes budget has been eaten up already to pay for the Mugen Honda engines and there are no French companies showing any obvious interest in helping Briatore keep the team afloat.
The obvious solution is to turn to Japan for help by offering the second drive to a Japanese driver in the hope that Mugen boss Hirotoshi Honda will agree to reduce the $8m engine bill next year. It is no surprise, therefore, that this week Ligier will be running Shinji Nakano in testing at Suzuka before the cars are shipped back to Europe.
Nakano is 25 and has spent the last couple of years as Dome's works driver in Formula 3000 (now Formula Nippon) in Japan. A prot?g? of Hirotoshi Honda he raced in British Formula Vauxhall racing in 1990 and 1991, although without much success.
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