NOVEMBER 18, 1996
Damon flies - but shunts
DAMON HILL began testing for Arrows in Japan last week - using the old 1995 Ligier-Mugen Honda which the team uses for its Bridgestone testing at Suzuka - and set some impressive times in the car. The World Champion set a best lap of 1m40.14s - which was slower than pole position at the recent Japanese GP but was around 1.5secs faster than the lap record in racing trim.
Hill ended the test early when he spun on cold tires and hit a wall, damaging two corners and the gearbox. Hill had been unable to fit into the Footwork chassis which had been left in Japan because his feet proved to be too big for the monocoque.
The test was designed to give both Hill and Bridgestone some idea of where the Japanese tiremaker is in relation to Goodyear in terms of tire development.
The crash may prove to be a setback for the team because the Ligier - a converted show car - does not have a lot of spares and the new Arrows-Yamaha is not expected to be ready for some months. As Hill cannot fit into this year's car he may have to sit out a few vital weeks - unless the team can either repair the Ligier or work out how to modify the existing machinery to enable Damon to drive.
Bridgestone is expected to announce shortly that it has concluded tire supply deals with Minardi, Tyrrell, Stewart and Ligier. The new Lola team is expected to run on Goodyear tires.
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