Nakano confirmed at Ligier

THERE were no great surprises last week in Tokyo when Shinji Nakano was named as Ligier's second driver for the 1997 season. Nakano is the prot?g? of Mugen boss Hirotoshi Honda and his inclusion in the French team will undoubtedly bring down the engine bills. In addition the team will have Bridgestone tires and Showa shock absorbers.

The 25-year-old from Osaka is not well known in F1 circles but has shown occasional flashes of talent in the past. He spent five years karting in Japan before jumping straight into Japanese Formula 3 in 1989. He was spotted by Satoru Nakajima and sent off to England in 1990 with sponsorship from Nakajima's supporters PIAA, Epson and Bridgestone and joined Christal Racing in British Vauxhall Lotus racing. He qualified on pole for his second race and went on to a win a race that year, but a second season with Paul Stewart Racing in the Opel Lotus Euroseries resulted in no major results. He returned to Japanese F3 but did not figure strongly until 1994 when he finally won a race. He was then hired by Dome to be its factory driver in F3000. He retained that job this year.

Nakano was in action last week for Ligier at Imola.

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