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BAT Reynard has an engine deal

THE British American Tobacco Reynard Formula 1 team has secured an engine deal for testing in 1998 and racing in 1999 and beyond. Sources refuse to reveal the name of the engine but we believe that it will be a badged version of one of the top existing F1 engines at the moment.

The most logical move would be for Renault to agree to sell its engine technology to another engine-builder in addition to Mecachrome, which will be supplying Williams and Benetton with ex-Renault V10 engines next year. Williams has an exclusive to stop more than two teams having the engines in 1998 but this would not necessarily get in the way of a technology deal between Renault and BAT Reynard.

The BAT-Reynard deal is believed to have been signed in London in the days before the Grand Prix of Europe and the first official announcement of the program is expected to be at a launch in London on Tuesday, December 2.

There are rumors in the paddock that a number of key people with other teams have been contacted about possible work with the new team - which will test cars in 1998 and enter the World Championship in 1999 with Jacques Villeneuve driving. The new World Champion is a shareholder in the operation along with his manager Craig Pollock - who will be the team's front man - Julian Jakobi, who will run the business side of the operation; Adrian Reynard and his designer Malcolm Oastler, who will build the cars. BAT is expected to have a 50% shareholding in the operation.

Williams test driver Jean-Christophe Boullion is expected to be hired to do the testing work for the team in 1998 and the Frenchman will probably be given an option to continue with the team in 1999.

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