Rumi finalizes Minardi plans

WORRIES over Esteban Tuero's superlicence faded last week when the FIA agreed that the 19-year-old Argentine will be granted the licence necessary if he completes 1,250 miles of testing before the start of the new season in Melbourne on March 8. Tuero is well on his way to completing that figure as the Minardi pre-season testing program continues.

The FIA decision will be welcome news for Minardi boss Gabriele Rumi who would otherwise have had serious budget problems as Tuero is supplying the team with much of its sponsorship this season.

The new-look Minardi operation will reveal its full 1998 package in Bologna on February 23, and the team from Faenza will then spend two days testing at Monza before everything is packed up in preparation for the departure of the freight for Melbourne at the end of that week.

The team is expected to announce at the launch that Frenchman Laurent Redon will be its test and reserve driver. Redon is 24 years old and spent last year racing for the SuperNova Formula 3000 team. He has no problems with money as he is the son of Josette Zannier, the co-founder of the Z clothing company with her brother Roger, who is also the boss of Kickers, a former Benetton sponsor.

Minardi is expected to carry some badging from either Z or Kickers as a result of the deal.

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