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Stoddart plans F1 take-off

AUSTRALIAN airline owner Paul Stoddart says he wants to run his own Formula 1 team and last week took a big step towards that when he bought all the movable assets of the Tyrrell F1 team from British American Racing. These will be moved to Stoddart's own racing factory in Ledbury, near Hereford, in the west of England.

Stoddart is a Tyrrell fanatic and now owns a total of 41 chassis, 16 of which can be raced. For the last two years he has been running Tyrrells in the Boss Historic Formula 1 Championship, his team scoring a total of 11 race wins. He also supplies cars for demonstration runs and even testing, recently lending British American Racing two chassis to run at Pembrey when the new team wanted to try out different color schemes.

For the last couple of years the 43-year-old Australian has been a Tyrrell sponsor, flying the entire team to races in Europe free of charge on one of his European Airlines BAC 1-11 aircraft.

European is now Britain's second largest airline and Stoddart owns a fleet of around 30 aircraft including two Boeing 747s (which are leased to British Airways), 13 Boeing 737s (leased to Sabena), six Airbus A300s which are being converted to carry cargo and 16 BAC 1-11s which do VIP and charter work.

With business booming, Stoddart has decided to expand his sporting involvement and is planning to enter Formula 3000 next year with Kid Jensen Racing, which is run by former Tyrrell men Vincent Franceschini and Simon Barker - who races one of Stoddart's cars in the Boss series in his spare time.

Stoddart says he intends to run the team to F1 standard and has a five-year plan to take over a Grand Prix team. "My ultimate aim is to one day become an F1 team," he said in Japan. "I am aiming to become the next Australian F1 team, the first since Jack Brabham."

Much depends on whether or not the team gets an entry next year but if successful Stoddart says he will be looking for wins. The team already has a couple of 1998 spec cars and will run in European Airline colors at several tests this winter with driver Nicholas Minassian, and hopes to sign up a driver with Formula 3000 wins to his name.

In addition Stoddart says he intends to use some of his racing car collection to run a series of challenge races for up and coming drivers. The cars will be equalized in performance through electronic engine management for the eight races planned in the year 2000.

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