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Nakano and Sarrazin off the market

TWO Formula 1 hopefuls - Shinji Nakano and Stephane Sarrazin - have accepted that they are not going to be racing in Grands Prix this year and have signed to race elsewhere. Nakano, who raced for Prost in 1997 and Minardi in 1998, has announced that he is joining Walker Racing in CART. This underlines Nakano's strong relationship with Honda which saw him testing for Jordan Grand Prix on several occasions in 1999. Walker is planning to concentrate on one car in CART having lost both its number one driver Gil de Ferran and its major sponsor Valvoline. Walker is also expected to run a car in the Indy Racing League, becoming the first CART team to split its efforts. The IRL entry is expected to be driven by rising star Sarah Fisher, a 19-year-old racer from Ohio who has enjoyed some success in Midgets in recent years. A number of other CART teams are expected to enter cars for the Indianapolis 500 but there is expected to be a serious shortage of chassis and engines and so not all are going to be able to compete.

Sarrazin suffered a serious setback last autumn when Prost Grand Prix - for which he is the official test driver - decided to hire Formula 3000 Champion Nick Heidfeld as the replacement for Olivier Panis. Sarrazin has agreed to remain as the Prost test driver but has now concluded a deal to take over Heidfeld's position as the lead driver for the West Competition Team. This should put him in a very strong position to challenge for the Formula 3000 title.

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