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John Walton goes to Prost

FORMER Jordan and Arrows team manager John Walton is to work for Prost Grand Prix this year. The 42-year-old Irishman has been out of work since the end of 1998 when he was dumped by team boss Tom Walkinshaw. The two parties spent most of 1999 involved in legal action but this has now apparently been settled.

Walton has been working in motor racing since he was 13 when he helped Eddie Jordan out in Formula Ford 1600 in Ireland. When Jordan moved to Britain in 1979 Walton accompanied him and stayed with EJ until the mid 1980s when he was offered a job by the Toleman Formula 1 team. Walton worked with Ayrton Senna in 1984 and became chief mechanic when it became Benetton Formula. In 1990, however, he went back to Jordan to become one of the first members of the Jordan F1 team, initially as chief mechanic and then in 1993 as team manager. He was hired away from Jordan in mid-1996 by Walkinshaw to become team manager of the reviving Arrows team. After the promising 1997 season the team fell on hard times and Walton was dumped in a management reshuffle last winter.

The hiring of Walton is a sign of the further internationalization of the French team under Alain Prost. In recent years Prost has hired British engineers but has avoided introducing English managers in an effort to keep the team of French mechanics together. The implication is that Prost is hoping to use Walton to lure British mechanics to the team. One man who is likely to join the team is former Arrows chief mechanic Les Jones, who left Arrows at the same time as Walton and sat out the 1999 season after plans to join Prost failed to materialize when Prost decided not to internationalize the mechanics.

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