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Williams sign Gene as test driver

BMW-WILLIAMS announced on Monday that Marc Gene will be the team's test driver for the 2001 Formula One World Championship.

Spaniard Gene, who made his debut in Formula One with Minardi in 1999 and drove for the Italian team this year, will start his testing duties with the team at the Jerez circuit, Spain on December 5.

BMW-Williams spokesman Nav Sidhu said: "Williams are delighted to have taken Mark on board. Together with BMW we have an intensive testing programme to get through within the next couple of months.

"No-doubt Mark's experience will prove invaluable to us, not only next season but within the future."

Gene has signed a one-year deal with an option for extension when it expires.

Gene will test alongside drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya and will be BMW-Williams' reserve driver next season.

The 26-year-old started his career in the Spanish Kart Championship and then progressed through the Spanish Formula Ford, the British Formula Three and the F3000 championships to Formula One.

He has competed in 33 races in Formula One with a best result of sixth at the 1999 European Grand Prix.

Gene's departure from Minardi plunges the Italian team into further turmoil as the Faenza-based outfit now need a new driver to partner Gaston Mazzacane as well as a new engine and new sponsor ahead of the 2001 season.

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