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MARCH 1, 2001

James Courtney wins Australian Motor Sportsman of the Year

RISING Australian racing star James Courtney, who will drive this year for the Jaguar Junior Team in the British Formula 3 series has been named Australia's Motor Sportsman of the Year in the annual Motorsport News Awards. Courtney beat Benetton test driver Mark Webber to the prize.

The Motorsport News Awards Dinner attracted 500 guests including all the great names of Australian motor sport, amid great excitement that Australia will soon have its own Formula 1 driver to cheer. Paul Stoddart's takeover of the Minardi team has been so popular in Melbourne that the team has been the star attraction for the media up to now.

The highlight of the dinner was the announcement of a special lifetime award for motorcycle racer Mick Doohan, a rare example of the motor racing fraternity recognising the bike world. Doohan received an emotional standing ovation as Australian motor racing legend Peter Brock handed him the award.

The evening was also marked by the establishment of a foundation to help fund the activities of young Australian racing drivers on the international scene. The award is being funded by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, the country's national sporting authority. As part of the entertainment a ride in a European Minardi twin-seater F1 car with former World Champion Nigel Mansell was auctioned, raising $10,000 for the foundation.

The price (which includes business class travel to and from Europe) has to be seen as the bargain of the century...