Telefonica's big new sponsorship deal

TELEFONICA used to be the primary sponsor of the Minardi team, but in recent years the Spanish telecommunications giant has been staying out of Formula 1 although it is still heavily involved in racing in Spain. The company now plans to return to the international scene with a three-year title sponsorship of the Dakar Rally.

Spanish interest in the event has been growing in recent years with a large number of motorcycle racers now coming from Spain, and the development of the Seat Cordoba as a rally-raid competitor by the Repsol YPF - Telefonica Movistar team for former motorcyclist Fernando Gil and his co-driver Rafael Tornabell.

Spanish interest in F1 remains high but both Marc Gene and Fernando Alonso are now test drivers and Pedro de la Rosa is struggling with the uncompetitive Jaguar.

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