SEPTEMBER 16, 2002
Nelson gets in the papers again...
Formula 3 teams in Brazil are at daggers drawn after the recent race at Fortaleza in the north of the country. Before the event the championship-leading Piquet Sports team, which is owned by former World Champion Nelson Piquet and runs his son Nelson Piquet Jr. (known as "Nelsinho"), was accused of having illegally tested a car at the Fortaleza track, despite the fact that this was against the rules.
Piquet Sports says that it did not break any rules because the testing it did at Fortaleza was done with a prototype sports car. The rival teams say that this was a Formula 3 car with a token body shell to circumvent the rules and that the intention was to gain an advantage for the F3 event. Before the race 13 of the 18 racers got out of their cars on the grid and delivered a letter to the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA) in which they criticized Piquet and his team and called for action against them. The letter was presented to Carlos Montagner, the racing manager of the CBA.
After the protest the race went ahead and was won by Piquet Jr. But after the event things turned nasty when one of the team's sponsors, a businessman called Arialdo Pinho, apparently took it on himself to make abusive remarks about some of those who had signed the document. Thiago Medeiros, one of these drivers, decided to air his views on the subject to Pinho and the exchange became very heated. It is alleged that Pinho took a gun from one of the circuit security guards and threatened Medeiros, pointing the weapon at his head. Medeiros filed a complaint to this effect with the local police.
The incident led to the races scheduled to take place on September 7-8 in Brasilia being cancelled by the CBA and an inquiry has been opened by the South American Automobile Confederation (Codasur).
Medeiros says that he intends to press charges against Pinho.
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