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FEBRUARY 10, 1997

Pacific lays foundations for F1 return

KEITH WIGGIN's Pacific Racing - which struggled in F1 in 1994 and 1995 but enjoyed enormous success in the junior formulae with drivers such as Bertrand Gachot, JJ Lehto, Eddie Irvine, Christian Fittipaldi and David Coulthard - has made no secret of the fact that it would like to get back into Grand Prix racing in the future.

The possibility of a Pacific return to F1 increased last week when the team signed a deal with Malaysian company Petra, which will enable Pacific to make major investment for the future. The new operation is called Petra Pacific with Wiggins acting as managing-director under chairman Vinod Sekhar, the boss of Petra, who has made billions in wheeler-dealing in biotechnology, petrochemicals and computers.

The chief executive of Sekhar's Petra Group is another F1 fan, John Byfield, who was one of the consortium which bought Leyton House Racing in December 1991 and tried to run the operation as "March F1" until it went into receivership in March 1993.

Petra Pacific will remain in Thetford, Norfolk but the company's marketing department is to open new offices in London.

"I saw in Pacific a company with limitless potential," commented Sekhar. "There is a willingness to succeed and I believe we have a very exciting future. With our combined effort we can take Petra Pacific to the height of motor sport success."

Pacific is currently competing in Formula 3000 and is developing a BRM sportscar for the Le Mans 24 Hours.