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FEBRUARY 22, 2001

New Minardi tested for the first time

EUROPEAN MINARDI drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques tested the team's new car for the first time at Vairano on Wednesday.

The PS01, named after new owner Paul Stoddart, made its first appearance just one week before the first practice session for the new season.

The team has faced a tough challenge to make it to Melbourne on time, and the completion of the first shakedown has relieved everyone, including Stoddart.

"It has all been a bit of a blur, but to see the car running for the first time was quite an emotional moment," said Stoddart.

"It has been a huge mountain to climb to ensure we would be there next Friday in Melbourne for the start of practice, but we have made it."

European Minardi has had to secure engines, hire new staff, sign new drivers, and secure new sponsors in the weeks since Stoddart took the team over at the end of January.

Both Alonso and newly signed Marques spent time in the team's first chassis, but the second is not yet completed.

They are the last team to shake down their new challenger, and the 30 laps put in by the car were enough to check the systems worked correctly and complete a simple aerodynamic balance test.