Ralph Firman has been revealed as the driver who will be at the wheel of the new A1 Grand Prix car when it begins its official test programme at Jerez next week.

The former Jordan Formula One pilot, now one of the UK's most experienced racing drivers, will share testing duties with A1 series general manager Stephen Watson, who has been involved with the Lola-built concept from its inception.

Former Formula Nippon champion Firman, who contested the opening rounds of the Formula Nissan World Series at the start of the season, and also raced at Le Mans, was at Snetterton on Wednesday to watch Watson complete a shakedown test of the prototype single-seater, and agreed a deal to help with future running. The session was the final day of a testing programme during which the Lola chassis, powered by a Zytek V8 engine, covered 750 kilometres.

The four-day Jerez test begins on Monday [21 August] with Watson driving, while Firman will have a seat fitting on Tuesday before joining the South African on the 25-27
August to complete the all important hot weather test.

"Ralph brings with him experience from his racing in Formula One, Formula Nippon and also at Le Mans, and his feedback will be invaluable to us," Watson commented, "I look forward to working with him"

Firman, who missed out on retaining his Jordan drive when the better-funded Giorgio Pantano was signed to partner Nick Heidfeld, admitted that the chance to be involved with the A1 GP project was too good to turn down.

"It is a great opportunity for me," he confirmed, "Stephen has brought me up to date with the work he has done so far, and now I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the car at Jerez. It has all the right ingredients to be a very successful racing car and I am sure will be fun to drive."



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