Toy manufacturer Hornby has been revealed as an unexpected sponsor of next week's shoot-out at Brands Hatch to determine the identity of Britain's A1 Grand Prix driver.

Former world champion, and A1GP franchise holder, John Surtees announced the deal with the company, perhaps best known by racing enthusiasts as a leading manufacturer of slot-car racing products through its Scalextric brand.

"When the drivers are not testing, there will an opportunity to compete on the special circuit constructed by Scalextric, who have joined us for these two test days in the
support of young British drivers," Surtees said.

Scalextric has been involved in previous motorsport activities, ranging from press advertisements to marketing exercises and sponsorship of teams and individuals, and chief executive Frank Martin explained that the company's links with Surtees had helped bring it on board for the two-day Brands Hatch event.

"We have a keen interest in motorsport in general, as we have licences to produce all the major F1 teams' cars as well as the worldwide exclusive rights for the MotoGP bikes," Martin said, "It is extremely important to our business as Scalextric accounts for half of Hornby's sales figure of forty million pounds. We are delighted to have this opportunity to be more involved in a series which we are very keen to see succeed. John Surtees has helped us tremendously and I would like nothing more than to see us produce models of the cars that will be running in the A1 Grand Prix series."

Surtees also took the opportunity to clarify the names of the four drivers taking part in the shoot-out, following the late withdrawal of GP2 star Adam Carroll. Ralph Firman Jr, Robbie Kerr, Alex Lloyd and James Rossiter will now battle for the right to race the red, white and blue A1 GP car from the opening round at Brands Hatch in September.

The test will be conducted in one of Arden International's F3000 chassis, as team boss Christian Horner evaluates which pilot to run. Firman and Kerr are scheduled to drive on Monday [23 May], with Lloyd and Rossiter getting their chance on Tuesday. Surtees and Horner will then have the difficult task of picking a winner, although their decision will not be announced immediately.

"The drivers we have chosen have all shown their abilities from karting through to F3 and F3000," Surtees said, "This event presents a wonderful opportunity for them to join a team dedicated to winning Sheikh Maktoum's 'World Cup of Motorsport', and representing Great Britain.

"Unlike other major motorsport series that these drivers would be qualified to drive in, A1 Team GBR is not asking its drivers to bring funding to the team. We are just asking for them to bring their ability and give wholehearted support both on and off the track. In return, they will be given a contract with a retainer, full expenses and a generous share of prize money."

 

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