Minardi helps Algerian drivers

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Minardi launched an ambitious plan on Friday aimed at becoming the first Formula One team to introduce an Arab driver into the world championship.The F1 minnows said thay had reached an agreement with Algerian driver Nassim Sidi Said whereby he will begin a search for top Arab drivers with a view to a possible debut in Formula One.

Under the agreement, 30-year-old Sidi Said, who drives in Formula Three races throughout Europe, will devise a training programme to select the most promising Arab drivers.

The team said that, as a result of this new venture, Sidi Said may, in the future, be offered the opportunity to test a Minardi F1 car.

"To be involved with Minardi is an excellent opportunity, as the team represents access to F1, which remains the top form of motor racing," Sidi Said told www.minardi.it, the team's official website.

"Ive been working on this project for a few years now, the aim being to encourage activities related to motor racing in the Arab countries, while taking into particular consideration emerging young talent who could make their driving debut in F1 one day.

"Personally, I would love to be among the first of these potential F1 newcomers. I have the utmost confidence in the Minardi team, because it is guided by extremely professional people, and I am looking forward to our future co-operation."

Team principal Paul Stoddart said he hopes the agreement would lead to a greater awareness of motor racing in the Arab world.

"The team is pleased to have entered into this significant alliance with Nassim Sidi Said," said the Australian.

"We are very conscious that the launch of the inaugural Grand Prix of Bahrain in 2004 will generate a notably increased awareness of, and interest in, Formula One in the Arab world, thereby significantly enhancing the sports position as a global promotional vehicle.

"With this announcement, it is clear Minardi aims to be at the forefront of such activities in the Middle East. In the same way that we have assisted the careers of other young drivers, we also look forward to providing Nassim with the chance to become the first Arab driver to gain first-hand experience of Formula One."