DRIVERS: SHINJI NAKANO

Name: Shinji Nakano
Nationality: Japan
Date of birth: April 1, 1971 - Osaka, Japan

Nakano's racing CV doesn't look too bad, with a very strong karting grounding in the Eighties which included being the youngest-ever winner of the Hong Kong Kart Grand Prix in 1987.

After graduating to Japanese F3 in 1989 he enjoyed a season of European Formula Opel-Lotus in 1990 which yielded a win and two pole positions, and, more importantly, provided invaluable experience of European GP circuits which would stand him in good stead when he became Olivier Panis' teammate at Prost for 1997.

Naturally, the critics viewed him simply as the stooge of engine supplier Mugen-Honda, but the speed with which he matched Panis' pre-season testing pace augured well for his future. That season he scored points for sixth places at Montreal and the Hungaroring, before giving the lie to his critics by switching his bag of gold to a Minardi-Ford drive in 1998. This was scarcely any more fulfilling, however, and after missing out on a racing seat in 1999 he tested spasmodically for Jordan before switching to Champcars in 2000.

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