Jordan to get Camel backing?

WORD on the street in Formula 1 sponsorship circles is that Jordan will reveal backing this week from Camel cigarettes. Jordan has denied a deal, saying it is traditionally a Marlboro team. This is not strictly true. Although Jordan did start out in F1 in 1991 with Marlboro drivers, there followed a two-year relationship with Barclay. The last two seasons the team has received only a small amount of regional Marlboro support, notably Rubens Barrichello's support from Philip Morris Latin America's Marlboro and Kibon (an ice cream company).

Jordan's link with Camel are much stronger. The team enjoyed considerable success in the late 1980s in Formula 3 and F3000 racing in Camel colors. Eddie Jordan Racing entered F3000 in 1988 with Johnny Herbert and Martin Donnelly driving Camel cars, and Jean Alesi won the title in 1989 in a similar livery. The team's final year in F3000 - with Eddie Irvine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen - was also Camel-backed.

It should be also be remembered that Jordan's engine supplier Peugeot - and its sister company Citroen - has enjoyed strong links with Camel in the past, notably on the Paris-Dakar Rally Raid.

Camel has been out of F1 since 1993 - when cutbacks were necessary because of a $30 billion buyout of RJR Nabisco by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. In the last couple of years RJR has concentrated on reducing its debt and selling off unwanted subsidiaries. It is now much stronger - and is expanding its international cigarette sales in particular. In recent months there have been strong hints that Camel wants to be back in F1, but with all the top teams tied to rival cigarette manufacturers - Benetton with Mild Seven, Williams with Rothmans, and McLaren and Ferrari with Marlboro - Camel's only real choice would be a midfield team. Jordan is the obvious choice.

Whether it has Camel backing or not, the new Jordan-Peugeot will be unveiled at Estoril, Portugal on Thursday.

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