Albers To Test For Minardi

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Minardi team Principal Paul Stoddart is erasing any doubts – he is serious about making his team a competitive one in 2002.

Though the Australian businessman has yet to name his number two driver, the team announced Thursday Christijan Albers will join Alex Yoong at the team’s test session in Valencia next week.

Albers, 22, has been earmarked as a budding star in Formula One, but for now will do some durability testing at the wheel of an interim Minardi PS01B chassis while assisting the team's engineers to check some of the components that will be fitted to the new PS02, due to run for the first time in the next four weeks.

“Christijan is someone who is close to our team, and we continue to rate him highly,” Stoddart said. “Now that our pre-season testing program is set to get under way in earnest, we thought it was an ideal opportunity to have another look at him while he helps us get through our scheduled workload, which is considerable. It's also useful that Christijan knows the team, the engineers, and our way of working, as he has tested for us before.”

Albers won the German Formula Three Championship in 1999, followed by a successful season of competition in the FIA International F3000 Championship with European Formula Racing in 2000. An official test driver for European Minardi F1 last year, he also competed as a "rookie" in the 2001 DTM (German Touring Car Championship), continuing to demonstrate his undoubted talent by propelling a year-old Mercedes to three top-10 results in the bruising saloon car racing series, including a fine second-place finish.

“I am obviously very pleased to be asked to test again for Minardi,” Albers said. “I know the team has made significant progress over the last year, and the new car should be a big step forward. I am really looking forward to helping with the test program and am excited at the prospect of experiencing the performance of a Formula One car again.”

Minardi will launch its PS02 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Feb. 23, and the team may not officially announce its drivers until then.

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