Minardi Says Gday To Webber

Mark Webber will drive the second KL Minardi Asiatech car alongside Alex Yoong this season, the team announced Monday. The Queanbeyan, New South Wales, native become the first Australian-born Formula One driver since 1994.

Webber, who drove for Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart’s European Formula Racing team in the FIA International F3000 Championship, was one of a handful of drivers testing with the team this month. Team officials said Stoddart decided on Webber during the testing.

“Entering Formula One is obviously a fantastic stage of my career - it's what the last seven years has been all about,” Webber said. “Now the hard work really begins, though, and to start this new chapter with someone like Paul - with whom I've worked in the past and know to be both very determined and committed to taking KL Minardi Asiatech to a new level - is a fantastic opportunity. I simply can't wait to get under way.”

Webber and Yoong, both 25, will make up the youngest team on the circuit in 2002, but that does nothing but excite Stoddart heading into the March 3 season-opener in Melbourne.

“Last year, arriving in Melbourne for the first time with the European Minardi team was a proud and emotional moment for all of us,” Stoddart said. “This year, with two great young competitors joining KL Minardi Asiatech - Australia's Mark Webber, and Alex Yoong, Malaysia's first-ever Grand Prix driver - we're going to feel doubly proud.

“It's also a very different Minardi team that will arrive in Australia this year. It is better-prepared in all respects and boasts a new title sponsor, 'Go KL,' a new engine partner, Asiatech, and highly encouraging aerodynamic results from two intensive wind tunnel programs. We firmly believe the team is on course to take its first important step up the Formula One grid.”

Yoong, Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso combined to earn no points for Minardi last season with no finish higher than ninth.

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