As A1 Team Brasil prepares to head to China for the fourth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, team principal Emerson Fittipaldi has announced the signing of a young Brazilian talent who will join the team as a rookie driver. Clemente Faria Jr (right), who tested for the squad at Snetterton in August, will fulfil rookie duties from January 2008. For next week's round in Zhuhai, Sergio Jimenez will complete his final rookie sessions and undertake main driving duties as the team looks to build on the success it achieved at the last race in Sepang, where Sergio stood on the podium after scoring a fine third place.
Clemente Jr dominated the 2007 South American F3 Championship, taking overall victory after six wins, eleven podiums and eight pole positions. He joined the series a few races into the 2006 season, stealing two race wins, two poles and eight further podiums, before launching a serious assault on the series in 2007. The 19-year-old comes from Belo Horizonte and is seen as one of Brazil's brightest young talents. Prior to his entry into Formula Three, Clemente enjoyed a successful nine-year career in karting, winning six championship trophies, including four consecutive Brazilian Kart titles between 2002 and 2005.
Looking ahead to next week's race, Sergio, who notched up the team's first podium since November 2005 last time out in Malaysia, will compete in all sessions for the team. After that round, however, he will lose eligibility to drive in the rookie practice sessions, having completed more than six races. Clemente will join the team from the round in Taupo, New Zealand to fulfil the rookie driver role.
Next week will see A1GP visit the Zhuhai International Circuit for the first time. Originally built in 1996, the 4.3km track was upgraded in 1999 with the help of renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke. The clockwise track features 14 challenging corners, designed to encourage overtaking, and two straights.
Emerson Fittipaldi, Team Principal: "This season A1 Team Brasil is becoming more competitive every race and we are looking to continue that. I am so happy with the way the team is performing and we are aiming for a top three position again in China. We know that the opposition is tough and many teams are improving, but I am confident we can be right in the mix again. I am happy that we will have Clemente Jr with us in Taupo to do the rookie sessions and I look forward to working with him. He is a South American F3 champion and his job will be to adapt himself to the A1GP car and show his potential."
Sergio Jimenez: "The team was very happy with the podium in Malaysia because it had been a long time since the last one and showed just how hard we have all been working. We have been improving race on race, and are looking to continue that in China. For me, Zhuhai will be a different challenge and I'm feeling confident because no-one has driven the track before so it will be a level playing field for all the A1GP drivers."
Clemente Faria Jr: "I am really happy to be joining the team and I am looking forward to working with everyone. I think this is a key step in my career and it will be very good to drive a car with this amount of power and to keep on learning. I did some good work at the test in Snetterton and now I have the opportunity to improve with the car and drive on many tracks. I am so pleased to be able to work with Emerson. I am a big fan of his and I am looking forward to learning a lot from him."