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Minardi F1X2 completes first event in Melbourne
The Minardi F1X2 Team today completed its first event of 2006, with a successful programme at Mangalore Airport, north of Melbourne. The F1X2 crew was more than busy, though, as driver, Zsolt Baumgartner, took a single-car, one-day record of 65 lucky passengers for high-speed rides around the 2.65-km course, laid out within the confines of the airfield, located in central Victoria.
The majority of the passengers in this instance were winners of an OzJet promotional competition, although Melbourne chef, Stephen Hewatt, who generously bid AUS$28,000 in a charity auction conducted by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, which assists orphaned and abused children, was also strapped into the F1X2 car for the ride of a lifetime.
"It was just an unbelievable experience," Stephen commented after climbing from the passenger seat at the end of his run, "almost like you're starting to fly. The forces were incredible at times, particularly through the chicane and under braking. How F1 drivers can do this for 60 or 70 laps at a time, I can't begin to comprehend, but there is no doubt they have to be super-fit to deal with it."
Team boss, Paul Stoddart, said, "It has been another hugely successful event for the two-seater programme, and I particularly want to thank Zsolt, the medical and rescue team from Racesafe, and the F1X2 crew, all of whom worked tirelessly, in 30 degree-plus heat, to ensure the passengers received their rides and had a great day. I would also like to recognise the efforts of the management team at Mangalore Airport. The staff here have been fantastically co-operative, and embraced the idea of the two-seater programme from the outset. There is no doubt this has been a wonderful experience for 65 very happy passengers, and continues the two-seater programme's worthy tradition of bringing Formula One closer to the general public."