08 December 2003
ALAIN PROST TO MAKE RACING COMEBACK WITH TOYOTA
Four-times World Formula 1 Champion Alain Prost is to make a comeback to racing after signing a two-year contract with Toyota.
The legendary Frenchman will turn his hand to ice racing in the famous Andros Trophy series at the wheel of a Toyota Corolla backed by Toyota France.
Ice racing is hugely popular in France and a number of top circuit racers are regular competitors.
Prost, 48, has not raced regularly since he won the fourth of his world titles in 1993.
He won 51 Grands Prix in a 14-year F1 career, a record eclipsed only recently by Michael Schumacher.
Prost was the first Frenchman to win the World Championship in 1985 and was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the French equivalent of a knighthood.
Known throughout his career as The Professor, Prost is keen to apply his smooth style of driving to the demanding discipline of ice racing.
He tried his hand at ice racing earlier this year and scored a sensational race victory in a round of the Andros Trophy series after taking some driving tips from Yvan Muller - known as ‘The Ice King’.
Muller, who has raced at Bathurst, won seven successive Andros Trophies leading up to 2001/2002 and is returning to reclaim his title after sitting out last season.
The showdown between Prost in the Toyota Corolla and Muller in a new Kia has the French motor sport world buzzing.
Prost will drive for Team Oreca Toyota, reuniting with team owner Hugues de Chaunac, who guided Prost to the 1979 European Formula 3 Championship that launched him into F1.
Oreca has built an all-new Corolla ice racer that is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine driving all four wheels.
“Ice racing started as a vacation for me,” said Prost, “but as soon as you start to drive and look at lap times you take it more seriously, and you get more pleasure from anything when you begin to master it.
“The Andros Trophy is more relaxed than Formula 1, but it is still a very professional sport.
The Andros Trophy series is to be contested over seven rounds during the northern winter, culminating in a grand final in front of 60,000 spectators at the Stade de France in Paris on February 7, 2004.
It takes three days to turn the famed sports stadium into a specially constructed ice racing track, with 20,000 blocks of ice weighing 700 tons joined together using liquid nitrogen.
Last year’s championship, won by Marcel Tarres, also featured appearances by former F1 racers Jacques Laffite, Jean-Louis Schlesser and Eric Comas, and 1999 world motorcycle champion Alex Criville.
Four times World Formula One champion Alain Prost and the three litre V6 Toyota Corolla he will drive in the Andros Trophy ice racing series.