Formula Virtual's newest team - Olsbergs Team Holmqvist - have this evening announced their driver line-up for the upcoming 2016 season, to much surprise around the paddock.
Both the teams race drivers are on loan from other teams - Aron Einarsson from Franklin and Kiara Thunder from Downton - though the latter is a particular shock having previously been announced at Ocelot.
LE CASTELLET, FRANCE
After running pre-season testing with an interim livery, the DS Mathershaw team have revealed their definitive livery for the upcoming season.
Incorporating the colours of the team's home country, the livery signals a departure from the scheme used in previous seasons. Team principal Arthur Lapierre proudly showed the new colours off in front of assembled media: "We're extremely proud to show off the definitive livery for 2016 today. It is a showcase of everything this team represents. It's dynamic, it shows our French and British identities, and it conveys the professionalism of this team. It's a slight departure from previous seasons, but the red that has become one of our defining features is still prominent! We're also proud to showcase our two title sponsors on each car, with Air France and Matmut featuring on Adrien and Olen's cars respectively. We're looking forward to flying the DS flag in 2016 and are hopeful for great success."
With testing due to begin in a couple of days, Westwood are finally revealing their challenger for the 2016 season. After the popularity of their yellow, black and red stripes last year, I'm sure a few people are excited to see what they've produced this time around...
Lufthansa AMR have revealed their 2016 challenger at their Australian factory, before the team ships off to Portugal for pre-season testing.
Ocelot have revealed their 2016 challenger dubbed ''WANDA'' after a sponsorship deal with Marvel, the team is hopeful that the 2016 car will be a major improvement on the 2015 car especially as they enter their second season in the sport. Having already scored 4 points in their first season Ocelot's principle, Rai Miyamoto had the following to say. ''She's beautiful isn't she?'' He joked before continuing on. ''We are very proud of this year's car as a lot of time has been put into it by those at the factory, we believe that in our second year we can improve drastically especially with Karl Beckenbauer on board.''
Miyamoto was also questioned by the media in regards to the driver changes and the loaning of Judson Sikes to North Star.
''Karl has been superb in giving us feedback on the car which is to be expected with the experience he has especially from driving for Liverpool. Granted his stint at Warrior wasn't the best and since then he has been criticized but those who are talented usually are. As for Kiara she's been great as well and is a very special talent to have around the paddock and garage, we'd like to thank Downton for letting her develop at the team here.
''Finally I'm very proud we secured a drive for Judson who narrowly missed out the chance to partner Karl, although we were extremely happy when we came to an agreement with North Star, we believe Judson has the talent to remain in the sport and become a key driver for us in the future.''
Ocelot new boy, Karl Beckenbauer had the following to say on the car and working with the team. ''I'm really happy with how things worked out here, as many people believed it was a risky move to join the team but I found the project very appealing. It's a pleasure that everyone here has been so welcoming especially the fans in Japan who have been crazy about the signing.
Kiara Thunder also had the following to add in terms of the reception she has since arriving. ''The fans have been crazy especially those who have been following the lower series so closely, I hope ill be able to show everyone how good the car is and especially be in front of my brother.''
After their third consecutive Championship winning, keeping them as the only title winning outfit of Formula V so far, the reigning Champions come live to us from the UK where they will reveal the fourth iteration of the team's Formula Virtual challenger - the JF-04.
The 2016 Formula Virtual grid continues to take shape with the second of two new teams, North Star Racing, officially launching their challenger at the Autódromo do Estoril in Portugal.
"It is fantastic to be able to see our car in the flesh and fully decked out for the first time," team principal Nick Forrest told the gathered media, "The guys back at our base in Perth have done an amazing job putting the car together at relatively short notice compared to some of the other teams, and we have to give credit to both BMW and Magna International as well for all the work they've done with the engine and the powertrain. It was a bit down to the wire at times, but we're here now, and we are more than ready to go racing!"
The BMW MPE-16 engine signals the German marque's return to the series, having been absent from the grid since the end of the 2014 season. Keen motorsport followers may notice the stripes on both the engine cover and nosecone harkening back to the BMW M Power racing cars of the past.
"It's certainly a very good looking car," remarked lead driver Judson Sikes, who will be driving on both the first and third days of pre-season testing. "I'm lucky enough to be the first guy to drive it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it compares to the other cars I've driven in my career."
Aleksy Nowosinki, the first Polish driver in Formula Virtual, will take to the wheel on the second and fourth days of testing. "Obviously I hope it's a good car," he commented when asked about his expectations, "I hope we're able to have some good races with the other teams, and I hope I'm able to beat Judson this time around!"
The afternoons of both the second and third days of testing will see the team's test and reserve driver, Jacinto van Slooten, taking the wheel. Giving his appraisal of the car, the Dutchman told reporters "I'm definitely impressed by some of the aerodynamic detail I've seen on the car, particularly around the nose and the sidepods. It's a very well-designed car to me, especially for a new team, hopefully it drives as good as it looks."
In conclusion, Forrest was asked about his expectations for the season ahead. "Racing's never easy," he said, "But I think we have a decent foundation to build on for the season ahead. Our main target would be to finish ahead of FIRST in the standings, being the two new teams this year, but as Adam [Blocker] has said, it'll be quite a challenge either way. It's still a challenge that we're really looking forward to, and if we can score a few points here and there along the way, I'll be very happy indeed!"
The NSR-V01 will see its first on-track action when pre-season testing begins on the 20th of May.
With only days left before the beginning of pre-season testing, Franklin have finally revealed the signing of two more drivers alongside Enrique Ruiz. It was confirmed earlier today that 2015 World Champion would race alongside the Brazilian for the 2016 season, marking the first time in FV history that Franklin have re-signed both drivers.
The launch of the AMR-FV-2 has been delayed by almost a week, the team has confirmed.
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