9 December 2003
GROSSETO – Seemingly unbeatable in Formula One, six-times World Champion Michael Schumacher will Thursday test his speeding skills against a supersonic jet fighter at an Italian military airbase.
Schumacher, at the wheel of his Ferrari F2003-GA, will take on the brand new Eurofighter Typhoon hunter-bomber in two straight-line speed contests down the runway of the Grosseto base, in central Italy.
In theory, there should be no contest. The F2003-GA can reach a maximum speed of up to 400 kilometres per hour while the Eurofighter can speed at almost 2,450 kmh, aviation officials say.
But the duel has been designed to provide maximum equilibrium between the two contestants, meaning the outcome of the contest will be hard to call.
The first race, which will take place over a 500-metre course, is likely to favour Ferrari’s superior acceleration. The second, over a 1,500-metre track, should provide an advantage to the Eurofighter.
“We have organised things so that the race may be as balanced as possible, with one race that should, in theory, favour the aircraft and the other favouring the Ferrari,” said Italian Air Force General Sandro Ferracuti.
“In any case, both machines tend to enhance the individual skills of their pilots,” Ferracuti said.
Italian astronaut and test pilot Maurizio Cheli will pilot the Eurofighter, which was born out of a collaboration between Italy, Germany, Britain and Spain.
A similar contest took place in 1981, when Canada’s Gilles Villeneuve and his Ferrari 126 CK turbo beat a F-104 jet fighter over a one-kilometre race at Istrana airport, in northern Italy.
Fifty years earlier, in 1931, however, Italian motor racing legend Tazio Nuvolari and his Alfa Romeo 2300 had to concede defeat against a biplane.
That same duel will be replicated on Thursday. But this time, it will be Schumacher at the wheel.
Subject: German news