Melton racing driver to join Rubens Barrichello at Brazilian race

Craig Dolby
Craig Dolby
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Melton racing driver Craig Dolby is set to start the season by locking horns with former F1 stars including former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.

Dolby will race in the opening round of the Brazilian Stockcar Championship as the guest of his old Superleague Formula team-mate Tuka Rocha after the invite came through on Friday.

The 25-year-old will partner the Brazilian in a special one-off two-driver round in which Dolby will take over from his team-mate halfway through.

Dolby said: “It’s a massive championship over there and becoming quite well known in Europe so it’s a privilege to get the invite.

“The championship is all about tough, old school racing so it’s definitely going to be an interesting weekend.”

The packed 40-car grid is also expected to feature ex-Formula 1 drivers Nelson Piquet Junior and Antonio Pizzonia as well as Barrichello, the former team-mate of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

The race takes place at the grand prix circuit of Interlagos, Sao Paulo, on March 23.

He added: “There’s going to be some absolutely amazing drivers there and I’m going to be in that kind of company which is great for my profile.”

The invitation capped a positive week for the Melton driver who had begun to fear that the lack of a big budget would once again cost him a seat for the forthcoming season.

The Brazilian offer came hot on the heels of a test session for Nissan’s new 2014 GTR car at Donnington last Thursday.

Dolby approached Nissan representatives at the Autosport show and his persistence was rewarded with six laps of testing at his home circuit. He repaid them with good pace.

“They invited me over to see what I thought of the car and gave me six laps,” he said.

“I was last in the car so I knew what I had for reference points. There were a lot of good drivers there plus the Nissan factory driver, but I went a second quicker than him.”

Dolby exploded back onto the scene in November after a long spell on the sidelines when he was asked to drive the final two rounds of the World Endurance Championships in Shanghai and Bahrain.

While hopes of a season-long drive in WEC appear to have hit the buffers over budget restraints, Dolby continued to attract interest this week.

Following the Nissan test he has seats in four more endurance races, including a four-hour affair at renowned Belgian circuit Spa.

He is also keeping his fingers crossed that his Donnington performance could bring more interest from the Japanese manufacturers.

“I lost a lot of weight over the winter and trained very hard so I’d be in the right position to take opportunities if anything came along,” he added.

“They (Nissan) may come back and ask for a budget, but hopefully I can get some kind of drive for them this season.

“It was a completely different car from anything I had driven before and I proved a point to myself.”