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Motor Racing

D'Ambrosio given chance to stake claim with Virgin

Virgin will try out the Belgian driver Jérôme d'Ambrosio in Friday practice at four of the last five Formula One races of the season, the British-based team said yesterday.

D'Ambrosio, who has been competing in the GP2 series for the past four seasons, finishing ninth last year, will drive on Fridays at Singapore this week, Japan, South Korea and Brazil. The 24-year-old, a Renault reserve and test driver, will also take part in a young driver test in Abu Dhabi after the season ends.

"The team will be using this opportunity to evaluate Jérôme's potential," Virgin said in a statement. "Jérôme will join existing long-term reserve driver Luiz Razia who continues in the role." D'Ambrosio will replace Brazilian race driver Lucas di Grassi in the first Friday session in Singapore alongside Germany's Timo Glock.

"My ultimate goal has always been to race in Formula One and I am delighted to get a step closer," said the Belgian.

Virgin, one of three new Formula One teams fighting at the back of the grid this season, have a contract with the experienced Glock for another two years and an option on Di Grassi for 2011.

Sauber have also enhanced their line-up by signing Mexican Esteban Gutierrez as their test and reserve driver for 2011. The 19-year-old won this season's inaugural GP3 series and has impressed Sauber after spending the campaign with the Swiss team as an affiliated driver.