Canada to Test Hinchcliffe and Wickens at Silverstone A1 Team Canada will field Toronto-born racers James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens at England's Silverstone Circuit next week, Tuesday 28th -- Wednesday 29th August, as official pre-season...
Canada to Test Hinchcliffe and Wickens at Silverstone
A1 Team Canada will field Toronto-born racers James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens at England's Silverstone Circuit next week, Tuesday 28th -- Wednesday 29th August, as official pre-season testing kicks off ahead of Round 1 of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Circuit Park Zandvoort, The Netherlands on 30th September 2007.
Next week's two-day test will see 20-year-old Hinchcliffe return to driving duty for Canada having scored a total of seven top-ten finishes last season, including a second-place podium in the Czech Republic last October, his rookie year in the nation versus nation, winter-based open-wheel racing series.
While Hinchcliffe is already familiar with the 550bhp A1GP race car used by the 22 competing nations, Robert Wickens will sample the Zytek V8-powered, Lola-built entry for the first time at Silverstone -- the test also marking the 18-year-old's debut running on the famed-Northamptonshire track which houses the A1GP operation during the off-season and traditionally hosts the British Grand Prix.
"I'm obviously thrilled to be invited back and to be involved with A1 Team Canada again," stated Hinchcliffe ahead of the Silverstone test. "It's always great to be able to represent your country doing something you love. We had some successes last season but I still feel like there's a bit of unfinished business and I'd love to have the opportunity to deliver Canada the win we came so close to scoring on a couple of occasions last year."
Wickens is similarly looking forward to his first try out with the Canadian team. "I'm extremely excited to have the chance to drive an A1GP car," he enthused. "I've been following A1 Team Canada's progress since the series began and I always wanted to be a part of it if possible. The car will be the most powerful I've driven in my career. I'll be on a steep learning curve as I'll also be learning the Silverstone layout as well. It'll be great working with James though; we've been friends for years and actually used to be karting team-mates so I'm looking forward to working with him once again."
Both Hinchcliffe and Wickens have flown the maple leaf flag proudly during the 2007 regular season, competing against each other across North America in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. James entered his sophomore season in the category already a race winner having picked up a win at Portland in 2006. Competing for Sierra Sierra Enterprises, Hinchcliffe finished the season fourth overall in the Driver Standings with a track record showcasing three pole positions, five podiums and nine top-ten finishes from 12 starts and the Gilles Villeneuve Award.
Robert Wickens belied his rookie status to finish third overall in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship having raced for Red Bull Team Forsythe. Arriving in the series as the reigning Formula BMW USA Champion, the Canadian teenager quickly backed-up his credentials by taking pole on his debut in Las Vegas and finishing second in the race behind eventual champion, Brazil's Raphael Matos. Wickens went on to score his maiden win, as Hinchcliffe had done a year earlier, in June's trip to the Portland International Raceway.
At season's end Wickens record included one pole, one victory, four podiums and an impressive total of eight top-five finishes, Robert winning the BBS Rising Star Award for his efforts.
The Silverstone test will also mark the first time A1 Team Canada will be operated by Status Grand Prix, the company appointed by Canadian Seat-Holder Wade Cherwayko to manage the team's operational affairs for the season ahead. Status Grand Prix, with Formula One veteran Mark Gallagher serving as its Managing Director, is already well-versed in running an A1GP team having managed A1 Team Ireland's entry since the series began two years ago.
Simon Cayzer has been appointed A1 Team Canada's Team Manager and Engineer, the former Jordan Grand Prix race engineer having recently fulfilled similar duties overseeing Nelson Piquet Jr's successes in the GP2 Series for Piquet Sports. Cayzer will report to John Booth, the Manor Motorsport Team Principal in charge of technical operations on behalf of A1 Team Canada -- Booth's recent accomplishments in open-wheel racing including numerous race wins and titles developing the careers of no lesser talents than Formula One's Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
"I believe A1 Team Canada has a very strong package heading into the new season," commented Status Grand Prix's Mark Gallagher. "Our objectives for next week's test are to make sure Robert (Wickens) gets a feel for A1GP and a measurement of the car while James (Hinchcliffe), who's already a proven quantity and part of the A1 Team Canada family, dials himself back into the swing of things."
He continued, "We had some of the Canadian crew assisting with the Irish team's participation in last week's rookie testing at Snetterton so while Silverstone is technically our first run operating A1 Team Canada, the guys have already cut their teeth in pre-season and we're certainly no strangers to running an A1GP outfit. John (Booth) needs no introduction with his track record of success in motorsport and we're excited we've been able to bring him on-board with Canada. I'm looking forward to seeing everything come together next week!"
Canada finished 11th overall in the 2006-07 A1GP Nations Standings having combined the talents of James Hinchcliffe and Vancouver's Sean McIntosh throughout the season -- the team finishing one spot below their final position in the inaugural A1GP battle in 2005-06 when McIntosh scored Canada's first series victory in Indonesia and Patrick Carpentier raced for the team in the final three rounds.