Buddy Rice, an American champion, to drive for A1 TEAM USA in A1GP opener at Zandvoort
Buddy Rice will drive for A1 TEAM USA in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2007-08 season opener Sunday at Zandvoort, a 2.6-mile, 11-turn circuit on the Dutch coast.
It will be the first A1GP race for Rice, who has tested for a total of 2 0x00bd days at Silverstone in the Lola-Zytek mandated by the series.
"We've developed some good, reliable information on what the 'We The People' car likes in our tests and the challenge we face at Zandvoort is finding the optimum performance during a race weekend," Rice said. "I haven't raced there before, but we have a strong engineering staff with experience in A1GP and at Zandvoort and that will be a short cut to my learning curve.
"There is very tough competition in A1GP. I've been impressed by the drivers in our tests and some of them have raced at Zandvoort before. We'll have to bring our A game and I'm confident we will."
Rice, of Phoenix, Ariz., will become the first Indianapolis 500 champion to race in A1GP. He's a veteran of the IRL IndyCar Series and finished ninth in the championship this season. The 31-year-old won the Toyota Atlantic championship in 2000.
Driving for A1 TEAM USA will be Rice's inaugural campaign in a global series. There are 11 events on the A1GP 2007-08 schedule.
"I'm very excited to have this opportunity to drive for A1 TEAM USA and represent my country in the World Cup of Motorsport," Rice said. "It is an honor and carries a new type of responsibility. You always want to do well for your team and yourself and, now in A1GP, for my country."
A1 TEAM USA, owned by Rick Weidinger of Washington, D.C., enters its third season in A1GP. It was ninth in the 22-nation championship last season.
"We're excited to have Buddy in the 'We The People' car," Weidinger said. "I have been impressed with how well Buddy has communicated technical information with the team during our tests and he knows how to win races. We've finished second a couple of times and that was good, but not good enough. We won't be really happy until we get our first victory."
A1 TEAM USA's Phil Giebler, the 2007 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, finished second at Zandvoort last season.
The A1GP event at Zandvoort begins with practice and qualifying on Saturday, followed by the Sprint and Feature races Sunday. There will be no all-rookie practices at Zandvoort.