Sebring: Gonzalez signs with Carsport America

Mexico's Ricardo Gonzalez inked to pilot Pagani. Gonzalez to run full ALMS season with Carsport America. February 18, 2003 Glendale, WI -- Carsport America is thrilled to announce the addition of Mexico's Ricardo Gonzalez to the team's...

Mexico's Ricardo Gonzalez inked to pilot Pagani.
Gonzalez to run full ALMS season with Carsport America.

February 18, 2003 Glendale, WI -- Carsport America is thrilled to announce the addition of Mexico's Ricardo Gonzalez to the team's new Pagani GTS effort. Gonzalez will be the lead driver in the team's new Pagani Zonda, starting with the season-opening Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and continuing for the full 2003 American Le Mans schedule. Gonzalez will also get behind the wheel of the new stunner at Le Mans.

The 24 year-old Gonzalez, brother to CART's Roberto Gonzalez, brings his driving talents to Carsport America's new challenge to the ALMS GTS Championship. In 2001, Gonzalez finished 4th in the European FC Championship, with 2 podium finishes, a pole and a lap record. In 1998, 1999 and 2000 Gonzalez distinguished himself in the Mexican Indy Lights Panamerican series, with several podium finishes and many top 5 results. In 1994 and 1995 Gonzalez ran in Mexico's International FIA F3 series, where he was the youngest ever participant - winning a pole in his first event and accumulating several top 5 finishes.

"I'm really excited that Ricardo has joined us for the season," said team owner Tom Weickardt. "Ricardo brings a new energy with him that will be invaluable toward our assault on the GTS championship. This will be Ricardo's first visit to Sebring, and his first turn behind the wheel of the Pagani -- and the Pagani's first ever race as well. I know that we'll all definitely put our best foot forward with this first race. I'm also sure that as time goes by, and we continue to develop the car, and as Ricardo gets more and more time behind its wheel - you'll start seeing Ricardo on the podium."

Gonzalez will join Belgium's Anthony Kumpen and The Netherland's Mike Hezemans in the team's Pagani Zonda for the legendary North American endurance event. The Sebring classic will mark the new car's racing debut in the ultra-competitive GTS class.

The sleek, eye-catching sports car will be powered by a 6.0-litre V12 Mercedes engine and will hit the tarmac with Pirelli tires.

Carsport America is team owner Tom Weickardt's new evolution for the 2003 season -- and beyond. Carsport America, in addition to fielding the new Pagani Zonda, will also field a Dodge Viper GTSR. Weickardt himself will climb aboard the Viper at Sebring, together with France's Jean-Philippe Belloc -- the 2001 FIA GT Driver's Champion and former French Formula Three and French Formula Renault Champion. A third driver will be announced soon.

"I'm anxious to debut not only our new Pagani at Sebring, but Carsport America as well," said Weickardt. "We're bringing everything we've learned over the past few seasons into this year's effort. We've bolstered our squad with some additional very experienced personnel, and we're going to field the exciting new Pagani - in addition to one of our tried-and-true Vipers!"

For additional insight into the new Carsport America program, please visit www.ashcom.homestead.com/PaganiTom.html

Carsport Modena, owned by Weickardt, Toine Hezemans and Paul Kumpen, holds the worldwide rights to build, develop and market the new Pagazi Zonda GTS racer.

-ca/hc-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jean-Philippe Belloc , Anthony Kumpen , Roberto Gonzalez , Ricardo Gonzalez , Tom Weickardt