GTI ATLANTIC TEAM TO BRING EXPERIENCE AND HISTORY OF SUCCESS TO CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC SERIES IN 2006 INDIANAPOLIS (November 23, 2005) -- The recently-formed GTI Atlantic team will rely on some gifted racing engineering experience and a promising...
GTI ATLANTIC TEAM TO BRING EXPERIENCE AND HISTORY OF SUCCESS TO CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC SERIES IN 2006
INDIANAPOLIS (November 23, 2005) -- The recently-formed GTI Atlantic team will rely on some gifted racing engineering experience and a promising young driver eager to make a strong comeback when it joins the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama in 2006.
The GTI squad plans to field a two-car program in the new Atlantic series next season. The team has already settled on one of its drivers as 25-year-old British racer Charles Hall will pilot one of the Swift 016.a/Cosworth/Yokohama new generation Atlantic machines over the series' 12-race schedule in '06.
When Hall lines up on the starting grid in the season-opening race at Long Beach for GTI Atlantic next April it will represent both a homecoming and the culmination of a long road back to racing for the native of Sheffield, England, who's suffered through disappointment and tragedy over the last two years.
Hall raced in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2001, posting top-10 finishes in four of his five races, including a top result of fourth place at Cleveland. He then excelled in the Fran-Am open-wheel series, capturing the Fran-Am Winter Series championship in 2003. He battled 2004 Atlantic Rookie of the Year and current Champ Car rising star Andrew Ranger for the Fran-Am Pro Series title in '03 before finishing second to Ranger in the final standings.
As Fran-Am made the transition to the North American Formula Renault championship in 2004, Hall was forced to the sidelines as funding issues prevented him from competing for the series crown. In 2005, Hall was preparing to race in the GP2 Formula One development series when an accident brought his plans to a sudden halt. In early February of this year, Hall was struck by a drunk driver while traveling in a passenger car in the UK. Both the driver of the other vehicle and his passenger were killed in the accident as Hall suffered injuries including a crushed femur. He missed all of the '05 season as he tried to recover from both the physical and mental scars from the crash.
Just a few weeks ago, Hall underwent surgery to correct a discrepancy in length among both of his legs, a result of the damaged right leg from the accident that impacted his ability to walk and drive. His original injury and the subsequent surgery have left Hall a bit shorter than when he last raced. Measured at just over 5-feet-11-inches two years ago, Hall is now 5-feet-10-inches as he continues to rehab at a clinic in Italy.
After competing with the GTI Motorsports team during his Fran-Am experience, Hall is happy to be a part of the new GTI Atlantic team for his comeback as the squad utilizes some of its old resources under a new banner and management in 2006.
"We want to be in a position to win races and compete for championships with both Charles and his teammate and we believe the Atlantic championship will present the opportunity to do just that," said Robert Lewis, one of the new GTI Atlantic team principals. "With a new car, new chassis, new engine and many new teams, the series will certainly be on a more level playing field."
The team will rely heavily on the engineering acumen of Peter Berry to help get to the front of the Atlantic grid. Berry, the team's chief engineer, has been the driving force behind numerous race wins and championships. He brings a wealth of F3 racing experience and helped guide current Formula One and former Champ Car star Juan Pablo Montoya to Victory Circle in the 1996 British F3 series. This past season, Berry engineered the Coloni GP2 team that featured drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Mathias Lauda, son of former world champion Niki Lauda.
"I am delighted to be returning to the Atlantic series and to be a part of the new GTI Atlantic team and its superb engineering staff, headed by such a well-respected engineer as Peter Berry," said Charles Hall.
With its team headquarters located in Houston, Texas, GTI Atlantic will look to begin testing with Hall in early January. The squad is actively seeking a driver for its second entry as it hopes to hit the ground running in the new year.
"We don't underestimate the mountain that we'll need to climb to get up to speed. We'll need to do a lot of testing to make sure we're ready for the start of the season," said Lewis. "We're anxious to settle on another driver as we know that for a successful championship run we really do need two cars competing in the series to learn and share knowledge."
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. Champ Car 2005 competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. In 2006, competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion's bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.