AFTER TWO COMPLETE DAYS OF CHAMP CAR TESTING, KATHERINE LEGGE PROVES HER SKILL FOR PKV RACING
SEBRING, Florida (December 21, 2005) -- If there was ever a doubt that British rising star Katherine Legge could handle the power of a turbocharged Champ Car, the determined 25-year-old racer put those concerns to rest Wednesday as she continued to impress in the final day of a two-day test session with PKV Racing.
For the second consecutive day, Legge logged 119 laps on the 1.66-mile road circuit at Sebring International Raceway for the PKV squad. She completed both long and short runs on the tough test track and posted a top unofficial lap time of 51.51 seconds, surpassing her quick mark from Tuesday of 52.04 seconds.
"It was an awesome experience. I have to give a huge thanks to both PKV Racing and (team co-owner) Kevin Kalkhoven for this opportunity," said Legge, who tested in very chilly conditions Wednesday with temperatures in the 50s under an overcast Florida sky. "Seeing as there weren't any other Champ Cars on the track during the test so there wasn't much rubber, I really wanted to reach a time of 51.5 and I was able to do that. We did a lot of laps and some pretty long runs and I came away from the experience knowing I did my very best."
After becoming the first woman ever to win a major open-wheel race in North America this season with three victories in the Atlantic Championship, Champ Car's top developmental category, Legge proved that she could handle the heavier and more powerful cars of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford during the test. She ran nearly 400 miles over the two days, clocking her fast lap during a mid-afternoon run on Wednesday.
"She did a great job and she's definitely not afraid to push the car to the limit," said Champ Car driver and PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser, who was on hand to supervise Legge's test in the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing machine. "We all watched Katherine race last year in Atlantics and we knew that she was a good driver. But until you work with someone you don't truly know how determined they are. After these last two days, one thing I know for sure now is that she has a tremendous amount of determination. She has the talent to compete at this level."
Vasser, the 1996 Champ Car series champion, said Legge will definitely be considered for PKV's plans for the 2006 Champ Car season. "We'll sit down as a team in mid January and look at all the data from the tests and make a decision from there," said Vasser. "Katherine, along with the other drivers we've been looking at, will certainly be in the mix when we get to that point."
Since finishing third in the 2005 Atlantic standings for Polestar Racing Group, Legge has reaped the benefits from her strong showing as a rookie. In addition to her Champ Car tests with both PKV and Rocketsports Racing, she's also driven a Formula One car and an A1 Grand Prix car. If she makes the jump up to Champ Cars next season or returns for a championship run in the new Champ Car Atlantic series, Legge knows she's certainly matured as a driver over the past year. "It's been an unbelievable year," said the native of Northampton, England. "Regardless of where I wind up racing, the experiences I've had will be a massive help to me on the race track in 2006."