Marco Andretti Earns Toyota Atlantic Championship Test Session INDIANAPOLIS (January 19, 2005) -- The Andretti family has a had a rich tradition of racing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and another generation will...
Marco Andretti Earns Toyota Atlantic Championship Test Session
INDIANAPOLIS (January 19, 2005) -- The Andretti family has a had a rich tradition of racing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and another generation will get an opportunity to show what he can do behind the wheel of a 240 HP Atlantic machine at the end of this month when Marco Andretti will test at California's Buttonwillow Raceway road course, January 26-27.
The 17-year-old son of 1991 Champ Car Champion Michael Andretti and grandson of legendary racer Mario Andretti earned the two-day Atlantic test session after capturing the 2004 Skip Barber National Championship Presented by RACER. The test is made possible through an agreement with the RuSPORT racing team and the Skip Barber Racing School, which was announced in 2003. RuSPORT joined the Toyota Atlantic Championship with a two-car program in '03 and won the series title that season with rookie A.J. Allmendinger. Showing its desire to help the continued development of top young open-wheel drivers, RuSPORT pledged to give a two-day test to the Skip Barber National champ through the 2005 season.
Both Allmendinger and RuSPORT moved up to the Champ Car World Series in 2004 and the Colorado-based team was able to continue its success as Allmendinger captured series Rookie of the Year honors. RuSPORT will work with the Sierra Sierra Enterprises team to host next week's test. Marco Andretti will pilot one of the Toyota-powered Swift 014.a Atlantic cars with Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks that the Sierra Sierra team guided to a second- and fourth-place finish in last season's championship with drivers Ryan Dalziel and Andrew Ranger, respectively.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity to drive a Toyota Atlantic car," said Marco Andretti. "This test is one of the great things that comes with being the 2004 Skip Barber National Champion and I'm really looking forward to learning about the car and working with the engineers. I want to thank Skip Barber, RuSPORT and the Sierra Sierra team and if everything my dad tells me is true about driving an Atlantic car, I'm going to have a lot of fun over the two days of the test."
Marco Andretti won't have to look far to get some advice on taming the Atlantic beast. Both his father and his uncle have experienced their share of success in the Toyota Atlantic series, beginning its 32nd year of competition in 2005. Michael Andretti captured the 1983 Atlantic crown while his younger brother Jeff Andretti finished sixth in the series in 1989.
"The year that I spent driving in the Atlantic series was honestly one of my most enjoyable seasons ever in racing," said Michael Andretti. "The competition package from the power to the driveability to the tires is tremendous in the Atlantic cars and we're really looking forward to Marco's test. It should be a real challenge for him at this stage of his career."
"We're certainly excited to have another generation of Andretti run in a Toyota Atlantic car," said Vicki O'Connor, Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. "We were fortunate enough to have both Michael and Jeff run with our series as they were developing their racing careers and Mario has always been a big supporter of the Toyota Atlantic Championship. We want to thank RuSPORT for continuing this important testing program with Skip Barber and we know Marco will be in good hands with the Sierra Sierra team. We wish him the best of luck."
RuSPORT compiled seven victories, nine poles and 12 podium finishes in its lone season of Atlantic competition. In its rookie Champ Car season in 2004, the team earned four podium results.
"RuSPORT is really pleased to continue being a part of this testing program with Skip Barber and the Toyota Atlantic Championship," said RuSPORT Team President Jeremy Dale. "These steps clearly helped A.J. and RuSPORT to develop and gain experience to compete at the highest level of motorsport in Champ Cars. I think Marco is going to have a great experience and do well in his Toyota Atlantic debut."
In addition to winning the 2004 Skip Barber National Championship, Marco Andretti won the 2003-2004
Skip Barber Southern Series title, captured the 2003 Skip Barber Eastern Series crown and won the 2002 Snap-On Stars of Karting National Championship. In 2005, Andretti will compete for the championship in the North American Star Mazda Series.
The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama 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.