MEMO ROJAS OF MEXICO JOINS TOYOTA ATLANTIC FIELD FOR TECATE/TELMEX GRAND PRIX OF MONTERREY PRESENTED BY ROSHFRANS INDIANAPOLIS (May 17, 2005) -- It may only be Tuesday, but it's already been a good week for Mexican driver Memo Rojas.
MEMO ROJAS OF MEXICO JOINS TOYOTA ATLANTIC FIELD FOR TECATE/TELMEX GRAND PRIX OF MONTERREY PRESENTED BY ROSHFRANS
INDIANAPOLIS (May 17, 2005) -- It may only be Tuesday, but it's already been a good week for Mexican driver Memo Rojas. The skilled 23-year-old racer became the newest addition to the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship field when it was announced today that Rojas will join one of the top teams in the series to compete in front of an expected capacity crowd in his home country of Mexico at this weekend's Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans (tape-delayed broadcast on SPEED Channel - Saturday, May 28 at 2 p.m. ET).
A native of Mexico City, Rojas has raced within the Champ Car driver development system and he joins the Atlantic series for Round 2 of the championship this week at the 2.104-mile Fundidora Park road circuit in Monterrey, Mexico. Rojas will step in for Brazilian Fernando Rees in the #10 championship entry for Brooks Associates Racing, with support from his longtime Mexican sponsor Telmex.
"I really developed my career racing in the U.S. series and I'm excited to be back and running in Toyota Atlantics," said Rojas, who spent the 2004 season competing in Europe. "I wanted to come back with the experience I had from racing in Europe and run in my home country in front of the Mexican fans. I want to thank (team owner) John Brooks for helping me work this out and thank you to Telmex for continuing to help my racing career."
After honing his racing skills in the Mexican Formula 3 and the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 championships in the late 90s, Rojas continued to shine while entering the Champ Car system in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2002-2003. He finished fifth in the final series standings in 2002 and posted victories at both Toronto and Montreal while finishing as series runner up in 2003. Rojas wound up the '03 season just 60 points behind Barber Dodge Pro Series champ Leo Maia in the final rundown. Last season, Rojas raced in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, recording two top-five finishes in his first taste of European competition. He finished third at Donington and produced a fourth-place result at Dubai.
Rojas already has one start on the Monterrey road course under his belt as well. He finished on the podium in the 2003 Barber Dodge race, taking the checkered flag in third place, just under half-a-second behind the winner. Rojas knows the driver that won that race very well -- fellow Mexican and Monterrey native David Martinez (#32 Roshfrans) -- who also joins the '05 Atlantic lineup this weekend, competing for the US RaceTronics team. Rojas and Martinez are good friends off the track but they've had an on-track rivalry brewing since they ran against each other in the Mexican Formula 3 series. The friendly competition continued in the Barber Dodge series and last season in Europe and it will heat up again in front of the Mexican faithful this weekend.
As one of only three drivers in the Atlantic field with experience racing in Monterrey -- Martinez and Polestar Racing Group's Antoine Bessette (#3 Unik Auto Design) are the others -- Rojas feels that he could produce a strong result in his series debut, if he can adapt to running an Atlantic car quickly during the course of the weekend.
"The experience I have at this track is an advantage, but I haven't tested in the Atlantic car and I don't really know the team, my engineer or the car very well," said Rojas, who hopes to continue racing for the Brooks team after Monterrey. "We're going to have to work very hard in those first few practice sessions."
The Toyota Atlantic Championship will also welcome a talented American driver back to the fold this weekend in Monterrey. Adam Pecorari, who made two series starts last season with Jensen Motorsport, rejoins the Jensen team for his first action of '05 this weekend competing in #2 entry with sponsorship from Konica Minolta/Penn Capital.
"I'm excited to be back. Atlantics is definitely where I want to be," said the 20-year-old Pecorari, who raced at both Montreal and Laguna Seca last season, producing a top result of ninth at Montreal. "I want to be the next Ryan Hunter-Reay or (AJ) Allmendinger. I talked to a bunch of teams about putting something together for (the series season opener at) Long Beach, but it just didn't get done. I definitely want to thank (team owner) Eric Jensen and (sponsors) Konica Minolta and Penn Capital. Hopefully it works out well in Monterrey and we can keep it going for the rest of the year."
Toyota Atlantic action in Monterrey begins Friday, May 20 with practice and qualifying sessions. The cars return for the final round of qualifying on Saturday and the Atlantic race is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:15 p.m. ET on Sunday. Follow all of the action from Mexico through the live timing link at the series' official Internet website, www.toyotaatlantic.com.
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. Current Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Toyota Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.toyotaatlantic.com.