PAGENAUD AIMS TO KEEP LEAD IN TACT AS PATRIZI JOINS TEAM AUSTRALIA ATLANTIC SQUAD
Team Australia Champ Car Atlantic driver Simon Pagenaud is confident that a recent test and a return to road course-style racing will all work in his favour as he aims to maintain his lead in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship this weekend in Round 11 of the series in Montreal, Canada.
Pagenaud tested last week at the Sebring road course, putting the #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne Swift through its paces in readiness for the final two rounds of the championship, which are both held on fast and flowing circuits.
The Team Australia star and the Aussie Vineyards squad are looking to this weekend's round as one that should favour Pagenaud, who grew up racing on the similarly fast and wide open circuits of Europe.
The Frenchman will be joined by a new team-mate this weekend in Australian driver Michael Patrizi, who will make his Champ Car Atlantic Championship debut in Montreal.
Patrizi has raced for Team Australia once before, driving for the team's Formula BMW USA squad at the Grand Prix of Denver in a one-off appearance. Patrizi is the 2005 Formula BMW Asia Rookie Cup Champion and was second in the overall championship that same season.
This year the former Australian karting champion has been competing in the Formula BMW UK Championship on a fully-funded deal from BMW Motorsport. Patrizi will compete in the final two rounds of the Atlantic championship for Team Australia.
Patrizi is well aware of the challenge he faces this weekend, jumping into the competitive Atlantic field at this late stage in the season. But the mature Australian rising star realises what is required of him in Montreal and will be doing his best to learn the ropes as he supports Pagenaud's efforts to win Team Australia its first championship.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
Simon Pagenaud -- #15 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne Swift
"Sebring was a great test for us," said Pagenaud.
"The test went pretty well and we found a lot of really good things on the car. It's slightly different, but good and the car is much better and a lot easier to drive and much quicker.
"I'm the happiest guy right now because this really helps my confidence for Montreal. I've been watching lots of tape on the circuit, which has really been helping me.
"Montreal is just my type of track. It's European style. It's a wide track, very smooth and lots of curb. I just can't wait to race. I'm taking it step by step and the car feels great, so it should be a great weekend."
Michael Patrizi -- #5 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Swift
"It's really exciting to be joining Team Australia for Montreal and Road America," said Patrizi.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I appreciate Craig and Derrick offering me the chance to drive the Aussie Vineyards Atlantic car at two of the best circuits on the schedule.
"I have been lucky enough to drive a Team Australia car once before in Denver last year and it was an amazing experience. It's a very motivating feeling to get into one of those green and gold cars and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity by Team Australia.
"Thankfully the final two rounds of the Atlantic Championship do not clash with the final two rounds of the Formula BMW UK Championship. It's quite a difficult time to be flying across the Atlantic Ocean, but it is definitely worth it.
"I've been following Team Australia's progress this year and Simon has been doing a superb job. It will be great to drive alongside him as he drives for the championship.
"The whole Atlantic championship has risen to a new level this year so I am itching to get over there and have a steer of the new car. I understand that it will be a huge challenge for me this weekend in Montreal, but I am fully aware of what I have to do."
Derrick Walker -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"I think the Montreal track itself is a challenging track," said Walker.
"It's a good driver's track so it offers a lot of variation, which is technically good for drivers. All of our team's drivers will find the Montreal circuit an encouraging and challenging track.
"Certainly for the Atlantic program and for Simon, it's a key event. Even though he has not driven at Montreal yet, I think it will be more of a track that is better suited to his experience having come from Europe and the importance of it for our championship run is critically important."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia Co-Owner
"There is no doubt that the French portion of the crowd in Montreal will be cheering for Simon this weekend as he tries and extend his championship lead," said Gore.
"Simon knows what is at stake with only a couple of rounds remaining and I am sure he can get the job done.
"We are also looking forward to giving another young Australian his first start in Atlantics this weekend when Michael jumps behind the wheel.
"Michael has a big task ahead of him, but we just want him to go out there and get comfortable and enjoy himself. We are under no elusions as to what he should achieve this weekend and he knows that.
"I am sure he will be professional and do the job required."
-credit: team australia