RONDET READY FOR SEASON-OPENING HOMETOWN RACE PALM DESERT, CALIF. (April 7, 1999) - Nicolas Rondet is preparing for a number of firsts for next weekend's Kool/Toyota Atlantic Championship race, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach CART ...
RONDET READY FOR SEASON-OPENING HOMETOWN RACE
PALM DESERT, CALIF. (April 7, 1999) - Nicolas Rondet is preparing for a number of firsts for next weekend's Kool/Toyota Atlantic Championship race, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach CART FedEx Championship, April 16 - 18.
Not only does Long Beach mark the first race of the 12-event 1999 Atlantic season, it's also Rondet's first appearance on the 1.85-mile temporary street circuit and his first full season of Kool/Toyota Atlantic competition.
"It is true that Long Beach presents a number of firsts for us this year," said Rondet, who makes his home in San Diego. "However, the only first that we're really concerned about is the first finishing position. We feel that we've done our homework over the winter and we'll see where we stand once we all finally hit the track at the same time."
And on the track is exactly where Rondet feels most at home. In fact, he literally stunned the Atlantic field last year when he ran in fourth position in his series debut at Laguna Seca, then followed-up by putting his World Speed Motorsports car in the third starting spot in Houston.
"Nicolas certainly surprised a lot of people and proved that he's more than capable of running up front," said Chuck West, owner of World Speed Motorsports and a former leading Atlantic driver. "Our intention was to introduce him to the series last year in preparation for the full season this year. We've really come together as a team in recent months and Nicolas clearly brings the experience and expertise to put us in the position to challenge for the championship."
Rondet, who was born in Melle, France, and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, brings an international flavor to this year's Atlantic series. His racing roots began nearly ten years ago on the Brazilian karting circuit. As his natural driving ability and some luck would have it, he progressed to the highly-acclaimed European Formula 3 series, where he won four out of five races en route to the 1993 series championship. He then contested the British Formula Ford series before taking the French Citroen Cup championship in 1994.
1995 brought Rondet to the United States where he finished 5th overall in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge 2-liter series, despite only running in ten out of 20 scheduled races. He captured the series championship in 1996 as well as the Skip Barber Big Scholarship Shoot-out, then advanced to the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 1997, finishing 5th overall with three podiums and one pole en route to the rookie title. A limited Barber Dodge schedule in 1998 resulted in 7th overall with three podiums and one pole.
A leading force in the Kool/Toyota Atlantic series, World Speed Motorsports maintains two overall Atlantic qualifying records (Homestead Motorsports Complex and Road America) set in 1997 with team owner West behind the wheel.
The CART Kool/Toyota Atlantic race is scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm on Saturday, April 17.