Team Australia/Walker Racing start 2007 driver search

TEAM AUSTRALIA/WALKER RACING BEGINS SEARCH FOR CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC 2007 LINEUP AS THEY TESTED INTERESTED DRIVERS EARLIER THIS WEEK AT MSR HOUSTON Indianapolis, IN (November 3, 2006)- Preparations for the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic season have...

TEAM AUSTRALIA/WALKER RACING BEGINS SEARCH FOR CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC 2007 LINEUP AS THEY TESTED INTERESTED DRIVERS EARLIER THIS WEEK AT MSR HOUSTON

Indianapolis, IN (November 3, 2006)- Preparations for the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic season have already gotten underway for Walker Racing, as the they completed their first series of tests earlier this week at MSR Houston. The team embarked on their search for interested drivers to complete their 2007 lineup. Walker Racing tested four standout drivers, each with a unique racing background. The first batch of talent to test with the team included Formula BMW USA star Simona De Silvestro, Star Mazda talent Canadian Kevin Lacroix, Formula Palmer Audi Champion, Englishman Joe Tandy, and British Formula 3 standout, South African Cristiano Morgado.

Walker Racing made the jump to run an Atlantic team last season, announcing the move at the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfer's Paradise Australia. 2006 marked the first year for the team and a very good season at that, as they brought home the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship title with Frenchman rookie Simon Pagenaud.

This week's test marks the first in a series of tests for the Indianapolis based squad as they continue to make efforts to formulate the 2007 lineup. Keeping another championship title in mind, Walker Racing is looking to expand the two car operation and to sign multi-year contracts to build longer lasting relationships with the drivers. "We are currently testing a number of interested drivers. The team looks forward to the 2007 season as we plan to expand the Atlantic program and increase the number of cars," stated Walker Racing owner Derrick Walker.

All four drivers liked working with the team, enjoyed their time in the Atlantic cars and hope to be in the Champ Car Atlantic Series next season as they got the opportunity to sample the Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a car October 28-31.

Making her mark in Houston was Swiss, Simona De Silvestro. The 18-year-old just came off of a successful 2006 Formula BMW USA season with one win, six podiums and 11 top-ten finishes in 14 races finishing 4th in the overall championship. The young Swiss showed her talent as she made huge improvements and really took to the team and the Atlantic car throughout the two day test.

"Testing was great," exclaimed De Silvestro (pictured below). "The car was quite impressive because there is a lot more horsepower and down force, which is a lot different from what I'm used to driving. It took some getting used to the Atlantic car, but I improved a lot in two days and the whole Walker Racing team was very helpful and showed great teamwork. I really had a great time and loved it."

Jumping aboard the Atlantic car for the first time as well was former Formula Palmer Audi champion, 23-year-old Englishman Joe Tandy. Tandy had great success in 2005 as he scored six wins, and 11 podiums, finishing first in the overall championship. The young Brit took to the Atlantic car as he continued to get quicker throughout the day as he learned the car. Excited to have the opportunity, Tandy had a full day of testing.

Kevin Lacroix is a 17-year-old Canadian who competed in his first season in the Star Mazda series this year finishing 2nd in the championship scoring five podiums and 11 top-ten finishes out of twelve races. In 2005, Lacroix attended BMW driving school in Valencia, Spain earning a scholarship for the Formula BMW USA series where he scored 4 victories, 6 top-five and 10 top-ten finishes. The young Canadian was on a roll this week as he adjusted quickly to the Atlantic car and to the team.

"What a nice car to drive. It's a lot different compared to the Mazda. Driving the Atlantic car is like driving a big boat, but it's a lot faster and more stable. In the first run I was slower, but I took more time to learn the car and once I got used to the power, I was fast. The whole Walker Racing team is so helpful. The engineers are young and have a lot of experience, which is great. The test went really well and I really enjoyed the opportunity," stated Lacro.

The fourth driver testing the Walker Racing Atlantic car was 27-year-old South African, Cristiano Morgado who progressed nicely throughout the afternoon of testing. The former two-time Rotax Max World Kart Champion just recently completed his rookie season in British Formula 3 where he scored four victories. Morgado spent a whole day learning and adjusting to the car as he spent the first day warming up and the latter part making changes.

The test proved successful as it gave each driver a taste in the Atlantic car. Walker Racing will continue preparing for the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic season with another series of tests as they search for interested drivers to complete the lineup for next season. For more updates on the team visit www.walkerracing.com.

-credit: ta/wr

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Kevin Lacroix , Simon Pagenaud , Cristiano Morgado