CHAMPCAR/CART: Face to face in Montr?al

With the Molson Indy Montréal CART race to be held at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve next August, racing fans will be able to directly compare the Champ cars and Formula 1, for the first time in history. GPF1 President and race promoter Normand...

With the Molson Indy Montréal CART race to be held at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve next August, racing fans will be able to directly compare the Champ cars and Formula 1, for the first time in history. GPF1 President and race promoter Normand Legault confirmed at the Molson Indy press conference held Wednesday in Montréal that both Formula 1 and CART races will share the exact same track configuration, contrary to previous speculation. Pit area will have a slightly different configuration to accommodate for CART's different pitstop needs; in the same vein, the paddock area will be enlarged to make room for the CART teams transporters. Otherwise, the only difference is that one race will take place in June, and the other one at the end of August.

Interestingly, asked about any political issue with Formula 1 and/or CART organizing bodies for a direct confrontation, Normand Legault simply said: "I asked Bernie (Ecclestone) early in the game, 2-3 years ago. Bernie is a personal friend and I've always kept him in the loop. In fact, he's never had any objection and he's pretty keen on the idea. This whole thing about Bernie being opposed to Formula 1 and CART on the same track is more or less a urban legend and a purely academic debate, since he's never had any demand for such a project, until this year in Montréal. At any rate, Bernie is open for this kind of idea."

And how about the people at Championship Auto Racing Teams? "From the start, they wanted to come to Montréal. CART racing has always been highly popular in Canada, plus the Grand Prix in Montréal is a massive success. The equation was easy to figure for them. The only question was the track. At the end, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve was the more logical choice. CART and more especially Chris Pook, who I've known for more than 20 years, are mature enough to accept sharing the same track layout with Formula 1."

Normand Legault went on to explain: "And besides, Formula 1 and CART don't compete against each other, but complement each other. Any serious racing fan perfectly knows the strengths and weaknesses of both series, especially here in Montréal, where fans have been following both series for many years. And even if one series end up being a few seconds slower than the other one, it won't matter, really. The fans want high-quality race entertainment, and close action on the track. A 5 or 6 seconds more or less on the track are the least of their concern, if they see close racing."

And how about you personally, Mr Legault, any concern about doing business with both Formula 1 and CART, something that would have been considered an heresy just a few years ago? "Formula 1 and CART are now two communicating vases now. Drivers have switched series in the recent past, and even teams collaborate; Ganassi and Williams for instance. On a personal level, I have good relations with both Bernie Ecclestone and Chris Pook, so no, I have no concern at all."

Patrick Carpentier was also at the press conference, always cheerful and ready to make jokes, even though he had spent the previous night flying from Las Vegas to Montréal in the midst of a snow storm. "I'm really looking forward for the August race" admitted the Joliette, Québec native. "I won here in Atlantic series, and I've always wanted to come back and race in front of my home crowd. Same goes for Alex, who also won here in Atlantic. For me, it'll be a major point in my career. Fans here are just incredible. Also, the mix of an action-prone track layout like the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and a highly competitive series like CART will be explosive. Fans will see action like they've rarely seen."

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Chris Pook , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Williams