CHAMPCAR/CART: Darren Manning gets fulltime drive

British rookie Darren Manning gets fulltime drive in 2003 Champ Car World Series. INDIANAPOLIS (January 30, 2003) - One of the stalwarts of the Champ Car World Series for the last 10 years, Derrick Walker and his Walker Racing team announced...

British rookie Darren Manning gets fulltime drive in 2003 Champ Car World Series.

INDIANAPOLIS (January 30, 2003) - One of the stalwarts of the Champ Car World Series for the last 10 years, Derrick Walker and his Walker Racing team announced their plans today for a two-car, full-season effort in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Walker, who has had at least one entry in the series for each of the last 12 seasons, will field a car for one of the top young drivers in Europe as he announced today that Darren Manning will join the team as the driver of the #15 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone machine. The team has committed to run a second car, whose driver and sponsor will be announced February 4 at Sebring International Raceway in conjunction with Champ Car Spring Training.

The 27-year-old Manning made his first big splash on the North American racing scene in 2002, thrilling a hometown crowd at Rockingham Motor Speedway as he made his Champ Car debut in the Sure For Men Rockingham 500. Manning competed with the Dale Coyne-supported Team St. George and led 18 laps in his debut despite fighting a broken end plate on his rear wing, finishing the day in ninth place.

^ÓDarren has demonstrated his ability on many occasions during his career but we were extremely impressed with how easily he adapted to the Champ Cars last season at Rockingham,^Ô said Walker. ^ÓWe are very pleased to have him as part of our team and look forward to an exciting season in 2003.^Ô

As one of England^Òs top young drivers, Manning has built a strong resume in advancing to the Champ Car World Series. The 1999 Japanese F3 champion and winner of the prestigious Macau Grand Prix, Manning has served as a test driver for British American Racing in Formula 1 for the next two seasons while also competing in the FIA International F3000 series. Last season, he supplemented his testing duties with a ride in the ASCAR stock-car series but returns this season to the open-wheel machines where he made his name.

^ÓIt^Òs going to be great to have the opportunity to do a full season, especially with a team like Walker,^Ô Manning said. ^ÓI got a little taste of it last year and ever since then I^Òve really wanted to get in the seat for a full season. I^Òm really looking forward to it.^Ô

Walker Racing is no stranger to having success with young drivers, having won Champ Car races with Scott Goodyear, Robby Gordon and Gil de Ferran in the early stages of their careers. The team ran the last two Champ Car seasons with Tora Takagi, helping the Japanese driver earn a career-best fourth-place finish at Chicago Motor Speedway.

Manning will make his first appearance with his new team next weekend at Champ Car Spring Training at Sebring, starting his preparation for the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on February 23. One of the highlights of the year for Manning will be racing in front of his home crowd at Brands Hatch. The UK race will be held at Brands Hatch on the bank holiday weekend 3 - 5 May, bringing the top tier of North American open-wheel racing back to the historic track.

The Champ Cars will race on the Brands Hatch short circuit, the 1.2-mile track that was used for the USAC Championship Car Series (forerunner of the Champ Car World Series as we know it today) event hosted by Brands Hatch in 1978. Inaugural CART Champion Rick Mears took victory in the ^Ò78 race with an average speed of 95.37 mph driving a Penske PC6 Cosworth. Today^Òs generation of 775 bhp Champ Cars are expected to lap the track at an average speed exceeding 100 mph. The event promises to be one of the most exciting race weekends of the British motor sport calendar, combining the turbocharged fury of the Champ Cars with the wheel-to-wheel battles of the British Touring Car Championship. Off the track, the race weekend will be the perfect family day out with a host of attractions to appeal to all ages.

-bh/ah-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Robby Gordon , Scott Goodyear , Gil de Ferran , Tora Takagi , Rick Mears , Dale Coyne
Teams British American Racing