CHAMPCAR/CART: Fittipaldi, da Matta on Rio race status

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (January 29, 2001) - Newman/Haas Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta were understandably looking forward to the upcoming Championship Auto Racing Teams Fed Ex Championship Series race in their home ...

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (January 29, 2001) - Newman/Haas Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta were understandably looking forward to the upcoming Championship Auto Racing Teams Fed Ex Championship Series race in their home country of Brazil on March 25. They had the following to say about the recent news that the new administration of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is reviewing all city contracts and has placed the March 25 FedEx Championship Series event on temporary administrative suspension.

, driver of the No. 11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "I am disappointed in this announcement not only as a Brazilian driver but also as a member of the CART FedEx series in general. The race in Rio is not only important to me personally but it is also a good event for sponsors in CART. Brazil is a big growth market for Texaco and it is good for us to race there. It would be especially disappointing not to race in Rio because of the success of the Brazilians in the series. Not only have we run competitively in the series, but the Champion is also a Brazilian. I think the race would be a big success this year because of the success of the Brazilians and because of what my uncle (Emerson, event promoter) has done for the past two years. He has really stepped up the game. I hope the new administration will reinstate the race in time for the March 25 date. The fact that the race is televised in most of the countries in the world is good, positive exposure for the city. I know that CART and my uncle will work hard to get the race back on the schedule."

Fittipaldi won the pole for the 1999 Rio event. His highest finish at Rio is a third place in 1999.

Cristiano da Matta, driver of the No. 6 Texaco/Havoline Toyota-Lola: "To be honest, I don't think Brazil has had such a strong presence in an international racing series. Never has Brazil had a better percent chance of winning the Rio race. I was looking forward to racing there with Newman/Haas as well and know the race is important to my new sponsor Texaco/Havoline. With live TV coverage of the races this year and the media hype, I am surprised this happened. I hope they can reinstate the race in time for the series to run in Rio. I was looking forward to racing on the road course. I liked running on the oval but I have run on the road course and was looking forward to going to a track where not all of the drivers had driven yet."

da Matta's highest finish in Rio is a fourth place in 2000.

-NHR

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta