CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Marcus Marshall preview

Aussie rookie checks out Long Beach on the eve of Champ Car debut. Australian Champ Car rookie Marcus Marshall has arrived in Long Beach on the eve of his historic debut in the 2005 Champ Car World Series. When the Queenslander hits the track...

Aussie rookie checks out Long Beach on the eve of Champ Car debut.

Australian Champ Car rookie Marcus Marshall has arrived in Long Beach on the eve of his historic debut in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

When the Queenslander hits the track for the first time on Friday, Marshall and Team Australia will become the first full-time Australian driver-team combination in the history of the championship.

Marshall will team up with Canadian Alex Tagliani for Team Australia -- a new Champ Car entry created for 2005 by veteran team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessmen Craig Gore and John Fish.

The team will contest the championship with major sponsorship from Aussie Vineyards, a new Queensland company established by Gore and Fish to export Australian wine into the US market.

"It has been great to actually arrive here in Long Beach and check out the track and experience the atmosphere, it has really pumped me up even more," said Marshall.

"Seeing the colours on the truck today with the green and gold, the kangaroo and the Aussie Vineyards signage, it feels like you are competing for your country -- it really is a fantastic deal to be a part of."

In new team mate Tagliani, who is entering his sixth Champ Car season, Marshall will have a proven benchmark to test his skills against.

"Having a team-mate like Alex (Tagliani) will be fantastic for me because he is an experienced winner and that will give me a great baseline to judge my performances against. I should also be able to learn a great deal from him - he has been extremely helpful so far," Marshall said.

"He will be able to help me with a base set-up for the car, which will be a brilliant starting point for me."

A winner in the British Formula 3 Championship last year, Marshall also successfully dominated the three Formula 3 races staged at last year's Lexmark Indy 300 carnival.

"I grew up on the Gold Coast and remember going to track as a kid to see guys like Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta racing and thinking at the time it would be brilliant to be able to race in Champ Cars one day," Marshall said.

"It is something you really dream of and it kind of hit me today when I was standing in a group photo with all those guys - this is really a dream come true."

The Australian Champ Car rookie has only ever raced on one street circuit previously -- right in his own "back-yard" on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

"Looking at the track today I can see some similarities to Surfers, but in other ways it is completely different," Marshall said.

"It is certainly going to be interesting to feel what it is like with all the power of the Ford Cosworth behind me in a Champ Car -- especially with all the cement walls around you. But it certainly looks like a fantastic track and a great place to have the race."

-team australia-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Marcus Marshall