PIZZONIA JOINS ROCKETSPORTS IN MONTREAL TO RUN SECOND CAR WITH PASTORELLI EAST LANSING, Michigan (August 23, 2006) -- Rocketsports Racing is happy to announce the return of Antonio Pizzonia to the Champ Car paddock this weekend as he will pilot...
PIZZONIA JOINS ROCKETSPORTS IN MONTREAL TO RUN SECOND CAR WITH PASTORELLI
EAST LANSING, Michigan (August 23, 2006) -- Rocketsports Racing is happy to announce the return of Antonio Pizzonia to the Champ Car paddock this weekend as he will pilot the #18 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone teaming up with Nicky Pastorelli for the Grand Prix de Montreal. Pizzonia turned heads on the Rocketsports Racing team back in March when he tested a Champ Car for the first time. With only a few hours of seat time, he was running laps close to the best times that were posted by other Champ Car teams at that venue, which resulted in a very positive test and left a strong impression with the Rocketsports team owner, Paul Gentilozzi. He signed a one-race deal with the team to make his Champ Car debut in Long Beach, California piloting the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. He qualified 11th (which is the best starting position the team has earned thus far in 2006, matching Pastorelli's Portland start) and by 11 laps into the race, he was running in the sixth spot. He held his own in his first Champ Car event and finished the day in the top-ten, 10th overall.
"I am so excited to be returning to the Champ Car paddock," said Pizzonia. "I am really looking forward to having another opportunity to run with the Rocketsports team and think that we can have a good weekend together in the #18 Rocketsports car. I am familiar with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from my past days in Formula One (raced in Montreal in 2003 as a driver for the Jaguar Racing Team in F1), so that is a definite plus for not only me as a rookie Champ Car driver, but it will also be a nice advantage for the team. I hope to have a good weekend, enjoy myself, and leave Montreal with a good finish for Rocketsports."
Pastorelli has made eight Champ Car starts with the team. He came on board after the one-off race with Pizzonia at the beginning of the season and made his debut in Houston driving the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. The Italo-Dutch driver will remain behind the wheel of the #8 car this weekend as he looks to compete on his second road course in a Champ Car and for the second time in Canada.
"I am looking forward to running on familiar racing terrain this weekend," said Pastorelli. "Back in Europe I raced on a lot of different style road courses, so I am excited to try out the Montreal circuit. I am also looking forward to working with Antonio this weekend because it is always great to have a teammate to work with, especially one that knows the track already. The team and I tested at Road America in Wisconsin at the beginning of the month, so I had a little taste of what it would be running on a permanent road course once again. That test went pretty well, so I am looking forward to what I can do in the #8 Rocketsports car this weekend with the help from my team. They had a good result here last year with a rookie, so I hope that I too can have a good weekend in Montreal and have a solid finish."
A 'rookie' tag is not too bad for this team at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. During the team's rookie year in 2003, then-driver Alex Tagliani earned the team's second pole position and went on to finish fourth in Montreal. Last year, Rocketsports driver and 2005 Rookie-of-the-Year Timo Glock found himself in front of the pack in Montreal pacing his first laps in a Champ Car. He maintained the lead for 19 laps as the Molson Indy Montreal headed toward the checkered flag. After a penalty forced Glock to give up the lead on the final lap of the race, he still finished on the podium as the runner up. The Rocketsports driver was the only rookie to finish in the top ten last year and was awarded a point for obtaining the most positions during the race after starting 11th.
Tonis Kasemets, who has piloted the #18 Rocketsports Champ Car in four races this season with the team, will return to the Champ Car cockpit at Road America, which is his next scheduled race with the team after signing a six-race deal. However, he will be in a different-kind of cockpit -- a closed one -- this weekend as he will be co-piloting the team's Rolex Series Daytona Prototype in Sonoma, California with Tomy Drissi for the Sonoma 250 at Infineon event on Saturday, August 26.
Pizzonia and Pastorelli will join the team in Montreal as they begin to prepare on Friday for the Grand Prix de Montreal. Final qualifying will be hosted on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. EST, which will determine the starting lineup for Sunday's race. The green flag will drop for the start of the Grand Prix de Montreal at 1:30 p.m. EST and can be seen live on NBC Sports or by logging onto www.champcar.ws and signing up for Race Director.