CHAMP CAR TITLIST SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND NEWMAN/HAAS TEAMMATE BRUNO JUNQUEIRA TO COMPETE IN 12 HOURS OF SEBRING INDIANAPOLIS (February 28, 2006) -- With the start to the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford ...
CHAMP CAR TITLIST SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND NEWMAN/HAAS TEAMMATE BRUNO JUNQUEIRA TO COMPETE IN 12 HOURS OF SEBRING
INDIANAPOLIS (February 28, 2006) -- With the start to the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season fast approaching, two of the championship contenders are taking every opportunity to prepare for the challenge.
With Champ Car test time at a premium, two-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais and three-time series runner-up Bruno Junqueira will sharpen their skills by entering the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring March 15-18. The Newman/Haas Racing teammates will join the two-car Multimatic Motorsports effort, with Bourdais partnering David Brabham and Scott Maxwell while Junqueira joins Gunnar Jeanette and Tom Milner in the team's Panoz Esperante GTLM machines in the GT2 class.
"It is always important to get as much seat time as you can, especially at this time of the year since our Champ Car testing is so restricted," said Bourdais, who has also competed in the Baja 1000, the Race of Champions in Paris and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona during this offseason. "The race should be very interesting as well, and I am looking forward to it."
The race holds even greater significance for Junqueira, who will be turning his first race laps since the season-ending injury he suffered last May while racing at the Indianapolis 500. Junqueira has been back in the Champ Car since then -- testing his Newman/Haas Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone on Sebring's short course, but the 12-hour event will be his first competition since the injury.
"I feel good, my testing has been fine and I have no pain from my injury," Junqueira said. "But it will be great to shake off the cobwebs and do some race miles before the first race of the year."
The Champ Car World Series season kicks off April 7-9 with the prestigious Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an event that Bourdais won a year ago.
Multimatic and Newman/Haas Racing have a long-standing relationship, as the organization plays a key role in the technical development that has sparked NHR to Champ Car titles in three of the last four years. In addition, the Multimatic squad put together the Grand-Am Cup effort for Daytona that saw Sebastien and his father Patrick compete in the three-hour endurance race four weeks ago. That outing came as a reward from Ford after Bourdais claimed the Champ Car title a year ago.
For Junqueira, the race will be his first in a sportscar, although he does have experience on the 3.56-mile Sebring layout, having taken the opportunity to test on the full layout with his Champ Car a year ago. His teammate Jeanette is a familiar driver to the Newman/Haas team as well, having competed on numerous occasions with team co-owner Paul Newman in sportscar competition.
"It is certainly going to be different but my father raced with a roof over his head in touring cars for about 25 years in Brazil," Junqueira said. "I've always had a great relationship with all the guys at Multimatic through Newman/Haas so it is great to get to drive for them at Sebring."