BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Sigma Autosport announced today that Massimiliano (Max) Papis, one of the top stars in the CART FedEx Championship Series, has signed a contract to drive the #22 Champ Car in 2002.
Papis, 32, of Como, Italy, who now resides in Miami Beach, Fla., is not only a "fan favorite," but also a top contender in the FedEx Championship with the Sigma Autosport Champ Car.
"Since I was a little kid I dreamed about racing and winning, but I also imagined how and what tools were necessary to accomplish my goal," said Papis. "If today I can consider myself among an elite group of drivers that compete in one of the most prestigious world championships, it's because I was able to follow my path with will and dedication, believing in myself, my values and always working for the team.
Dedication is one of the key elements at Sigma Autosport and Papis agrees.
"I am glad to have found in Tom Wieringa and his organization a very similar mentality that I have," said Papis. "Sigma is a very young team with a lot of desire to be at the top of the game."
The 2002 Sigma technical package will be the same as the one Papis successfully raced with in 2001.
After a great partnership in 2001, I'm glad to continue my relation with Ford-Cosworth and Lola Cars," explained Papis. "In 1999, I gave Ford's XF engine the debut win and I'm ready to deliver Sigma's first triumph in 2002."
Sigma owner Tom Wieringa said he looks forward to working with Papis this season.
"We are very happy to have Max come on board with Sigma," said Wieringa. "Having Max on the team, coupled with other recent enhancements positions us a chance to win the CART title. His background, and talent will help the team through this promising season."
Papis began his racing career in go-karts in 1982. He then progressed to the Italian Formula 3 series, and Formula 3000. In 1994, Papis was 5th in the international Formula 3000 series and drove for the Footwork-hart Formula 1 team in 1995. After moving to the IMSA World Sports Car series with Ferrari in 1996, Papis began his CART career that same year with Arciero-Wells Racing.
Papis is coming off an excellent 2001 season in CART, with a win from the pole at Portland, and a well-judged win at Laguna Seca. He ended the season championship 6th overall. Papis is one of only five drivers to score multiple victories and in his last six super speedway races; he led 427 laps, more than double that of any other driver. Overall, he has three victories and two poles in his CART career, nine podium finishes and was named to the inaugural CART All-Star Team in 1999 after a "breakout" season ended with a brilliant fifth place in the championship.
Two weeks ago, Papis set a new track record at the Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona, Fla., while testing for the Rolex 24-Hours endurance race. Papis will participate at the event with Doran Racing on Feb. 1-3.
Sigma Autosport, based in suburban Chicago, begins its second season in the CART FedEx Championship. Sigma was one of the top new teams in CART for 2001.
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