PKV RACING EVALUATES THREE DRIVERS AT SEBRING TEST
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - DECEMBER 15, 2005 - - PKV Racing, which is auditioning drivers for anywhere from zero to two spots on the team, concluded three days of testing and driver evaluations December 12-14 at Sebring Raceway in Sebring, Florida.
The team, which is currently in discussions with Cristiano da Matta, who piloted the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, about returning in 2006 and is still evaluating the possible resignation from his Champ Car seat of team co-owner and driver Jimmy Vasser, who was behind the wheel of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, tested three drivers over the three days at Sebring.
Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Dalziel and Giorgio Pantano each ran two full days for PKV Racing and all three where exceptionally competitive placing in the top-three on each of their test days.
"It was a very successful test for all three drivers," said PKV Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "We ran a different program with each driver and are extremely satisfied with the results," he said. "The PKV Racing engineering staff did a very good job setting up the cars--they were very fast and the crew did a great job preparing the cars and working with the drivers," McGee concluded.
Briscoe, who ran 14 events for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005 before suffering a season ending injury at Chicagoland Speedway, tested Monday, December 12 and Wednesday, December 14 running a total of 214 laps (355 miles). The 24-year-old Australian, who recently tested a Formula One car, was making his debut in a Champ Car. Dalziel, a 23-year-old Scotsman, who was the runner up in the 2004 Atlantic Championship Series and served as a consultant to PKV Racing in 2005 while also contesting one Champ Car event for Dale Coyne Racing placing ninth in Toronto, was on track on Monday and Tuesday, December 13 turned 230 laps (381 miles). Pantano, who placed second to two-time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais in F2000 in 2002, competed in Formula One for Jordan Ford in 2004 and ran six GP2 races plus two events for Target Chip Ganassi in 2005 with an outstanding showing at Watkins Glen International starting second and finishing fourth, ran the PKV Racing car on Monday and Wednesday for a total of 191 laps (317 miles). The 26-year-old, who hails from Italy, was also making his Champ Car debut.
PKV Racing co-owner Dan Pettit, who was on hand for all three days of testing said, "We were very pleased with the performance of all three drivers. This was not a shootout for a job, but an evaluation of three very talented young drivers. PKV Racing has not made a determination of how many, if any, seats are available for 2006. This test and others, as well as our on-going discussions with Cristiano (da Matta) and Jimmy's status, will all be taken into consideration as we evaluate what is best for the team in the future."
Vasser, who has been the subject of retirement rumors for several months, reiterated his position that he, in consultation with fellow PKV Racing co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Pettit, has not reached a decision on his status for next year, but "whatever we decide will be in the best interests of PKV Racing and that I will be a part of the team next year either as a owner/driver or an owner."
The 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season was the best in PKV Racing history. The team established a number of team records in its third year of operation. Among them: Vasser earned the team's highest season ending finish, placing sixth; da Matta scored the team's first victory winning in Portland (round #4), while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers also combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They both qualified in the top-five twice (Milwaukee and Las Vegas, Vasser -- third, da Matta -- fourth) and in the top-10 in a team record 11 races (in 13 attempts), including a team record six consecutive races. Da Matta and Vasser finished in the top-10 in the same race three times (eighth/10th at Long Beach; first/sixth, Portland and sixth/seventh, Montreal) and at least one of them placed in the top-six in nine of the 13 events including five consecutive races (the streak ended in Edmonton), which is also a team record.
Founded in January 2004, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing (PK Racing was established in 2003 with a different ownership group) will contest its third season of competition during the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. PKV Racing is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven, who also co-owns the Champ Car World Series, and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser. The team is managed by Jim McGee who joined the team as General Manager in January of 2005. McGee is the most successful Manager/Chief Mechanic in USAC/CART/Champ Car history having amassed 90 victories and nine national championships.
Next up for PKV Racing is another test at Sebring Raceway on December 20 -- 21 with Katherine Legge and Vasser. Legge, who earned three victories in her first Atlantic season, winning at Long Beach, Edmonton and San Jose, placed third overall in the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship as a rookie. She is the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America with her victory in Long Beach and is coming off tests in a Minardi Formula One car and an A1 Grand Prix car for Team Great Britain, both in November. Legge also got some Champ Car seat time with Rocketsports Racing on December 12.
For more information please visit: www.pkvracing.com or www.gulfstream.com.