CHAMPCAR/CART: Servia replaces Bell at Patrick Racing

After a somewhat erratic start to his ChampCar career, Patrick Racing announced today that they have signed former PWR, Sigma and PPI driver Oriol Servia to replace last year's Indy Lights champion Townsend Bell. The deal with Patrick Racing...

After a somewhat erratic start to his ChampCar career, Patrick Racing announced today that they have signed former PWR, Sigma and PPI driver Oriol Servia to replace last year's Indy Lights champion Townsend Bell.

The deal with Patrick Racing is for just five races, taking Servia through to the Rockingham round of the championship, which ironically was Bell's debut race for Patrick last season.

For Townsend Bell, the news will undoubtedly come as a huge blow as the team have effectively told the American 'to sit in the corner and think about what he has done' but for former 1999 'Lights champion Servia, it will be a chance to show what he can do after a dismal start to the season with the now defunct PWR team.

"Oriol is a very talented, young driver and the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has had several discussions with him over the last couple of years," Pat Patrick explained in a press release. "When he became available we had to take a very hard look at our current situation and what was best for our sponsor Visteon, the team, and Townsend. Putting Oriol in the car for the next five races will give us a chance to evaluate our race team, and give Townsend an opportunity to sit back and study things from a more objective position. After that we will see where we stand and go forward from there"

Servia moved to the US in 1998 and competed in his first full Indy Lights season finishing seventh in the championship standings that first year on the strength of six top-ten finishes. In 1999, Servia captured the Indy Lights Championship before making his CART debut in 2000 with PPI Motorsports. He scored championship points in 11 of the 20 events that year, led by his first career podium finish a third place showing at Detroit and a fifth place performance at Gateway International. Moving to Sigma Autosport in 2001, Servia had a solid season scoring points in nine of 20 starts. His top finish was fifth in consecutive events at Vancouver and Germany. Servia also demonstrated his consistency in 2001 by finishing 15 of the 20 events placing second in laps completed.

Most recently, Servia competed for PWR running the first three events of 2002, scoring points in all three races, finishing in the top-ten twice with a best showing of sixth in Motegi, Japan.

"I am very proud and happy to be joining the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team," Servia said. "This is one of the premier teams in the FedEx Championship Series and Visteon Corporation is a tremendous sponsor. I am looking forward to showing what I can do with the right team over the next five races.

"I have been watching the team since 1999 and have actually had several discussions with Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee over the last few years. Unfortunately, things never quite worked out. This time, all the pieces came together at the same time. I would have preferred to join the team under different circumstances. I know from experience how hard it is to work your way into this series, and I certainly didn't want to take someone's ride. However, when this opportunity became available it was obvious that it was the best situation for my career..."

-Courtesy of CART-Racing.com

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Series INDYCAR