Courtesy of CART Online
Indy Lights Champ Tony Kanaan Steps Up To Champ Cars With Tasman
CART Online (December 20) -- Tasman Motorsports Group team owner Steve Horne has confirmed that 1997 Indy Lights champion Tony Kanaan will pilot one of the team's entries -- sponsored by LCI International and partners Mitel Semiconductor, Gatorade, MTV and Silicon Graphics -- in the 1998 FedEx Championship Series. Kanaan has been signed to a five-year contract.
"Tony has been with us for two seasons in Indy Lights and we have built up a very good working relationship," said Horne. "He has proved his competitiveness and winning ability both in individual performance and season-long performance with his Indy Lights championship win. To be able to sign him to a long-term contract provides us with two of the very fundamental ingredients that are needed in today's intense competition in CART -- stability and a very fast driver."
Kanaan, 22, is a native of Bahia, Brazil who now resides in Sao Paulo and Miami, Florida. He made his North American racing debut two years ago, finishing runner-up in the PPG-Firestone Indy Lights Championship, and claimed the champion's title this season with two wins, 12 points-paying finishes and seven podium visits.
"We did a pretty good job together the last two years," said Kanaan. "I am very excited about continuing our relationship. Steve (Horne) has given me the best opportunity possible and I am very happy. From what I have seen from our testing with both the 1997 and 1998 Reynards, we have a very competitive package. The chassis and engine have both improved, and for sure we have the best tires."
Kanaan will pilot a Reynard 98I Champ Car, powered by the new Honda HRK engine on Firestone Firehawk tires.
"We are very pleased to continue our ongoing relationship with LCI," said Horne. "I believe that they have been one of the leaders of the new breed of sponsors in CART. We are very proud of our association with them and with our marketing partners."