Montreal, Quebec, November 19, 2002 Team Player's announced its drivers' lineup for the 2003 CART Championship today, as Patrick Carpentier returns for his sixth season and fellow Canadian Paul Tracy signs on as his new teammate.
"We are delighted to have two exceptionally talented drivers who are immensely popular with racing fans, not only for their on-track achievements but also because of their personality, which has made both of them outstanding ambassadors for Canadian auto racing," said Bob Bexon, President and Chief Operating Officer of Player's Ltd.
Carpentier, 31, has just completed the most productive season of his CART career, finishing in third place in the drivers' standings with 157 points. Carpentier earned a pair of race wins in 2002, in Cleveland and Mid-Ohio, and made his way to the podium in Rockingham (England), Surfers Paradise (Australia) and Fontana (California).
The Joliette, Quebec driver, who joined Team Player's in 1998, is pleased that the new contract will enable him to remain in the CART series with a team that is familiar to him and an organization that shares his pursuit of excellence.
"For the first time in my career, I was really free to go anywhere I wanted," stated Carpentier. "My decision to continue my association with Player's is an expression of confidence in the team and the constant progress that it is making. There is a really good chemistry between me and my engineers and a great relationship with my mechanics. It felt good to know that they were just as eager to have me back with the team."
Paul Tracy becomes the fifth Canadian driver to race for Team Player's in the CART series. The drivers who have preceded Tracy in this regard are Jacques Villeneuve (1994-95), Greg Moore (1996-99), Patrick Carpentier (1998 to present) and Alex Tagliani (2000-2002). Tracy, who garnered four podiums in 2002 a victory in Milwaukee, second place in Vancouver and third in Cleveland and Surfers Paradise completed the season in 11th position in the drivers' standings with 101 points.
"I've driven for some great teams since I've been in the CART series, but as a Canadian driver I'm extremely proud to be joining Team Player's, not just for the patriotic angle but also because of the quality of the staff on the team and the presence of a teammate for whom I have a great deal of respect," said Tracy.
Paul Tracy is the winner of 19 races in his career, including five in his first full CART season in 1993. The Scarborough, Ontario native, who turns 34 on December 17, will be with his fifth team since graduating to the CART series.
"Patrick is coming off a phenomenal year where he showed everyone that he has the speed, the poise and the determination to be a consistent race winner and championship contender, while Paul is among the fiercest competitors in racing, bringing a wealth of experience and track savvy that makes him a constant threat for the checkered flag," said Bexon, who also announced the team will use the Lola chassis in 2003.
Along with today's announcement, Team Player's indicated that Alex Tagliani, who is under contract for the 2003 season, would not return to the team after efforts to secure funding for a third car proved unsuccessful.
"Running a racing team is a delicate balancing act and you try not to let emotions influence your decision-making process," added Bexon. "It's always difficult to part ways with a talented driver like Alex, who has achieved great success in his three seasons with Team Player's, and we are working diligently to help him secure a ride with another team in the CART series."
The 2003 CART season begins on February 23 with a race through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.