SECOND RISING Canadian Racer Michael Valiante Gets Another Chance To Shine In Champ Cars Driving For Dale Coyne Racing This Weekend In Portland Lynx Racing graduate and rising Canadian open-wheel star Michael Valiante will get a second...
Canadian Racer Michael Valiante Gets Another Chance To Shine In Champ Cars Driving For Dale Coyne Racing This Weekend In Portland
Lynx Racing graduate and rising Canadian open-wheel star Michael Valiante will get a second chance to shine in the at the G.I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland this weekend.
A last-minute deal with Dale Coyne racing to replace the departed Oriol Servia will see the 24 year-old Vancouver native run his second champ car race in the team's #19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth Lola. Valiante made his Champ Car debut with Walker Racing in the series' 2004 season finale in Mexico City, where he qualified 12th and finished 14th in the lone Reynard in the field.
Valiante's second chance to shine came when the Newman/Haas team secured the services of Oriol Servia until N/H regular Bruno Junqueira recovers from injuries sustained at the Indianapolis 500, which could take as many as six months. Valiante impressed the Coyne team in an off-season test.
"When we needed a driver, he was the first guy that we thought of," said Coyne. "He tested for us here Wednesday and was very professional."
Although this will be Valiante's first Champ Car race at Portland, he is no stranger to the track having run two Atlantic races there with the Lynx Racing team, finishing 3rd in 2003.
"I've been trying to get this opportunity for a long time and I'd like to run the rest of the season, but we'll just focus on getting finishing as well as possible in Portland and see how it goes," said Valiante, who scored a total of six wins in his two full seasons of Atlantic racing. "It's unfortunate what happened with Bruno and I hate to see anything like that, but that's how things happen in racing sometimes and that freed up this seat for me. Portland is one of the most difficult tracks to jump into because it has a lot of very fast, long-duration corners, so for us it will be important to get the car right in those sections this weekend. My engineer this weekend will be Kyle Brannan, who was a top engineer in the Atlantic series, and we're already working very well together."
Valiante raises the Canadian contingent in the series to four, as he joins Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani and rookie Andrew Ranger. Valiante is a graduate of Lynx Racing, the uniquely successful combination of driver development program and championship-winning racing team. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, Lynx Racing graduates include 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron, and Champ Car veteran Memo Gidley, now driving the Finlay Motorsports #19 Air Force Reserve / Make A Wish Daytona Prototype in the Grand American Rolex series. Valiante has also driven for the Finlay team, in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and again at California Speedway, where he led the race for 22 laps.
In the second practice session on Friday in Portland, Valiante was 13th in the 17-car field, just 1/10th of a second behind F1 veteran Timo Glock. Final qualifying takes place from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm PDT on Saturday, June 18, with the 4th round of the 2005 Champ Car World Series, the G.I. Joe's Grand Prix of Portland, scheduled to take the green flag at 12:45 pm PDT Sunday, June 19. The race will be televised live on CBS beginning at 12:30 pm PDT (3:30 ET).