Indianapolis, IN. (December 15, 2003) -- In preparation for the 2004 Champ Car season, Walker Racing completed a unique and intensive driver evaluation program with three of the top four finishers in the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, as well as the 5th place finisher in the 2003 F3 Euro Series. The four rookies racked up 1800 miles over the four-day test program at Sebring International Raceway and performed flawlessly as they demonstrated that they are ready for the next step in their careers.
"It is business as usual by preparing for the 2004 open-wheel racing season, and that means investing our time and effort into finding the next driving superstar" said team owner, Derrick Walker after last week's test.
Each driver went through a comprehensive evaluation program designed to provide the maximum opportunity to experience a wide range of disciplines required to drive a Champ Car, starting with two days in the shop for seat fittings and engineering meetings. On the track they experienced a full range of simulations, from qualifying runs, to pit stops, to full-tank runs. "In addition to their performance on the track, we are working with each of these drivers to enhance the commercial opportunities we collectively have available, so they can go racing in 2004 with us." said Walker.
2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship runner-up Michael Valiante said "This was one of the best experiences of my life, to have the opportunity to work with a team like Walker Racing, and to get such a real experience from changes to the car, to pit stops, it was just fantastic."
German driving star Timo Glock added "The first ten laps were unbelievable, going from 210 horsepower to over 700 plus horsepower and learning to control it. It was much easier to drive than I thought, it didn't feel heavy and was quite nimble and very predictable."
NTN Bearings driver Jonathan Macri also made the jump from the Toyota Atlantic series to the Champ Car test. "It took more muscle to control 700 plus horsepower compared to the Atlantic car, but the driving technique required is the same, you just have to be a little careful picking up the throttle."
2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship runner-up Ryan Dalziel also believed that the Atlantic series prepared him well for a Champ Car experience. "The speed was mind-blowing. I was surprised how fast it really was. We are going 40-50 mph faster in this car than the Atlantic, but we are applying the brakes at the same spot. Once adjusted to the speed difference, the car is quite fun to drive."
Based upon the success of the program, and the positive feedback from all of the drivers, Walker Racing is preparing to schedule additional tests, which also includes the possibility of an evaluation program on an oval track. Derrick Walker states "We will be inviting other drivers to join us in January to continue the evaluation process. We are investing in the future now, and these kinds of tests really provide both the team and driver with a lot of meaningful insight."