INDIANAPOLIS (December 6, 2000) -- Two-time series champion Alex Zanardi of Italy will join promising young Brazilian Tony Kanaan as Mo Nunn Racing expands to a two-car team for its second year of CART FedEx Championship Series competition in 2001.
Also new for 2001: both the Pioneer Electronics (Zanardi) and Hollywood (Kanaan) Mo Nunn Racing Reynards will be powered by Honda, which has produced the last five CART driver champions, including Zanardi's back-to-back titles in 1997-98, and propelled Kanaan to his first Champ Car victory at the 1999 U.S. 500, and his Rookie of the Year title in 1998.
The 34-year-old Zanardi returns to the CART series for the first time since winning the second of his back-to-back titles and will pilot the new Mo Nunn entry sporting the colors and brands of Pioneer Electronics, headquartered in Long Beach, Calif.
"The opportunity is so good that I cannot continue with my 'vacation,'" said Zanardi, who recorded 15 race wins and 10 poles in 51 CART starts from 1996-98. "I am looking forward to working with Morris again, and I'm thankful to Pioneer and Honda for making this possible."
Kanaan, the 25-year old veteran of three Champ Car seasons, returns for his second year driving the #55 Hollywood-backed team entry after earning seven top-10 finishes in the team's inaugural season.
"When we began this adventure, we intended to be a two-car race team all along," said team owner Morris Nunn , who engineered Zanardi's 1997-98 titles during a four-year championship run at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing before starting his own team a year ago this week.
"Frankly, though, we really didn't expect to bring together a program of this caliber, with competitors like Tony and Alex, quite this soon. I'm very happy to have on board a proven champion in Alex, and a young champion-in-the-making in Tony. It's the best of both worlds from a team owner's standpoint."
Meanwhile, new sponsor Pioneer begins its third season as a sponsor on the CART circuit in 2001.
"Pioneer is pleased to work with Morris Nunn and to be a part of the team that is bringing two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi back to the 2001 race series," said Ed Sachs, executive vice president of Pioneer's Car Electronics Division. "As a technology-driven company, Pioneer is proud to be a part of this excellent new team with a fantastic driver, great engineers and strong leadership."
Three-time series manufacturers champion Honda welcomes back a driving duo that has accounted for 16 of its 53 CART wins since joining the circuit in 1994.
"We're delighted to begin our association with Mo Nunn Racing," said Robert Clarke, general manager of Honda Performance Development. "It will give Honda the opportunity to reunite with several individuals who each have contributed to our success in Champ Car racing: two-time champion Alex Zanardi; Tony Kanaan, a former rookie-of-the-year and U.S. 500 race winner; and of course, team owner Morris Nunn."
With the new season just around the corner, Nunn was quick to thank Mercedes-Benz, which has left the series in order to focus on its Formula One program.
"We appreciate everything that Mercedes-Benz and Ilmor Engineering meant to this program," Nunn said. "They were largely responsible for this team happening in the first place, and they helped us tremendously every step of the way during our first season. While they had other plans, we certainly had a great relationship and wish them well."
The team plans to embark on an aggressive off-season testing schedule this month. Next season's opener, the first of 22 races on the 2001 calendar, is set for March 11 at an all-new road course facility in Monterrey, Mexico.