CHAMPCAR/CART: Zolder: Rocketsports Racing preview

Tagliani and the ...

Tagliani and the #8 Rocketsports Crew Prepare for Back-to-Back Races in Europe

Alex Tagliani and his #8 Rocketsports Racing crew prepare for some good road racing experience at two new venues in Europe as the team gears up for their first stop overseas in Belgium, as the Champ Car World Series returns to the European market for the first time since 2003.

Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series will be hosted in Belgium and Holland. The Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix will take place on August 24-26 at Circuit Zolder in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. Immediately following that event, the series will head north to Assen, Holland for the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix Presented by Audi, Gantz, and Hertz at TT Circuit Assen on August 31 - September 2.

"I think this is a great opportunity for Champ Car's return to Europe," said Rocketsports Racing team owner and Champ Car World Series co-owner Paul Gentilozzi. "The series has worked very hard to get back into the European market, and I think that they have established two great venues which will have great success hosting their first Champ Car races this year. As Champ Car continues to expand its distinct brand of racing entertainment around the world, this will be a great way to introduce North America's premiere open-wheel race series with our international drivers piloting the innovative DP01 Champ Cars to new countries such as Belgium and Holland."

The Champ Cars will visit Belgium for the first time in the series' 98-year history with a race at historic Zolder. The track was a frequent host to Formula 1 in the 1970's and 80's with races won by legends such as Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda and Jackie Stewart.

The permanent road course is 2.622 miles, consisting of 12 turns. The Belgian Grand Prix is one of the most important motor sport racing events of the year, and it will be backed up by various high qualifying support races and a festival atmosphere. Motorsport fans, Champ Car fans, and other aficionados of ‘the American Way of Life' will all meet up in and around the Circuit Zolder paddock, where the first Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix will turn into a real "Festival of Speed, as in the United States.

Excited about the trip, is the driver of the #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone, Tagliani, who has roots in Italy. Although he was born and raised in Canada, both of Tagliani's parents are from Italy, and his grandparents and other family members still reside in the country.

"I am very excited to return to Europe to race Champ Cars. It will be very nice to add some new European race tracks to my resume. I am sure that we are going to get the chance to see and meet so many people from different places since there are a lot of countries that are so close to where these races are going to be held. It will be a great experience for all our fans over in Europe to finally see the Champ Cars live, especially with the new DP01 chassis. It will also be a great opportunity to showcase our great product, the American equivalent to Formula 1, to new spectators and those people that generally just enjoy racing, or having a good time. I think that both events in Belgium and Holland have the potential to be very successful. I know that Champ Car is capable of putting on some great race events; I just hope that we can put on a great show on-track to impress all while we are out there.

"It will also be special to me because we are racing close to Italy, which is where I have family and friends. Both of my parents are from Italy, and I have been there many times, so it will be an honor to race over there where hopefully some Italians will head over to see the events going on and cheer for me extra loud!"

The on-track activities to kick off the inaugural Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix will begin with a practice session on Friday, August 24, morning. The first round of qualifying will take place that afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. CET (Central European Time, 8:30 a.m. ET in the states). Saturday will host another morning practice session before the final round of qualifying takes place at 2:30 p.m. CET. After a morning warm-up session on Sunday, the Champ Cars will grid at 1:15 p.m. CET and Round 11 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series will be underway at 2:00 p.m. local time. The Belgium race can be seen live on Sunday, August 26, in the States on ESPN Classic with coverage beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET. There will be a replay of the race on Monday, August 27 at 2:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Fast Facts

* This will be the first time that Rocketsports Racing and driver Alex Tagliani run at Circuit Zolder.

* Alex Tagliani, driver of the #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone, started his Champ Car career in 2000. This season marks his eighth year of competition. He will attempt to make his 128th start when he takes the Green Flag in Belgium. He has recorded one win, five poles, and 14 podiums throughout his Champ Car career.

* Tagliani will be making his return to Europe racing in Champ Cars. The last time he raced in the European market was with the Rocketsports team in 2003 when Champ Car competed at Brands Hatch in the UK and Germany's Lausitzring.

* Champ Car is unique as it races on street courses, road courses, and airport surfaces. After ten races this season, Tagliani has had the opportunity to compete on three natural road-course surfaces. In those events, he has earned two top-five finishes and one eighth place result. He has qualified in the top eight or better on a road course this season.

* To date, this has been an unlucky season for Tagliani, who started off strong with three starts fourth on the grid and three top-five finishes in the first four races. He has made ten starts this season, all of them but one has been in the top nine or better. He has finished in the top eight or better in eight of ten races this season. His best start and finish this season is fourth.

* Tagliani has sat in the top five of the 2007 Champ Car championship standings for most of the season, up until this point. He currently sits 9th overall, with 161 points. He is only nine points out of returning to the top five.

Driver Quote: Pre-race on Zolder event

Alex Tagliani #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"I have never been to the Zolder Circuit, so I am quite excited to see it and experience it for myself. This is a particularly special venue for me, because this is where Gilles Villeneuve died back in 1982. Being Canadian, he was a true racing icon for our country and also somewhat of a hero to me, as I thought he was a great race car driver and wanted to follow in his steps. I plan to have some kind of memorial to him, while we race at Zolder this weekend. I also hope to have a very good race, because I will be racing in his memory. As far as the track goes itself, I think it is going to be very interesting. I don't know enough about it, other then seeing a few photos, so I can't wait to get out on the track to do our track walk with the engineers on Thursday. That will give us the best technical vision that we can have before actually getting out there in the #8 Rocketsports Champ Car. I think it should be a good event, I look forward to seeing how things go and hopefully finishing the race weekend on the podium."

-credit: rocketsportsracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Jackie Stewart , Paul Gentilozzi , Mario Andretti , Niki Lauda , Gilles Villeneuve