HVM WITH MINARDI ENTERS THREE CARS AT TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH Indianapolis, IN (April 10, 2008) - HVM Racing, together with Minardi, will play their part in ensuring the Champ Car World Series enjoys a high-profile send-off, when...
HVM WITH MINARDI ENTERS THREE CARS AT TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
Indianapolis, IN (April 10, 2008) - HVM Racing, together with Minardi, will play their part in ensuring the Champ Car World Series enjoys a high-profile send-off, when they field three cars for the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20.
At the wheel of the #33 PDVSA-HVM Racing entry will be EJ Viso, the team's full-time driver in the 2008 IndyCar Series. Joining the talented Venezuelan will be popular Frenchman, Nelson Philippe, driving the #4 Minardi-HVM Racing chassis and Brazilian, Roberto Moreno, piloting the #14 Minardi-HVM Racing entry. Entirely fittingly, all three drivers have competed successfully for the team at various stages in its history, and it's certain that each will be striving to make his mark at this high-profile event.
The 2008 Grand Prix of Long Beach will go down in the history books as the final race of the Champ Car World Series, but at least as significantly for those drivers and teams that have moved to the IndyCar Series this season, the race will provide them with the opportunity to score points on the same basis as their IndyCar rivals, who will also be competing that weekend, but several thousand miles away, in the Bridgestone Indy-Japan, at Twin Ring Motegi. In short, this will provide the "transitioning teams" with a one-off opportunity both to use their DP01 chassis for a final time and to compete on one of the world's great street courses before rejoining the regular IndyCar schedule for a succession of ovals.
EJ Viso is coming off an impressive drive at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, having led the race for 11 laps and finishing 4th. He is currently ranked 8th in the IndyCar Series Championship standings and 2nd in the highly competitive Bombardier LearJet Rookie of the Year title battle. This will be EJ's first race in the DP01, although he is familiar with the car, having spent four days testing at Sebring International Raceway this past winter with the HVM squad.
"I am looking forward to Long Beach and thrilled to attend this "historic" last Champ Car race. It will be a tough one for me as I don't know much of the DP01 except for the two tests I ran with the team, and I have not raced on this circuit before. The competition will be stiff with many drivers entering this event on a one-off basis, but it makes it more exciting for the fans and more challenging for me. The team knows the circuit and has an excellent track record with the car, so we should do well and hopefully improve on our excellent result in St-Petersburg."
Nelson Philippe will be back with the team (then called CTE Racing-HVM) that helped him score his single Champ Car World Series win, at Surfers Paradise, in 2006. He will go down in history as the youngest driver to win a Champ Car race at that event. Nelson finished 4th in the Championship that year, backing up his victory in Australia with two additional podiums and six further top-10 finishes. He also competed in the final two races of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season at the wheel of a DP01. Long Beach was Nelson's Champ Car debut in 2004 in which he became the youngest driver to ever start a Champ Car race (17 years, 8 months, 11 days).
"This will be a bittersweet weekend for me. On one hand I am so happy to be back in a race car with the team that led me to success, and on the other, I am a bit sad to say goodbye to the series and cars that made my career here in the U.S. However, I want this weekend to be fun and light-hearted so that people remember the Champ Car World Series as it truly was, fun and exciting! To be back with Wiggy's (Keith Wiggins) team is awesome, I missed all the guys last year and I am especially honored to be teamed with Vince Kremer (Team Manager) again. I have been out of a car for more than six months so it will be a difficult weekend but I am in top physical shape and cannot wait to strap myself into those 750 hp monsters one last time! Long Beach is where I started my career as a 17-year-old Champ Car driver so it is only fitting that I end it there...as a 21-year-old veteran. I'm looking forward to working with EJ and Roberto; I'm sure we will get along fine and deliver a strong performance for Minardi/ HVM Racing. I also want to thank every single Champ Car fan for making this series the best place to race on earth; I hope you enjoyed it because I certainly did!"
Roberto Moreno hardly needs an introduction in Champ Car circles, the highly experienced Brazilian having been on the open-wheel racing scene for many years. He last drove for the team in 2003, when it was known as Herdez Competition, and finished 2nd in Miami that year. More recently, Roberto was chosen as the official test driver for the new DP01 chassis and logged thousands of miles in the car prior to its introduction, at the start of the 2007 season. He had one Champ Car start last year, at Houston, driving for Pacific Coast Motorsports.
"Long Beach holds a special significance for me. In 1982 it was my first race in the U.S. and I drove an Atlantic car that my team and I rented from across the ocean. We ended up finishing 2nd to Geoff Brabham in the race. That result eventually led to Rick Galles hiring me and giving me my first opportunity to race full-time in America. It all began at Long Beach. Additionally, I am looking forward to this race for other reasons. Firstly, because Champ Car invested a lot of money to get the DP01 rolling, and I equally invested as much of my time in the development of it. Having an opportunity to race the car I helped develop is a pleasure. I'm also looking forward to re-joining the team that gave me a great opportunity in 2003. Keith believed I was the right driver to help the team grow then (with Mario Dominguez). I have been out of a car for awhile, and it is not easy, but working with a team that you know and who believes in you is very important."
"Well, it has been an interesting year so far, with the first two IndyCar Series events, and now here we are back wearing our Champ Car shirts for the last time. With three cars running instead of one, and with two of our previous drivers running with our new one, it's very exciting. You can never tell what's going to happen in this business. We're greatly looking forward to the last Long Beach for Champ Car, as we always anticipate this event and we're hoping to make it a good one for the last time we run the 750hp cars. We'll also look forward to coming back next year with the others."
"This coming weekend marks the end of an era and I'm sure it will be a memorable race for both teams and fans alike. >From Minardi's perspective we will be doing our utmost to finish on the podium."