IRL: Giorgio Pantano to drive for CGR in Sonoma

Target Chip Ganassi Racing Will Hit the Road With the Addition of Driver Giorgio Pantano Indianapolis, IN, Aug 17, 2005--Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced today the addition of Italian driver Giorgio Pantano to take over the helm of the ...

Target Chip Ganassi Racing Will Hit the Road With the Addition of Driver Giorgio Pantano

Indianapolis, IN, Aug 17, 2005--Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced today the addition of Italian driver Giorgio Pantano to take over the helm of the no.10 Target Toyota Panoz for both the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix on August 28 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, and the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix in New York on September 25, the final two road courses on the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series schedule. While the race in Sonoma will be Pantano's first experience behind the wheel of an IndyCar, extensive road course background and was more than enough to get the nod from Target team owner Chip Ganassi, who has a reputation for recruiting young talent.

"We're really excited to have such an experienced and talented road course racer added to our team for the Sonoma and Watkins Glen races," said Target team owner Chip Ganassi of the 26-year-old driver from Padua, Italy. "He was the best driver available to us and we couldn't be happier that his schedule allowed him to be able to participate in both races. Along with Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, we expect the Target Team to be the team to beat out there for these two road course races. We had a strong showing at the first street race in St. Petersburg. We're hoping the addition of Giorgio will help us turn the corner in that department and get to victory lane."

Last year, Pantano made his Formula 1 debut with the Jordan F1 Team running 14 Grand Prix races.

He began his racing career at the age of nine and quickly became a teenage sensation in karting collecting two Junior World championship wins (1993-94), three European Championships (1993-95-96); and three Italian national titles (1993-94-96).

His first year of single-seater competition was with the Swiss KMS team with whom he won the competitive German F3 2000 Championship, clinching the title with three victories and seven podium finishes.

The young Italian driver won at Monza in his debut season in the FIA F3000 in 2001 with the Coloni team, finishing the season runner-up to Sebastien Bourdais (2003 Champ Car Champion) in the Championship with three race wins. Pantano began testing with McLaren and then joined Williams in 2001 as their test driver. Another team change and another great performance in 2003 in the FIA F3000 series saw the young Italian driver take third place overall in the series. Pantano currently competes in the GP2 series with the Super Nova team out of England.

"Giorgio Pantano represents enthusiasm, excitement and a passion for motor sports and that is what this team is all about so this is a great fit for us," said Team Managing Director, Mike Hull of the addition of Pantano for the Sonoma road race. "While he is new to IndyCars, Pantano has the talent, background and experience to be successful right away and, as this is an IndyCar road course rather than an oval, the transition will be much easier as well. This team is looking forward to having all three of our Target drivers up front for these road course battles."

"This is a very good opportunity and a good challenge that Chip Ganassi and the Target team have offered me and I am looking forward to living up to expectations," said Pantano."This will be my first experience with IndyCars and I can't wait to get behind the wheel and get a feel for it. It is fantastic to be with a team that puts so much into winning."

While IndyCars may be a novelty to Pantano, and this will be his first visit to either Infineon Raceway or Watkins Glen International, he will be familiar with some of his fellow competitors; he has previously competed against 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Weldon and Kosuke Matsuura in karting and knows Target teammate Briscoe from racing in Italy.

Pantano will be available to the media to speak about joining the Target team on Friday, August 26th following the first on track practice session at Infineon Raceway in preparation for next weekend's race.

The green flag is scheduled to drop at the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Sonoma, California, next Sunday, August 28th at 3:30 pm EDT, and will broadcast on ESPN TV Live and can also be heard on the IMS Radio network.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Scott Dixon , Sébastien Bourdais , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull , Dan Weldon
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing