DEFENDING ATLANTIC CHAMP CHARLES ZWOLSMAN EARNS SOLID RESULT AT MEXICO CITY IN CHAMP CAR DEBUT MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (November 7, 2005) -- Charles Zwolsman, the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama series champion, knew he'd...
DEFENDING ATLANTIC CHAMP CHARLES ZWOLSMAN EARNS SOLID RESULT AT MEXICO CITY IN CHAMP CAR DEBUT
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (November 7, 2005) -- Charles Zwolsman, the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama series champion, knew he'd face a steep learning curve in his first weekend of action in the Champ Car World Series. The native of the Netherlands also knew that once he got adapted to the increased power in the 750-horsepower turbocharged Champ Car, he would be able to relax and show what he could do.
Zwolsman gave a strong showing in his maiden Champ Car voyage, piloting the #25 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia car to a 13th-place finish on Sunday at the Gran Premio Telmex/Tecate Presented by Banamex race in Mexico City. While getting only one day of testing in the Champ Car on Thursday and trying to make the most of his track time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road circuit on Friday and Saturday, the talented Dutch racer began to shine on race day. He turned some very fast lap times, improving five positions from his 18th-place starting spot before taking his first checkered flag in Champ Car.
"I was pretty happy with the race and how I handled myself," said Zwolsman, who scored three wins, five poles and eight podium finishes on his way to earning the Atlantic title this season with Condor Motorsports. "This was a great opportunity for me and I really got a chance to see what you need to do as a driver to compete in the Champ Car World Series."
The Atlantic Championship, Champ Car and Team Australia worked together to provide a ride for Zwolsman at this weekend's season finale as a reward for capturing the crown in Champ Car's top development category this season. Zwolsman took advantage of the opportunity as he was part of a very strong weekend for Team Australia. All three of the team's drivers finished among the top 13 as Will Power of Australia finished 10th while Canadian racer and former Atlantic star Alex Tagliani earned an eighth-place result.
For Zwolsman, getting adapted to the boost in power from his 240-horsepower Atlantic car wasn't as drastic as just finding a comfort zone to showcase his skills in a Champ Car machine. "It was a little tough to just get my seat and everything set up properly so I could be comfortable inside the car. By Saturday qualifying I was pretty comfortable," said Zwolsman. "I was really expecting it to take more time for me to get used to the power, but it really didn't take that long. It sure is great having that much horsepower behind you, though. I felt like I was being launched in a rocket or something."
Both rounds of qualifying proved to be challenging for Zwolsman as he was forced to surrender his fastest timed laps in each session. He endured his first spin in a Champ Car during Saturday's final round of qualifying when he lost control of his machine in Turn 6, stalling on course to bring out a red flag and a stoppage to the session. "That was too bad because that was going to be a very quick lap, but I pushed it too hard and lost my best time for causing a red flag," remarked Zwolsman.
Starting 18th among 19 cars after recording a top qualifying lap of 1:29.503, Zwolsman began to attack the 2.786-mile course after taking the green flag. He posted some impressive lap times during the 70-lap race, even topping some of the marks established by his more experienced teammates during the course of the event. Zwolsman admitted that he made at least one error during the race, but fortunately it didn't cost him too badly. After just learning about pit stops with the Team Australia squad on Thursday, Zwolsman mistakenly looked at his teammate Powers' pit board during the race and came onto pit lane for service one lap earlier than the team was expecting. "That was a rookie mistake," said Zwolsman.
But the mistakes were few and far between for the driver who carried an impressive European road racing resume into his first year racing in North America in 2005. After demonstrating his ability to adapt quickly to the challenges of driving a hi-tech Champ Car, Zwolsman feels his strong result showed prospective Champ Car team owners that he's ready to compete in the series full time in '06.
"I think anyone who watched the lap times during the weekend and saw the race knows what I can do," said Zwolsman, who has already talked to some teams about off-season testing as squads look ahead to next season. "I will surely do everything I can to get to Champ Car next year and I really want to thank Champ Car, Atlantics and Team Australia for this opportunity."
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. Current Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. In 2006, competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion's bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.