FORSYTHE ATLANTIC DRIVERS REVVED UP AFTER EXPERIENCING CHAMP CAR INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - March 17, 2006 - Last week at MSR Houston Raceway south of its namesake city, Forsythe Atlantic drivers James Hinchcliffe and Leonardo Maia got their...
FORSYTHE ATLANTIC DRIVERS REVVED UP AFTER EXPERIENCING CHAMP CAR
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - March 17, 2006 - Last week at MSR Houston Raceway south of its namesake city, Forsythe Atlantic drivers James Hinchcliffe and Leonardo Maia got their first taste of what they've been chasing their whole lives; the ground shaking power and enormous grip of a Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone Champ Car. Following the Forsythe Driver Development Program path of their teammates Andreas Wirth and Richard Philippe who got their chance behind the wheel of an INDECK Champ Car in February at Sebring, all four of Forsythe's Atlantic "Track Pack" have now seen for themselves what their future may hold.
Neil Micklewright, VP of Operations for Forsythe Championship Racing: "One of the big reasons we got re-involved in the Atlantic Championship for 2006 is the need to groom and evaluate talented young drivers as we prepare for the growth we expect in the Champ Car World Series, especially with the new chassis being introduced for the 2007 season. After seeing what our guys have accomplished in their Atlantic tests and in their recent test days in the Champ Car, we may have a dilemma on our hands as there's not much to choose from. All four are incredibly gifted and bloody quick. They each took to the Champ Car like ducks to water and were right on the pace immediately. These aren't easy machines to get on top of but our young drivers were impressive. It's going to be a very interesting season in the Atlantic Championship this year and we'll just have to wait and see who rises to the top. It is a dilemma, but a good one."
Andreas Wirth (German - #37 INDECK/Wirth Solar Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): "What should I say? IMPRESSIVE - just impressive, that's the word to describe how it feels to drive a Champ Car. It is awesome. The power is unbelievable and the braking as well. It is a dream. It showed me again where I want to be in the future. You can't really compare it to an Atlantic car. I would say the only thing which comes close is how the car handles. I mean how you steer and how it feels in terms of balance, but the rest is just another world. You have to be so careful on throttle especially when the tires are not on temperature yet. It is awesome if you drive out of the pits and have wheelspin until 4th gear! The Ford-Cosworth power is just so amazing, it's beyond words. I'm really, really thankful and appreciate the opportunity from Forsythe Racing that they let me drive their Champ Car. It is a huge experience and it helps you to drive an Atlantic car because it slows everything down a bit! For sure, I hope that I will spend a lot more time in this car in the future!"
James Hinchcliffe (Canadian - #3 Emexis/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): "The Champ Car was phenomenal! It was such a cool experience that words don't really do the car justice. It has so much downforce, such good braking, and the power is just ridiculous. Compared to the Atlantic car, it has what you would think would be logical steps in terms of braking and downforce. The car handles the high speed corners unbelievably well and the Bridgestone tires are very predictable. But the power is a massive step forward. Really nothing anyone tells you can prepare you for what happens the first time you hit full throttle - just awesome. I am so thankful that Forsythe gave us the opportunity to test it, and big thanks to the guys for putting up with all these 'kids' driving their cars!"
Leonardo Maia (American - #7 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): "It was nothing less than a highlight of my life to mash that throttle for the first time. The sound, the smell of the methanol, the way you have to modulate the throttle depending on the gear and the loads on the car - just amazing. The team helped make things really relaxed and provided an environment for us all to succeed, and it was a day I'll never forget for sure. The Atlantic car is an amazing machine, but I don't think there's an adjective in the dictionary that I can really use to describe what the jump to a Champ Car is like. It's a beast, just an amazing beast. I can't thank Forsythe enough for giving me this chance."
Richard Philippe (French - #33 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): "An Atlantic car is a very strong car, but there is such a big difference with a Champ Car it isn't even funny. There's just so much more of everything. Both cars have four wheels, but that's about the only similarity! The power is the biggest thing, but the brakes are amazing too. There's so much more downforce you can really stand on the brakes. For me, the best thing was getting comfortable in the car. I tested a Champ Car with Nelson's team a few months ago (older brother Nelson Philippe, 2005 driver for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing) but we didn't get a chance to do a proper seat fitting or even get the pedals exactly right. This time I had a proper seat and everything was adjusted perfectly, so it didn't take as long for me to quit thinking "Oh my God, this thing is so bloody fast" and stop holding on for dear life. This time I was able to relax a bit after about three laps, calm down and chill, control my breathing and get into a groove. It was great and I look forward to next time!"
Forsythe Championship Racing's Atlantic squad will join many other teams in Fontana, California next week (March 21-22) for an open test on the infield road course at California Speedway. It will be everyone's first taste of the new-for-2006 Swift 016.a chassis and 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine with 300 horsepower (up from 240 in the previous Atlantic chassis) and the newest version of Yokohama's Advan racing slicks. Then, it's just down the road to the first event of the season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9 as Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. For more information, please visit the official website of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at www.champcaratlantic.com.