Laguna Seca: James Hinchcliffe preview

Hinchcliffe Aims for Podium Perfection at Laguna Toronto, Canada (May 13, 2008) -- Keen to put a forgettable opening round behind him, Canada's James Hinchcliffe heads to California this weekend for Round 2 of the Cooper Tires Presents The ...

Hinchcliffe Aims for Podium Perfection at Laguna

Toronto, Canada (May 13, 2008) -- Keen to put a forgettable opening round behind him, Canada's James Hinchcliffe heads to California this weekend for Round 2 of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, hosted at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Friday 16th -- Sunday 18th May.

A tenth place finish at Long Beach was far from the result Hinchcliffe had targeted in launching his 2008 title bid last month, having been fastest in practice, but the 21-year-old Toronto resident arrives back in California this week confident of maintaining an excellent race record at the 2.238-mile Monterey circuit.

Making his Laguna debut in the Formula BMW USA Championship back in 2004, 'Hinch' recorded a third place podium finish there in a season that saw him finish runner-up in the title fight with three race wins while claiming 'Rookie of the Year' honours. The Canadian stand-out returned to Laguna the following season competing this time in the Star Mazda Championship. In a field that comprised such luminaries as Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal, James recorded his third and final victory of the year in the season finale -- Hinchcliffe sealing third overall in the final driver standings and the runner-up spot in the battle for 'Rookie of the Year'.

The Atlantic Championship returns to Laguna Seca as part of this weekend's 'Monterey Festival of Speed' -- the first time the series has raced at the track since the final round of the 2004 season. The current driver line-up has already had a taste of what to expect following a two-day pre-season test held in March. Piloting the #3 INDECK/Tire Rack Swift Mazda-Cosworth for Forsythe Pettit Racing, Hinchcliffe ended both days placed fifth on the time charts but his results, although competitive, actually belied a problem with his car, discovered after some post-test scrutineering by the team.

Having raced at Brands Hatch at the start of the month on behalf of A1 Team Canada in the season finale of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, James' focus now returns solely to Atlantic competition.

"Laguna Seca's probably one of the coolest tracks in North America," said Hinchcliffe. "There's so much history there and from a driver's perspective it's got a bit of everything. The elevation's incredible, there's a nice flow to the layout of the track and of course there's the infamous 'Corkscrew', which to be fair does disrupt the flow but it's cool in its own right! On top of that it's Mazda's home track so we're really hoping to put on a good show for them and all their attending partners."

"Our pre-season test at Laguna didn't really go all that well for us although we still ended up looking okay on the timesheets. That doesn't count for much though as we want to go out and win this race. There's no doubt that Jonathan Bomarito's likely to be our main competitor this weekend as it's his home track and he has a million laps clocked up around the place. We've done a bit of restructuring to the team since Long Beach so we're really hoping that's going to pay dividends at Laguna."

Round 2 of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda gets underway at Laguna Seca at 1pm (PST), Sunday 18th May 2008 -- www.laguna-seca.com

-credit: www.hinchtown.com

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Graham Rahal , Marco Andretti , Jonathan Bomarito , James Hinchcliffe