Laguna Seca: Josh Hunt preview

Laguna Seca Finale For Hunt Wright Patton Shakespeare supported Queenslander Josh Hunt is aiming to finish his inaugural year of Toyota Atlantic competition on high when the final round of the Championship hits America's famous Laguna Seca ...

Laguna Seca Finale For Hunt

Wright Patton Shakespeare supported Queenslander Josh Hunt is aiming to finish his inaugural year of Toyota Atlantic competition on high when the final round of the Championship hits America's famous Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, California this weekend.

With the Laguna Seca circuit being included in the Playstation 2 game Grand Tourismo Three Hunt has spent the majority of his spare time over the past two weeks in front of the television setting some quick times around the 2.238 mile (3.581 km) circuit.

"I have been to Laguna Seca once before when I completed about 20-laps in a sports car but any advantage you can get is a bonus," said Hunt.

"The game is very realistic with the layout of the track being very detailed, even down to the set up of the cars which is something I have been playing with a fair bit over the past couple of weeks.

"Throughout the year I have learnt a lot about driving these open wheelers but also about suspension settings and set ups as well, my times have dramatically improved over the past two weeks on the Playstation.

"However this weekend there is no restart button, it is a serious race weekend and I am looking to capitalize on the pace I showed in the last round."

At the last round of the Championship in Montreal Hunt set the pace for opening practice before again qualifying inside the top ten and was fifth fastest in the race morning warm up.

Unfortunately for the 19-year-old his race ended early when he ran wide collecting the concrete wall on the third lap of the race.

"After the practice session I had good confidence, especially considering it was wet and I was on top of the charts for the majority of the session," said Hunt

"Then to be inside the top five on race day showed that we had a good race package and gave me an extra boost entering the race.

"For one of the rare times this year I got a bad start and lost a couple of spots, then pushed a little too hard in the early laps which proved to be my downfall.

"As I expected when I began this Championship you learn something new every time I climb aboard the car and that pattern continued in Montreal and I expect it to continue this weekend."

After showing great promise in the opening 11 rounds of the Championship Hunt was offered an opportunity to take up the option of driving in this year's Lexmark Indy 300 or extending his US career for another year last week.

The 19 year-old, who is rated as a future star by many critics, made the mature decision of backing his long-term goal of a full-time Champ Car ride thanks to the support by Queensland business man Craig Gore's Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group and Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven for another year in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2005.

"I was presented with two incredible options -- gaining another year of experience in the US under the tutorage of Champ Car series owner Mr Kalkhoven or having a one-off drive at Indy," said Hunt.

"I'm just 19 so really the only decision I could make was in the interests of furthering my career with the continued support of Mr Kalkhoven and Mr Gore.

"I know how difficult it is to break into the US and to be given the option of a second year over there was more sensible than putting everything on the line and hoping that a good one-off drive at Indy this year would open up future options."

Hunt remains the key to WPS Racing's junior development program and will join the WPS V8 Supercar team at the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 in Bathurst and at the Lexmark Indy 300 in an off-track support role next month before returning to the US to prepare for the 2005 Toyota Atlantics Championship.

The time at the in Monterey is 17 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Hunt is the first Australian to compete in the Toyota Atlantic Series since Besnard in 1999 and has received major support from Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group, which is owned by Gold Coast business man Craig Gore, and Champ Car World Series Co-Owner and Aussie Kevin Kalkhoven.

All Toyota Atlantic cars are manufactured by Swift Engineering and powered by a 1600cc Toyota engine 240 horsepower producing speeds in excess of 160 mph (260 kmh) while using a 15-inch diameter lightweight aluminium wheels mounted with Yokohama tyres.

Run in conjunction with the eleventh round of the Champ Car World Series, this is the 31st year of competition for the Toyota Atlantic Championship and is regarded as the premier training ground for the future stars of the sport.

The Toyota Atlantic race at Montreal is the final of 12 rounds in the Championship. All 12 scheduled races this year will be run in conjunction with Champ Car World Series events on tracks that include road courses and ovals, as well as street and airport circuits with eight rounds in America, one in Mexico and three in Canada.

-jhr-

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Josh Hunt , Kevin Kalkhoven