Red Bull Team Forsythe Aims for Vegas Jackpot LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- April 5, 2007 -- On the north end of downtown Las Vegas sits historic Fremont Street, a dazzling four-block display of overhead video screens and neon-studded casinos. But this...
Red Bull Team Forsythe Aims for Vegas Jackpot
LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- April 5, 2007 -- On the north end of downtown Las Vegas sits historic Fremont Street, a dazzling four-block display of overhead video screens and neon-studded casinos. But this weekend, the visual spectacle will move to the surrounding streets as the Atlantic Championship opens its 34th season around a winding 2.44-mile road circuit that bookends Fremont Street with two crossings. Red Bull Team Forsythe comes to Sin City like many visitors hoping for a Vegas jackpot, but outstanding preseason testing results suggest the odds are better than what might be found sitting at the long rows of one-armed bandits that make "Lost Wages" a global tourist favorite.
Armed with two of the best young drivers in the world, 17-year old Robert Wickens of Toronto, Ontario and 16-year old John Edwards of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Forsythe squad will be aiming to recapture the magic that led to three wins during the 2006 season. Las Vegas, the opening round of the 2007 season as Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, will see a huge grid of hungry young guns vying for glory knowing that the best of the best will take home an astounding $2 million dollar prize as the Series Champion and move up to the pinnacle of North American open-wheeled racing, the Champ Car World Series, in 2008.
Wickens and Edwards, both members of the global Red Bull Junior Team, have hundreds of miles of testing in the ultra-fast Swift 016.a chassis. With 300 horsepower provided by a Mazda-Cosworth MZR 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and massive grip from Cooper Atlantic racing slicks, the Forsythe drivers and crew used the extensive test program to adapt to the cars and each other with the team running consistently in the top five in almost every test session of the year.
"I'm pretty excited for the first race of my Atlantic career, but I feel a kind of calmness and confidence also. We've done our homework, both on and off the track, getting the car dialed in, getting used to working with the guys and training harder than I thought I was capable of. These cars are so physical to drive with all the downforce and grip, it's pretty hard to describe to people. But I'm fitter than I've ever been and I've established great communication with the crew and my engineer, Lou (D'Agostino). This weekend will tell us where we are and where we need to improve, but I'm confident we'll be up near the front."
"It's going to be nice to put the testing behind us and actually get to do some racing. Testing is something I really enjoy, but it just doesn't compare to the adrenaline you get when that red light goes out for a standing start! We've got to focus on good practice sessions, finding out what this track is all about and what kind of grip it's going to give us, and then try to put together a golden lap during qualifying. With this field of world-class drivers, qualifying consistently well is going to be the difference in the Championship this year. And of course staying out of trouble! That last part might be easier said than done in a series this competitive, but I've been driving in some really intense cut-throat conditions in Europe for the past two years so there's not much that can surprise me. I'm still getting to know my engineer Glenn (Knabenshue) but we seemed to have a good rapport and I think we're on top of the car, so now we just need to see if we can come to grips with this new circuit!"
John Brunner, Team Manager
"I'm pleased with the way things have gone for us at the test sessions. Last year we had a four car team, but now we've streamlined down to two cars and I'm getting a sense that maybe a smaller team will produce more focus and synergy. John and Robert are amazing young men and I'm proud to have them driving for us. I think about what most kids their age are doing and sometimes I'm kind of awestruck at how mature and focused they are. They still let their teenager side slip out every now and then; otherwise I'd forget how young they are! But we're as prepared as we can be. The Red Bull Atlantic cars are fast and bulletproof so far, and the guys have been busting their tails to get everything polished and sharpened as much as possible. We're at a new event where the veteran drivers don't know anything more about the circuit than our guys, so hopefully we'll come off the transporters quick and be right in the thick of things. Let's go racing!"