AFTER IMPRESSIVE RETURN AT CLEVELAND, STANDING STARTS TO BE FEATURED IN THE MAJORITY OF REMAINING 2006 ATLANTIC RACES INDIANAPOLIS (July 4, 2006) -- While many fans, team owners and race officials held their collective breath during the ...
AFTER IMPRESSIVE RETURN AT CLEVELAND, STANDING STARTS TO BE FEATURED IN THE MAJORITY OF REMAINING 2006 ATLANTIC RACES
INDIANAPOLIS (July 4, 2006) -- While many fans, team owners and race officials held their collective breath during the re-introduction of standing starts recently in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, the competitors themselves showed that all the hype and trepidation was really unwarranted. A "new" starting format proved to be no big deal for the future stars of open-wheel racing.
After two textbook standing starts were executed perfectly by the 24-car Champ Car Atlantic field June 24-25 at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport road circuit, series officials have announced that standing starts will become the norm in the majority of the six remaining races on the 2006 series schedule. The Atlantics will launch from a stationary position on the starting grid this weekend at the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, July 7-9 at Exhibition Place, and plans call for the series to use standing starts at all remaining venues this season wherever possible, depending on the configuration of the circuit as determined by Atlantic officials.
"We were very impressed with the way all of the Atlantic teams and drivers handled both standing starts in Cleveland," said Tony Cotman, Champ Car Vice President of Operations. "It was a different format for a lot of the competitors, but everyone did a great job and it certainly added to the excitement for the fans. Now that the formula has proven successful, the Atlantic Championship plans to continue incorporating standing starts at all venues where it makes sense moving forward."
At the beginning of the '06 season, Champ Car Atlantic officials announced that the series was going to re-introduce standing starts to series competition. Standing starts were a longtime staple of Atlantic racing from the series' inception in 1974 through the 1998 season. Atlantics switched to rolling starts to begin races exclusively in 1999. With a brand new Atlantic race car, featuring the Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth engine while riding on Yokohama tires, and a host of new series competitors from all over the world, the 2006 season offered a unique opportunity for the series to return to its roots and bring back the Formula One-style standing starts.
After getting an opportunity to practice standing starts at a series open test session in May at the MSR Houston road circuit, the Atlantic field did a tremendous job in the first stationary start in nearly eight years on Saturday, June 24 at Round 5 in Cleveland. With a very clean launch from the starting grid that led to a smooth tour of the field through the potentially treacherous Turn 1 at Burke Lakefront Airport, race officials were more than happy with the results. Atlantic competitors performed another flawless standing start the following day in Round 6 of the championship as 17-year-old rookie sensation Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing took advantage of a great start and swept the lone doubleheader weekend on the '06 calendar by winning both races on the shores of Lake Erie.
The Atlantic Championship returns to action this weekend at the first of three Canadian venues on the series schedule -- the annual Molson Grand Prix of Toronto. Practice and qualifying at the 1.755-mile street course begins Friday with final-round qualifying on tap for Saturday and Round 7 racing on Sunday.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. In its 33rd season in 2006, 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. 2006 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger, Katherine Legge, Tonis Kasemets and 2005 Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman are established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. Competing in newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, 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 series and to view this season's races on demand, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.