TEAMS SUPPORT FUTURE DIRECTION OF ATLANTIC SERIES WITH NEARLY 30 CARS ALREADY ORDERED FOR 2006 CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP INDIANAPOLIS (August 9, 2005) -- Just a little over a week after the series unveiled the details and new car design...
TEAMS SUPPORT FUTURE DIRECTION OF ATLANTIC SERIES WITH NEARLY 30 CARS ALREADY ORDERED FOR 2006 CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP
INDIANAPOLIS (August 9, 2005) -- Just a little over a week after the series unveiled the details and new car design for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship, nearly 30 cars have already been ordered by new and returning Atlantic teams for next season.
Champ Car and Atlantic officials announced on July 30 that North America's top open-wheel development series would usher in the next generation of Atlantic car in '06, featuring a new 016.a Swift chassis design powered by a 2.3 liter, 300-horsepower Cosworth engine capable of producing speeds up to 175 mph. With new three-year agreements in place with Swift, Cosworth and Pi Research, which will provide all of the electronics, wiring and sensors on the new car, the future is on solid ground in the Atlantic series, entering its 33rd season of competition next year.
From the outset of the announcement, prospective Atlantic teams let it be known just how excited they were to be involved in the future of the Atlantic series, with several teams immediately committing to multi-car programs for 2006. Now, just 10 days after the plans for next season were unveiled at the Grand Prix of San Jose Champ Car event, 27 Atlantic cars have been purchased for '06 with that number expected to top 30 machines by the end of this week.
"We're both delighted and overwhelmed by the response from teams for next season's Champ Car Atlantic Championship," said Vicki O'Connor, Managing Director of the Atlantic series. "We started taking orders immediately for new cars following the announcement and the calls literally have not stopped. We're very excited about the teams that will be returning to Atlantics next season and we welcome the new teams that will be joining us in 2006. With the competitors that we'll have in place next season, we're going to have tremendous racing in Atlantics for 2006 and beyond."
In addition to several teams that are currently competing in Atlantics this season, at least two current teams in the Champ Car World Series will also field Atlantic programs in 2006. Team Australia, headed by longtime Champ Car team owner Derrick Walker and Australian businessman Craig Gore, announced their intention to run a two-car Atlantic team recently. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing will also field a two-car effort in Champ Car's top support series next season.
""We have put a deposit down on two Atlantic cars and are looking forward to the opportunity to join the Atlantic series in 2006," said Eric Bachelart, co-owner of the Mi-Jack Conquest team. "With a spec engine and chassis rules package, the competition should be very close and competing in the series will help us create a ladder within the team for drivers, mechanics, and engineers to get experience and prove themselves before they move up, as we continue to develop and grow our Champ Car operation."
After competing as one of the top Atlantic teams from 2002-2004, Sierra Sierra Enterprises will return to the series next season after a year away from the sport in 2005. The team that finished as series runner-up in both 2003 and 2004 with driver Ryan Dalziel, and last season helped mold one of Champ Car's top current rookies Andrew Ranger, will be back in earnest with four cars in its 2006 Atlantic stable.
Also expected to return to Atlantics in 2006 is Rahal-Letterman Racing, owned by former Atlantic competitor and three-time Champ Car series champion Bobby Rahal and late-night talk show host David Letterman. After competing in Atlantics from 2003-04, the team has ordered one car for next season, with the intention of racing Rahal's 16-year-old son Graham in the championship. "We have placed a deposit on a new car in anticipation of entering the series with Graham," said Rahal. "However, that participation is dependent on raising the necessary sponsorship."
Following a strong series debut two weeks ago in San Jose with young California rookie Alan Scuito finishing fourth, PR1 Motorsports is committed to the Atlantic series with three cars for next season. Gelles Racing, currently competing in the Formula BMW USA series, is planning a multi-car Atlantic effort in 2006.
Many of the current Atlantic teams have also made commitments for next season. Veteran squads Polestar Racing Group and Brooks Associates Racing intend to field two-car teams next year along with Jensen MotorSport and Condor Motorsports, which currently leads the Atlantic series with Dutch driving sensation Charles Zwolsman.
"We've ordered two cars and it's our intention to run a two-car team next season," said Carlos Bobeda, owner of Condor Motorsports, which has three victories this season with the rookie Zwolsman behind the wheel. "We want to capitalize on the success we've had this season and keep it going in 2006."
Bobeda feels that the recently-announced $2 million bonus for the '06 Atlantic champion to use in securing a Champ Car ride for the 2007 season will be key in attracting some of the top young open-wheel talent from around the world to the Atlantic paddock next season.
"The incentive that Champ Car is offering is the best deal any young, up-and-coming driver could ask for to try and move up to the top level of motorsports," said Bobeda. "We've already been talking with some interested drivers about next season."
Bachelart agrees that the Champ Car incentive program will help serve as a motivating force for young drivers. "Conquest Racing competed for five years in the Dayton Indy Lights Series, so we have a good background of racing in the developmental categories. We are very pleased about the year-end incentive that the series is offering for the champion, and I know that it will attract a lot of drivers and teams to Atlantic competition."
First-year Atlantic teams currently racing in the series, US RaceTronics and Dan Cobb Racing, have also made plans to run two-car teams next year. The Room Store team will compete with one car next year and more announcements on new, former and current teams entering the Atlantic series are also expected in the coming weeks.
The Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. 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. Current Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger.