Young upcoming racers Thunderhill test notes

FORSYTHE RACING ATLANTIC TEAM TESTS STAR MAZDA CHAMP ADRIAN CARRIO ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER TOP YOUNG RACERS WILLOWS, California (November 30, 2006) -- The dream of competing in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic ...


WILLOWS, California (November 30, 2006) -- The dream of competing in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda burned brightly for several talented young racers this week.

Thunderhill Raceway Park hosted a two-day test session for the Forsythe Championship Racing Atlantic team Wednesday and Thursday and a number of open-wheel racing's future stars got the opportunity to show their skills with one of Atlantics' top teams at the road circuit located about 60 miles north of Sacramento.

Among the five drivers that tackled the six-turn, 1.695-mile configuration at Thunderhill was 2006 Star Mazda series champion Adrian "Ace" Carrio. The 17-year-old native of Monument, Colorado earned the test with the Forsythe squad after scoring a pair of wins and six poles en route to this season's Star Mazda title. Carrio became the first Star champion to be awarded an Atlantic test after the two series announced an official developmental partnership, in cooperation with Mazda North America, last summer. The up-and-coming driver who hopes to one day compete in the Champ Car World Series made the most of the opportunity by showing steady improvement in the #37 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper Forsythe car while completing nearly 300 miles under sunny skies and cool temperatures on Thursday.

"The Atlantic car is a great car to drive and I really want to thank Mazda, Champ Car Atlantic, Forsythe Racing and the Star Mazda series for the chance to show what I can do," said Carrio. "The car fits my driving style perfectly. It has great balance and we were able to make some changes and I felt I developed some good chemistry with the team. I basically made my decision about a week after the Star Mazda season ended that my goal is to race Atlantics next season and this test only helps support my decision."

The Forsythe team, which experienced the Mazda development system firsthand after competing with Star Mazda graduate James Hinchcliffe in 2006, was impressed with Carrio's performance, but not surprised. "Ace did a good job in Star Mazda and we expected that he'd make a smooth transition to the Atlantic car," said Forsythe Racing Team Manager John Brunner. "He did a great job. He got up to speed quickly and he's right there timewise with the other drivers we've tested this off-season. He's definitely ready for the next step into Atlantics."

Carrio was joined on the Northern California track Thursday by two drivers who were enjoying their second consecutive days testing with the Forsythe team. Italy's Giacomo Ricci, the 2006 F3000 Italian Euro champion, completed more miles than any of the drivers that tested at Thunderhill for the squad. Ricci logged 572 miles over the two-day test and left no doubt where he hopes to be racing in 2007.

"I liked working with the Forsythe team and everything went well over the two days," said the protege of fellow Italian and former Champ Car star Max Papis. "For me the Atlantic car was good, like driving the F3000 car, but not quite as much power. But I liked it and I want to be driving in the Atlantic Championship next season."

Formula BMW USA 2006 champion and Red Bull driver Robert Wickens also excelled in testing on Thursday. The 17-year-old native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada ran nearly 300 miles over two days and completed his third full day of testing overall this off-season with the Forsythe team.

"We tried a lot of different things over the two days and I'm really starting to get used to the downforce on the car," said Wickens. "The team did an amazing job getting the car the way I liked it and all in all it was a pretty good test."

John Edwards, another member of the Red Bull driver development program along with Wickens, also tested for the squad as he totaled 166 miles on Wednesday. The 15-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas has spent the last two seasons racing in Europe, most recently in the highly-competitive Formula Renault series. He's looking forward to continuing his rapid development in 2007 in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.

"Overall the test went very well, especially considering the cold and windy conditions we faced on Wednesday," said Edwards. "The Forsythe team has been great to work with and I was happy with the Atlantic car and the way the new Cooper tires responded."

Both Edwards and Wickens tested in October with the Forsythe team at Moroso Motorsports Park in Florida along with another Star Mazda standout racer, Ryan Justice of Portland, Oregon.

Ireland's Patrick Hogan, who's distinguished himself most recently in World Series by Renault and British Formula Renault competition, also tested for the Forsythe team on Wednesday logging 188 miles at Thunderhill.

Brunner said the team came away from the test impressed with all of the drivers, secure in the knowledge that there's plenty of interest in the Atlantic Championship and a deep talent pool for teams to choose from for 2007.

"Not only do we feel really good about the Forsythe Racing program for next season, but the Atlantic series overall is going to be very competitive once again," said Brunner, who added that all five drivers were within three-tenths-of-a-second of each other's top lap times each day at Thunderhill. "Our team obviously can't run all of these guys, but there are some Atlantic teams that are going to have some really good, fast kids next season and that's going to be great for the series."

-credit: ccws/atl

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Max Papis , Ryan Justice , Patrick Hogan , Robert Wickens , James Hinchcliffe , Giacomo Ricci , John Edwards