The Walker Racing crews for Darren Manning and Rodolfo Lavin have been feverishly preparing for the European leg of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. First up will be the London Champ Car Trophy (May 3 --...
The Walker Racing crews for Darren Manning and Rodolfo Lavin have been feverishly preparing for the European leg of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. First up will be the London Champ Car Trophy (May 3 -- 5) on Brands Hatch's 1.2-mile short circuit. As the only British stop on the calendar, the Brands Hatch race will be one of the biggest races of the season for the team as hometown favorite Darren Manning looks to capitalize on his current momentum in the #15 RAC Walker Racing entry. Teammate Rodolfo Lavin eagerly looks for his first championship points in his #5 Corona Competition Team car.
Rodolfo Lavin (R) , #5 Corona Competition Team Ford-Cosworth XFE-Reynard-Bridgestone
"I actually can't wait to get there and see the circuit for myself. I'm usually the one who can share information about the track layout to Darren, so this time he's had to tell me. It sounds like a fantastic, challenging track with a lot of hills and fast corners, but it's hard for me to imagine right now. We had a really good test in Portland last week and hopefully that will help us score some points in England."
Fast Facts: Will be his fourth Champ Car start and first at Brands Hatch, Best Champ Car finish to date is 15th earned at the Monterrey Grand Prix (23 March)
Darren Manning , (R), #15 Ford-Cosworth XFE-Reynard-Bridgestone
"Everyone keeps asking about the pressure of racing in my home country, but I don't think about it that way. I'm quite looking forward to it. I didn't have much preparation time last year for the Rockingham ride, so it was over before I knew it. This year, I've got a proper ride for the season with a good team who I've had several months to work with before making this start. We have a real chance of really posting a finish that will give the crowd a reason to raise their Union Jacks."
Fast Facts: Will be his fifth Champ Car start and fourth with Walker Racing, Started single-seater career at Brands Hatch running the Formula First Winter Series in 1992, Currently tenth in the drivers' championship and second in the Rookie of the Year battle, Earned career-best Champ Car finish of seventh at the Monterrey Grand Prix (23 March), Earned first top-ten qualifying spot at Long Beach (13 April) where he finished eighth, third top-ten finish in four starts
Walker Experience: Team owner Derrick Walker has a long history with the Brands Hatch circuit as well, dating back to his start in racing. The Scot lived outside London in his early 20s, frequenting the annual motorsports events held at Brands Hatch on Bank Holiday. From 1970 to 1975, Walker served as the chief mechanic for the Brabham Formula One team attending many Formula 1 Grand Prix at the venue over that time. He was also general manager of Penske Cars' manufacturing facility in Poole, England when Champ Cars made their only previous start on the Brands Hatch circuit. In addition to his manufacturing role, Walker was heavily involved in the team's logistical move to England which saw driver Rick Mears take the checkered flag.
Birthday Bash: Manning will celebrate his 28th birthday on Wednesday, 30 April just a few short days before the race. "With all the lead-up to the race with press and promotional appearances I won't have much chance to celebrate on the actual day. Hopefully, I can take the team out on Monday night to tip a few drinks over more than my birthday," quipped Manning.
Home Sweet Home: Seven members of the Walker Racing team have ties to the United Kingdom: driver Manning (North Yorkshire, England), team owner Derrick Walker (Levin, Scotland), team manager Rob Edwards (Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England), engineer (#15) Mike Wright (Bristol, England), crew chief (#15) Neil Brown (Bristol, England), crew chief (#5) Les Channen (Kent, England) and fabricator Andy Lewis (Gloucester, England).
European Tour: Mexican Rodolfo Lavin also has family ties to Europe as his maternal aunt resides in Spain. The 25-year-old will take a few extras days to visit family in Madrid as well as view the sites in a few European cities. "I haven't been to Europe since I was like ten years old, so I want to see as much as I can while I'm over here. We're going to visit Madrid, Paris and London, but I'll only have a few days in each place so we'll have to pack a lot in in a short time," Lavin said.
Broadcast Times: A preview show of the London Champ Car Trophy will air Sunday, 4 May on CBS beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. The race will be broadcast on CBS the following weekend, Saturday, 10 May at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.