CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta signs with PKV Racing

PKV Racing Taps 2002 Series Champion Cristiano Da Matta To Pilot Second Entry INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - FEBRUARY 1, 2005 - - PKV Racing announced today that 2002 Series Champion Cristiano da Matta will pilot a second entry for the team during the...

PKV Racing Taps 2002 Series Champion Cristiano Da Matta To Pilot Second Entry

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - FEBRUARY 1, 2005 - - PKV Racing announced today that 2002 Series Champion Cristiano da Matta will pilot a second entry for the team during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Da Matta joins PKV Racing driver, and 1996 Series Champion, Jimmy Vasser to form one of the most potent driver line-ups in series history. The duo, along with the recent addition of General Manager Jim McGee, makes PKV Racing one of the heavy favorites to capture the 2005 Vanderbilt Cup, which is awarded to the Champ Car World Series Champion.

"The addition of Cristiano to PKV Racing's driver line-up gives us the strongest team we have had in our three year existence and one of the most exciting in Champ Car history," said team co-owner Dan Pettit. "Cristiano is, obviously, a tremendous driving talent, a past champion, and a driver who knows how to win races. Adding his experience and expertise to that of Jimmy Vasser and Jim McGee gives us formidable leadership on the track, in the pits and in the garage as we pursue our goal of capturing the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series title."

Commenting about da Matta joining PKV Racing, Vasser said, "I can say from past experience that the formula for a championship team always includes two teammates that are competitive, but most importantly, can work together. I have known Cristiano for several years and I respect him as a driver and a person. I am confident that we will be able to work together to get the most out of the PKV Racing cars on race weekends. I can also tell you that once the green flag drops there will be no team orders. We will both race to win."

Da Matta, 31, joined the Champ Car ranks in 1999 after capturing the 1998 Dayton Indy Lights Championship. He drove one season each for Arciero-Wells Racing and PPI Motorsports respectively before being tapped to replace the departing Michael Andretti at Newman/Haas Racing. In just his fourth season, and second with the team, da Matta had a dominating year. He held the top spot in the standings after 17 of the year's 19 races taking the lead for good after winning the fifth race of the season at Laguna Seca. The win in at Laguna started a record-tying streak of four consecutive wins for the native of Brazil. By season's end da Matta had not only captured the series title, but increased his career victories to 11 and vaulted himself into the top-10 in a number of series categories including most wins in a season (7 -- tied for second), most consecutive wins (4 -- tied for first), most poles in a season (7 -- tied for sixth) and most podium finishes in a season (11- tied for second). He also won the National Driver of the Year Award. The following season da Matta moved to Formula One where he piloted one of the Toyota entries in 2003 and 2004. He scored his first championship points in just his fifth start in F1 placing a season high tying sixth in Spain and led a race in just his 11 event (British Grand Prix). In two seasons in Formula One, Da Matta notched a total of 11 top-10 finishes in 28 races with best showings of sixth in Spain (2003 and 2004) and Germany (2003).

"Coming back to the Champ Car World Series was an easy decision for me," da Matta said. "From a racing standpoint it is the most competitive series in the world and one that puts a premium on the driver's ability," he noted. "The decision to join PKV Racing was not a difficult one. I really only talked to three teams and in the end the best opportunity for me was at PKV Racing." da Matta explained.

Commenting on the team's chances during the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, da Matta said, "I watched how PKV Racing progressed last year. The team definitely made improvement from the first half of the season to the second half. I am looking forward to racing with Jimmy Vasser and with the addition of Jim McGee and his staff I am confident we will compete at the highest level."

Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing will field a two-car effort during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. The third-year team is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven, who also co-owns the Champ Car World Series, and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser, who drives the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry. The second car, the #21 PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, is piloted by 2002 Series Champion Cristiano da Matta. PKV Racing is managed by the most successful Manager/Chief Mechanic in USAC/CART/Champ Car history, Jim McGee, who has amassed 89 victories and nine national championships.

-pkvr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Kevin Kalkhoven , Cristiano da Matta