Klettwitz, 25th February 2003 +++ Paul Tracy wins first race in St. Petersburg +++ Rookies bare their teeth +++ Negotiations about German driver continue +++ Alex Zanardi's comeback likely at Eurospeedway Lausitz +++ Fan-friendly prices ...
Klettwitz, 25th February 2003
+++ Paul Tracy wins first race in St. Petersburg +++ Rookies bare their teeth +++ Negotiations about German driver continue +++ Alex Zanardi's comeback likely at Eurospeedway Lausitz +++ Fan-friendly prices encourage advance ticket sales +++ Countdown: 76 days to go till the German 500 +++
First victory for Paul Tracy - Rookies bare their teeth
The long-awaited first race of the Champ Car World Series in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA was won by seasoned driver Paul Tracy (Canada). Second and third places were also taken by experienced drivers - Michel Jourdain jr. (Mexico) and Bruno Junqueira (Brazil). But it wasn't easy for the old masters to assert themselves against the large number of hungry rookies. The young Frenchman and current Formula 3000 champion, Sebastien Bourdais, for example, managed to secure the pole position with a best time and was the undisputed leader of the field ahead of Tracy until the first pit stop. However, when leaving the box he stepped too hard on the gas with his tyres still cold and touched the boundary wall, with the result that he ended up finishing the race in eleventh place. Another novice, Mario Haberfeld (Brazil) was more successful, battling several times with Junqueira and finally coming in fourth. Other newcomers Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) and Joel Camathias (Switzerland) finished seventh and ninth, each demonstrating that they are a force to be reckoned with this season. Now the Champ Car rookies have just under a month to evaluate their initial experiences before the second race on 23rd March in Monterrey, Mexico. Thus, the exciting start to the season in a sold-out arena showed one thing above all: that this year will see a new generation emerging. Will the veterans manage to hold onto their lead? Or will the rookies take over? In the fifth race at the German 500, it will be especially exciting when for the first time in the season the drivers pull out all the stops in the two-mile Superspeedway at EuroSpeedway Lausitz. With top speeds of over 380 km/h, the rookies will be really put to the test. Motor sports legend Nigel Mansell will be sure not to miss this event, either. In St. Petersburg the 1992 Formula 1 champion and 1993 Champ Car champion was so impressed by the outstanding performances among the 20 drivers that he is seriously considering establishing his own team for 2004.
German pilot still under discussion
The negotiations about the possible signing of the German racing driver and ex-F1 Jaguar test driver André Lotterer continue. Almost every day, new information and rumours attract attention in the motor racing world and among German Champ Car fans. According to press reports, it was 95 per cent certain last week that Lotterer would be included in Jakub A. Grayewski's J.A.G. Racing Team. New rumours have it that he might take part in two races in Europe - at Brands Hatch (U.K.) and at EuroSpeedway Lausitz - as well as in three races in the USA, Mexico and Australia, in the English Arden Team. Arden is also taking part in the Formula 3000 in 2003, and plans to be the first team based in Europe to participate in a full season of the Champ Car World Series in 2004. The numerous rumours show one thing for certain: that tough negotiations are underway behind the scenes and that Lotterer is a real bonus not only from the German point of view.
Alex Zanardi's comeback
It seems all the more likely, on the other hand, that Alex Zanardi, the tragic hero of the German 500's premier year, will be returning to EuroSpeedway Lausitz. Christopher Pook, CART President, and Hans-Jörg Fischer, managing director of EuroSpeedway Lausitz, have offered Alex Zanardi the honorary title of "Grand Marshal" at the German 500. Zanardi already agreed last year to pronounce the famous phrase, "Gentlemen, start your engines". Hans-Jörg Fischer says, "Alex Zanardi, more than just about anyone, symbolises the sport of motor racing - with all its many facets. We have even greater respect for his wonderful personality and the way in which Alex Zanardi has come to terms with his fate. It would be an extraordinary honour for my team and me, for CART and all Champ Car drivers, as well as for the region of Lusatia, to be able to welcome him to the German 500 as a member of this great international family."
Live on Eurosport
Fans in Europe have good reason to celebrate as of the second race on 23rd March in Monterrey, Mexico. From then on, Eurosport will be broadcasting each race live. This is having a positive effect on advance ticket sales. Marc-Thorsten Lenze, spokesman of EuroSpeedway Lausitz, is particularly pleased at the fans' response. "Together with CART, we have chosen the right strategy. Our fan-friendly ticket prices starting at 49.00 euro have met with a very positive response from fans. In particular, we are finding that people are buying additional tickets to the ones they bought last year, which are still valid, for friends and relatives." There are three categories of tickets, all of which are valid for three days: gold (149.00 euro), silver (99.00 euro) and bronze (49.00 euro). They can be booked via the ticket hotline 01805/880288. A maximum of 5,000 paddock tickets are on sale for 50.00 euro, and these are available only in advance.