LAUSITZ, Germany (March 29, 2001) --- Newman/Haas Racing CART driver Christian Fittipaldi began his travels across the ocean yesterday for his first look at the new two-mile oval at EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany for a press conference today....
LAUSITZ, Germany (March 29, 2001) --- Newman/Haas Racing CART driver Christian Fittipaldi began his travels across the ocean yesterday for his first look at the new two-mile oval at EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany for a press conference today. The German 500 is one of the three new international venues CART added to its schedule for the 2001 season.
In 2001, the CART FedEx championship Series will race in seven countries for a total of 21 events. New for 2001 are races in Monterrey, Mexico which Fittipaldi's new teammate Cristiano da Matta already won, as well as oval events in Texas, Germany and England.
When Fittipaldi gets behind the wheel of his Kmart Toyota-Lola on September 15 for the German 500, it will be the first time for him to compete in the country since he finished fourth in Hockenheim in 1994 while competing in the Formula One series. All three times he has competed in Germany, he has posted top-eight performances including a fourth (1994) and eighth place (1993) while competing in Formula One as well as a fourth place finish while competing in the 1991 Formula 3000 series where he won the Championship.
"It is really important to add a race in Germany for the FedEx Championship series," said Fittipaldi. "Going to races in international countries can bring the series a bigger audience and more fans. I think the German fans will be excited about our form of racing when they see it in person. It is so hard to get the excitement of CART racing across on TV especially to people who have typically grown up with racing on a road course and have never seen an oval race."
Although Fittipaldi has spent most of his racing career on road and street courses, he has been competitive on oval tracks like the two-mile one in Germany. Two races ago Fittipaldi won the 2000 season-ending Marlboro 500 in Fontana, Calif. and bettered his previous best 500-mile finish of second place in the 1995 Indy 500 when he finished second to Jacques Villeneuve. Fittipaldi also won his first CART pole on an oval when he set the fastest lap in his homeland of Brazil in 1999.
None of the CART drivers will be able to test at the track prior to the event due a new in-season testing ban so Fittipaldi is happy to be able to at least view the facility as well as get in a little seat time during media rides around the track today. Fittipaldi is confident that the Newman/Haas Racing engineers will come up with a good baseline setup for the new oval.
"Newman/Haas has traditionally had a very good setup for the oval tracks and they will simulate many different setup possibilities for the cars in virtual simulation before we come to race here," said Fittipaldi. "Our Lola chassis has been good on the oval tracks and our new relationship with Toyota has shown me that it is good on the ovals as well. I am looking forward to the race in Germany as well as England. I think we will put on a good show and make some new fans for CART."
Round 2 of the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series will take place on April 8 with the running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Fittipaldi and Texaco/Havoline/Kmart driver Cristiano da Matta will be attempting to bring Newman/Haas Racing their third CART victory in a row. Fittipaldi won the Marlboro 500 on October 30, 2000 while da Matta won the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix on March 11, 2001.