October 8, 1998 TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING SIGNS JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AS ZANARDI SUCCESSOR WILLIAMS TEST DRIVER AND 1998 EUROPEAN F3000 CHAMPION INKS THREE-YEAR DEAL (Indianapolis) - Chip Ganassi, owner of the Target/Chip Ganassi...
October 8, 1998
TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING SIGNS JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AS ZANARDI SUCCESSOR
WILLIAMS TEST DRIVER AND 1998 EUROPEAN F3000 CHAMPION INKS THREE-YEAR DEAL
(Indianapolis) - Chip Ganassi, owner of the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team, announced today that he has signed Juan Pablo Montoya to drive for the three-time PPG Cup champions beginning in the 1999 season. Financial terms of the three-year contract were not disclosed. Montoya, 23, succeeds two-time PPG Cup champion Alex Zanardi, who signed a three-year deal with Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited of Formula One last month.
Montoya recently clinched the 1998 FIA Formula 3000 Championship for his Super Nova Racing team. He registered seven pole positions and four victories in the 12-race series en route to the title. Montoya has also served as the official test driver for the Formula One Winfield Williams team during the 1998 season.
Montoya will be attending the Formula One test at Magny-Cours, France, Oct.. 12-14, and will arrive in the U.S. the following week. He is scheduled to test with the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team on both the road course and the oval circuit at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla., Oct. 22-26 and will be with the team at the CART season finale at Fontana, Calif., Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
"I'm very pleased that Juan Pablo will be joining our team next season," Ganassi said. "I watched him test alongside Alex two weeks ago in Barcelona and was very impressed. He comes highly recommended from the people at Williams who've been working with him for the last year. He has a lot of confidence and possesses the tools and skills to be a successful driver for us."
"I'm really excited to be joining the Target/Chip Ganassi team," said Montoya, a native of Bogota, Columbia. "This is a great opportunity for me, to be joining a team that has had so much success and is the top team in the CART series. Mr. Ganassi is an outstanding owner, Jimmy Vasser is a champion and will be an excellent teammate, the whole team is very experienced, the technical package is tremendous, the series is super challenging and competitive, so it's a tremendous situation. Alex had nothing but good things to say about the team and his experiences here, so I'm looking forward to getting started."
"We are delighted that Juan Pablo's career is taking this enormous step forward," said Williams team principal Frank Williams. "He has a lot of talent and we are confident that Chip Ganassi and his team will offer Juan Pablo the right environment to develop his skills even further.
"Juan Pablo's move to the highly rated American Champ Car series illustrates well the value of success in the European Formula 3000 Championship. We wish him good luck for the future." Montoya began his racing career in go-karting at age 5 and participated in the World Karting Junior Cups in 1990 and 1991. He attended the Skip Barber School in the United States in 1992 and competed in the National Championship Tournament Swift GTI in 1993, tallying seven poles and seven victories.
In 1994, he won his class in the Sudam 125 Karting Championship, placed third in the Barber Saab (now Dodge) Pro Series in the U.S. and competed in the Formula N class in Mexico. He placed third in the British Formula Vauxhall Championship in 1995, finishing with four wins, four pole positions and two track records. In 1996, he raced in the British F3 Championship, where he notched three victories, one pole position and five fastest laps. In 1997, in his first year in the FIA F3000 series, he won three races en route to a runner-up finish in the series.