Reigning Honda Indy 300 champion Adrian Fernandez is far from predicting a repeat of his 2000 Gold Coast success when he lines up in the opening round of the FedEx Championship Series in Monterrey Mexico this weekend. Fernandez, who finished ...
Reigning Honda Indy 300 champion Adrian Fernandez is far from predicting a repeat of his 2000 Gold Coast success when he lines up in the opening round of the FedEx Championship Series in Monterrey Mexico this weekend.
Fernandez, who finished second in last year's championship, has been mobbed by sponsors and fans in his home country this week while he has tried to put the finishing touches on his new team in time for the Tecate Temex Monterrey Grand Prix, presented by Herdez.
"There have certainly been many changes since my win on the Gold Coast last year," said Fernandez, who won the Surfers Paradise race from an amazing 17th place on the grid.
"We have managed to get out team together and I have been happy with our progress, although we still have a long way to go.
"It would certainly be fantastic to win the first race back in Mexico in front of my home crowd, but I think it would be a huge task considering our team will be making its debut.
"We have had a massive week in Mexico with fan and sponsor commitments and I think everyone would leave happy if we could go away from the first round with some championship points in the bag.
"There are so many teams with new drivers and equipment and it will be interesting to see where everyone finishes at the end of the day."
There are many teams who have different driver and engine combinations for this season and it is always difficult to tell from pre-season testing who had the right package.There is little doubt that reigning series champions Marlboro Team Penske will again be the benchmark in many areas and will start as title favourite. Team Penske retains its winning Reynard-Honda package and continues to have series champion Gil de Ferran and fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves as its drivers.
Michael Andretti will make his debut for Team Motorola, which is being prepared under the roof of Team KOOL Green in Indianapolis.The new Reynard-Honda team has quietly gone about its business and could be one of the real contenders for this year's title. Andretti will be having his first Champ Car start in anything but a Ford-powered car this weekend.
Patrick Racing will campaign Toyota engines for the first time this weekend for regular driver Roberto Moreno and newcomer Jimmy Vasser.A win this weekend would be an extra bonus for team owner U.E "Pat" Patrick who is also the owner/promoter of the Monterrey race.
PacWest Racing will also run Toyota engines for the first time for veteran Mauricio Gugelmin and young Kiwi star Scott Dixon.Winless since 1997, PacWest should enjoy the reliability and speed of the Toyota after struggling with the Mercedes-Benz-badged Ilmor engines for the past three years.
Newman-Haas Racing will also debut with Toyota power with its two cars being driven by Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta.
* The first round of the FedEx Championship Series can be seen on Network Ten from 11.30pm on Monday night.
LATEST NEWS AND RUMOURS
CART NAMES VETERAN RACER CHRIS KNEIFEL CHIEF STEWARD
Championship Auto Racing Teams announced that veteran race car driver Chris Kneifel has been named Chief Steward of CART's FedEx Championship Series. CART President of Racing Operations Hal Whiteford announced that Kneifel will assume his duties immediately and will oversee the action when CART opens its 21-race, 2001 season on Sunday in Monterrey, Mexico. Kneifel, 39, is an accomplished racer who was in victory circle just last month after winning the 24 Hours of Daytona as a member of the Chevrolet factory-backed Corvette team. Kneifel raced competitively in the CART FedEx
Championship Series from 1982-84, starting 19 races over those three years and finishing tied for 17th in the final series points standings in 1983. His career-best finish was an eighth on three occasions.
"Chris Kneifel has the attributes we were seeking in a chief steward," said Whiteford. "He has racing experience on the top levels of the sport. He thinks about racing from a driver's perspective. He has demonstrated that he has a solid understanding of what it takes to properly conduct a race. He also has experience in a variety of business situations that will help him as he manages the many issues that arise during a race. We are extremely pleased Chris is joining us."
STEVE NEWEY LEAVES MO NUNN RACING
Mo Nunn Racing announced last week that Steve Newey has left his position as general manager.
Newey, who was retained by the team in late 1999 to assemble a new racing organization to contest the CART FedEx Championship Series beginning with the 2000 season, will pursue other interests. "I have enjoyed the experience of working with Morris (Nunn) and starting a new race team, and then expanding the team to a two-car operation for the 2001 season," said Newey. "Mo Nunn Racing has an excellent operation in place, and I am sure the team will be very successful in 2001. However, the time has come for me to pursue new opportunities in the racing business."
Nunn's second-year team opens the 2001 CART campaign at Monterrey, Mexico, next week with returning driver Tony Kanaan in the #55 Hollywood-sponsored Honda-Reynard, and welcomes back to the series two-time champion Alex Zanardi in the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom sponsored Honda-Reynard. Nunn extended to Newey his warmest regards upon his departure.
"We've come a long way in a little more than a year's time, and Steve certainly played a vital role in growing our operation," said Nunn. "We enter the 2001 season on solid footing, and it was Steve's veteran leadership that helped get us there. We wish him nothing but the best as he moves forward."
COYNE AND PROJECT INDY JOIN FORCES
Dale Coyne Racing has formed an alliance with Team P.R.G. owners Andreas Leberle and Christian Danner to enter two Ford/Cosworth -powered Lolas for the 2001 FedEx CART Championship Series.
"If you look at what Team P.R.G. has to bring to the table and combine it with what our team has in place, it makes sense," said Dale Coyne. "Team P.R.G. has worked diligently over the off-season to procure new sponsors, while Dale Coyne Racing has the infrastructure and personnel to run a competitive two-car effort, as demonstrated by our strong end-of-season showing in 2000. Given the extreme competitiveness of Champ Car racing these days, we will be stronger together than apart. We all felt that this is the best possible scenario to run a competitive program in 2001." The two cars will be run under the Dale Coyne Racing entries at its Plainfield, Illinois, shop. Returning Team P.R.G. driver Luiz Garcia Jr, from Brazil, will drive the No. 21 car with sponsorship from Embratel, a division of MCI WorldCom, and fresh support from Infineon semiconductors and Dark Dog energy drink.
Michael Krumm, from Reutlinger, Germany, will drive the No. 19 car in the opening race at Monterrey, Mexico, with support from Dark Dog, and Infineon.
CART COMMENCES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ISL MARKETING AG TO COLLECT PAST DUE AMOUNTS AND TO SECURE GUARANTEES
Championship Auto Racing Teams has announced that it has filed a complaint against ISL Marketing AG in Oakland Michigan County Circuit Court seeking compensatory and consequential damages in excess of $100 million. ISL has served as CART's exclusive worldwide marketing agent since the execution of the contract in 1998, seeking sponsorship for the open-wheel sanctioning organization. The agreement obligates ISL to guarantee a pre-determined amount of income to CART.
In the suit, CART alleges fraudulent inducement; breach of the agreement; and failure by ISL to pay more than $6 million due to CART with respect to its 2000 guarantee. The company indicated that discussions to resolve the matter had been ongoing but have reached an impasse. CART has concluded that it has no choice but to pursue legal action against ISL.
2001 FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES TEAMS
Team Drivers Chassis-Engine Sponsor Arciero Brook Racing Max Wilson (25) Lola-Phoenix Redback Dale Coyne Racing Luiz Garcia (21) Lola-Ford Embratel, Michael Krumm (19) Lola-Ford Dark Dog Fernandez Racing Adrian Fernandez (51) Reynard-Honda Tecate Shinji Nakano (52) Reynard-Honda Avex/Alpine Herdez Bettenhausen Michel Jourdain Jr (16) Lola-Ford Herdez Marlboro Team Penske Gil de Ferran (1) Reynard-Honda Marlboro Helio Castroneves (3) Reynard-Honda Marlboro Mo Nunn Racing Alex Zanardi (66) Reynard-Honda Pioneer Tony Kanaan (55) Reynard-Honda Hollywood Newman-Haas Racing Christian Fittipaldi (11) Lola-Toyota Kmart Cristiano da Matta (6) Lola-Toyota Havoline PacWest Racing Mauricio Gugelmin (17) Reynard-Toyota Nextel Scott Dixon (18) Reynard-Toyota PacWest Patrick Racing Jimmy Vasser (20) Reynard-Toyota Patrick Racing Roberto Moreno (40) Reynard-Toyota Visteon Player's-Forsythe Racing Patrick Carpentier (32) Reynard-Ford Players Alex Tagliani (33) Reynard-Ford Players Sigma Autosport Oriol Servia (22) Lola-Ford TBA Target-Chip Ganassi Racing Bruno Junqueira (4) Lola-Toyota Target Nicolas Minassian Lola-Toyota Target Team KOOL Green Paul Tracy (26) Reynard-Honda KOOL Dario Franhitti (27) Reynard-Honda KOOL Team Motorola Michael Andretti (39) Reynard-Honda Motorola Team PRG Michael Krumm (19) Reynard-Phoenix Dark Dog Luiz Garcia (21) Reynard-Phoenix Embratel Team Rahal Max Papis (7) Lola-Ford Miller Lite Kenny Brack (8) Lola-Ford Shell Walker Racing Tora Takagi (5) Reynard-Toyota Pioneer Zakspeed Bryan Herta (77) Reynard-Ford TBA Marcel Tiemann Reynard Ford TBA
2001 FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES - DRIVERS CHART
no Driver Team Country Born Year 1 Gil de Ferran Marlboro Team Penske Brazil 11.11.67 5 3 Helio Castroneves Marlboro Team Penske Brazil 10.5.75 2 4 Bruno Junqueira Target Chip Ganassi Brazil 4.11.76 1st 5 Tora Takagi Walker Racing Japan 12.2.74 1st 6 Cristiano da Matta Newman-Haas Brazil 19.9.73 1 7 Max Papis Team Rahal Italy 3.10.69 4 8 Kenny Brack Team Rahal Sweden 21.3.66 1 11 Christian Fittipaldi Newman-Haas Brazil 18.1.71 5 12 Nicolas Minassian Target Chip Ganassi France 28.2.73 1st 16 Michel Jourdain Jr Herdez Bettenhausen Mexico 2.9.76 4 17 Mauricio Gugelmin PacWest Racing Brazil 20.4.63 8 18 Scott Dixon PacWest Racing New Zealand 22.7.80 1st 19 Michael Krumm Dale Coyne Racing Germany 19.3.70 1st 20 Jimmy Vasser Patrick Racing USA 20.11.65 8 21 Luiz Garcia Dale Coyne Racing Brazil 4.5.71 1 22 Oriol Servia Sigma Spain 13.8.74 1 25 Max Wilson Areiro Brook Racing Brazil 22.8.72 1st 26 Paul Tracy Team Kool Green Canada 17.12.68 9 27 Dario Franchitti Team KOOLGreen Scotland 19.5.73 3 32 Patrick Carpentier Players-Forsythe Canada 13.8.71 3 33 Alex Tagliani Players-Forsythe Canada 18.10.72 1 39 Michael Andretti Team Motorola USA 5.10.62 17 40 Roberto Moreno Patrick Racing Brazil 11.2.59 6 51 Adrian Fernandez Team Fernandez Mexico 20.4.65 8 52 Shinji Nakano Team Fernandez Japan 4.4.71 1 55 Tony Kanaan Mo Nunn Racing Brazil 31.12.74 2 66 Alex Zanardi Mo Nunn Racing Italy 23.10.66 3 77 Bryan Herta Zakspeed USA 23.5.70 6 Marcel Tiemann Zakspeed Germany 13.3.74 1st
- Tracey Jones