Indianapolis, Indiana - Patrick Lemarie, a Formula One test driver who has competed in racing series throughout the world during his 15-year career, was named today as the driver for PK Racing, the new Champ Car World Series team owned by Craig ...
Indianapolis, Indiana - Patrick Lemarie, a Formula One test driver who has competed in racing series throughout the world during his 15-year career, was named today as the driver for PK Racing, the new Champ Car World Series team owned by Craig Pollock and Kevin Kalkhoven.
The official test driver for F1's British American Racing team for the last four years, Lemarie, who turns 34 on February 6, has a wealth of driving experience in such international series as American and European Le Mans, Formula 3000, Formula 3 and Formula Ford and Renault. He last raced competitively in 2001, when he teamed with Stefan Johansson in the Audi R8 for five races in the American Le Mans Series, including the race in Czechoslovakia that produced Lemarie's first sports car victory.
Lemarie's racing experience in North America came when he competed in the Atlantic Championship in 1993-94 and made it to the podium in his first season with a second-place finish on the Laguna Seca road course. The winner of that race was Lemarie's close friend Jacques Villeneuve, and the two would later be teammates when the BAR team began operations, under the helm of Craig Pollock in 1998.
"Patrick is an extremely solid driver who is racing fit," said Pollock. "He is definitely well prepared for this opportunity to get back into competitive racing. He has invested a lot of time over the last four years setting up an F1 car, and in that capacity he was invaluable in providing input and giving his feedback to the engineers and mechanics.
"When you're a new team in a series, as PK Racing is in CART, you need to have a driver who is well-versed in the driving and the testing aspects because this team is being put together in an extremely short time frame. I have been in a position to observe Patrick's work for a number of years, and I know that PK Racing is getting a driver whose knowledge and experience are major assets for our team."
Lemarie, who will have his first on-track opportunity with his new team during CART's three-day spring-training session at Sebring, Florida, Feb. 4-6, said he has been interested in driving in the CART series for a number of years.
"I still have fond memories of racing in North America in the Atlantic series, and I have always closely followed what is happening in CART," said Lemarie. "For me, CART is the most complete racing series because you have all the disciplines ovals, road and street circuits. It is a big test for a driver, and I enjoy racing on all of these circuits."
Lemarie, one of several drivers making a debut in the CART series in the season-opener, February 23 in St. Petersburg, said his biggest challenge as a CART rookie will be adapting to the new racing environment as quickly as he possibly can.
"I'm very pleased that Craig and PK Racing have given me this opportunity," he remarked. "I have known Craig, on and off the track, for a number of years, all the way back to my days in Atlantic, and then as the BAR test driver. I am confident that, under his leadership, PK Racing will, over time, become a competitive force in the CART series. I may not have raced that much competitively in the last few years, but you never lose the competitive spirit, and I know that I have plenty of that."
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