RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CA (February 1, 2000) - Reigning Dayton Indy Lights champion Oriol Servia joins returning driver Cristiano da Matta for a two-car PPI Motorsports (PPIM) effort in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) 2000 FedEx ...
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CA (February 1, 2000) - Reigning Dayton Indy Lights champion Oriol Servia joins returning driver Cristiano da Matta for a two-car PPI Motorsports (PPIM) effort in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) 2000 FedEx Championship Series. Servia will represent major partner Telefonica in the #96 Telefonica Toyota-Reynard alongside da Matta in the #97 Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota-Reynard.
Servia, 25, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, joins the Champ Car ranks after two highly successful Indy Lights seasons, the latter of which saw him claim the 1999 Dayton Indy Lights Championship title. In spite of going winless in twelve races, Servia produced a string of consistently strong performances including seven consecutive top-five finishes (five of which were seconds) and a season-high three poles en route to earning series title honors. Servia placed seventh overall in the series in 1998.
Entering his rookie CART season with PPI Motorsports, Servia follows in the footsteps of 1998 Indy Lights champion and current PPIM team member Cristiano da Matta. Da Matta joined the CART series after competing against Servia en route to earning the Indy Lights title in 1998.
"After watching how well Cristiano did last season, I am looking forward to making this transition to Champ Cars," said Servia. "Representing Telefonica is also a special opportunity for me, because they are based in my native country of Spain. Champ Car racing is very popular there, and I am honored to represent Telefonica in the FedEx series at home and around the world.
"I have already tested with the team at Homestead and Sebring, and I was able to get used to the Champ car very quickly," Servia continued. "It's different from the Indy Lights car, but I was more prepared than I expected. I still have a lot to learn, but we'll be testing quite a bit before the Miami race."
"Oriol has already found a home here," said Cal Wells III, owner and president of PPI Motorsports. "His performance during our initial testing was outstanding, and he's shown a consistency and focus that complement our team perfectly. We're fortunate and very proud to have two Indy Lights champions in our fold now, and I'm personally very excited about the possibilities for our team this season."
"We are excited about working with Telefonica as they increase their motorsports reach to the CART FedEx Championship Series," said Wells of the new partnership. "Like all our partners, Telefonica has an understanding of the intrinsic value of the CART series and is committed, as are we, to maximizing their involvement in the sport. Their partnership has helped us widen the global appeal of our overall motorsports platform."
Joining Telefonica in partnership on the #96 Telefonica Toyota-Reynard is global telecommunications company and longtime PPIM partner MCI WorldCom, which has divided its former primary sponsorship of the #25 PPIM machine across the team's two Champ Cars. MCI WorldCom is now featured as an associate sponsor on both the Pioneer Electronics/MCI WorldCom Toyota-Reynard and the Telefonica Toyota-Reynard.
Servia's official debut with PPI Motorsports will be alongside da Matta in the upcoming CART Spring Training session at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Feb. 8-10. Following the two-day open test, both drivers will complete additional testing prior to the CART FedEx Championship Series opener, the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota March 24-26.
Biographical Information Full Name: Oriol Servia [OH-ree-ol SIR-vee-ah] Birthdate: July 13, 1974 Residence: Pals, Catalonia, Spain Height: 5'6" Birthplace: Pals, Catalonia, Spain Weight: 151 lbs.
A native of Spain, Servia has been winning races since before he was born. Servia's mother, Montse, served for years as navigator for Servia's father Salvadore, a two-time Spanish Rally champion. Montse was pregnant with Oriol (as she discovered later) while navigating her husband to one of his many Rally race wins, making it the first step for Oriol toward his own successful career in racing.
Servia did not jump into the driver's seat right away, however. He competed on water skis until he was 13, at which time he made the switch to karting and competed for eight years. He was selected to join the Elf Campus driver development program in Europe in 1992, where he competed in international Formula 3 events with a best showing of fourth in points on the French Formula F3 circuit. Ultimately, Servia's success at the Elf Campus made him the top graduate of the program and landed him a test in an Indy Lights machine.
After an impressive test performance, Servia was hired for a full time PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship ride with Dorricott Racing in 1998. He recorded a fourth-place finish in his series and oval-track debut at Homestead, going on to earn a total of six top-ten finishes and place seventh overall in the championship points chase. The following season with Dorricott, Servia earned a season-high three pole positions and seven consecutive top-five finishes (five of which were seconds) on his way to claiming the series championship title.
Servia is a recent graduate of the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. An avid motocross rider, Servia received his first off-road motorcycle from his father when he was just two-and-a-half years old.
Career Experience Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Elf Campus, French Formula 3, British Formula 3, Macao F3 World Championship, Renault Elf Spider Series
Championships Indy Lights Championship (1999)
Notable Placements French Formula 3 Championship (fourth, 1996) British Formula 3 Championship (fifth, 1997) Macao Formula 3 World Championship (sixth, 1997)