ROCKETSPORTS RACING TO RUN ANTONIO PIZZONIA IN LONG BEACH FOR CHAMP CAR SEASON OPENER ANTONIO PIZZONIA EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 29, 2006) - After a long off-season with all efforts predominately on securing a solid sponsorship package and ...
ROCKETSPORTS RACING TO RUN ANTONIO PIZZONIA IN LONG BEACH FOR CHAMP CAR SEASON OPENER
ANTONIO PIZZONIA EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 29, 2006) - After a long off-season with all efforts predominately on securing a solid sponsorship package and competitive driver line-up, Rocketsports Racing is proud to announce that Antonio Pizzonia has been signed to drive the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car in Long Beach with sponsorship announcements to be forthcoming.
The overall performance of Rocketsports Racing throughout the 2005 season led to Timo Glock's consistency and running for Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Rocketsports has chosen to run another rookie, but rookie is no way to describe this young, vibrant Brazilian. Pizzonia is a well-experienced open-wheel racer. He has a solid racing pedigree that has brought him to the ranks of Formula 1. The 25-year-old joins Rocketsports with great anticipation to extend his racing resume by entering the Champ Car World Series in search for a new challenge in his extensive career.
Pizzonia will rendezvous with the team in Houston on Saturday, April 1 for some more time in his Lola in preparation to make his first Champ Car start in Long Beach, California for the Champ Car season opener, April 7-9.
"I am very happy about the opportunity that Rocketsports has given to me,” said Pizzonia on his upcoming test and making his debut in Champ Car. "The test this weekend will be very important for me and the team as we prepare f or the first race. I obviously need to get more familiar with the car, as it was my first time in the cockpit of a Champ Car when I tested with the team in Houston a couple of weeks ago. So the extra time will be good for me to learn more and really prepare for Long Beach. I am really looking forward to Long Beach; it will be a new experience for me, a new ride, and a new challenge. That is what I was looking for and I am thrilled to be with the Rocketsports team. I really enjoyed working with them in Houston when I tested with them, so I am looking forward to working with them again.”
Pizzonia started racing karts when he was 10 and after winning the local championships he began to commute to Sao Paulo on the weekends to race in more competitive Sao Paulo championships. By the time he was 15, he had won the Brazilian national title. This led to the decision to go to the United States to compete in the Barber Dodge series and then in 1997 he moved to Britain to race in Formula Vauxhall Junior. He was the champion in 1998 and moved up to Formula Renault and won the title in 1999. This led to a test with the Williams F1 team. He raced in Formula 3 the following year, winning the title during his rookie season and earning another F1 test with the Benetton team. In 2001 he signed a long-term deal with Williams becoming a member of the Petrobras Junior Team in Formula 3000 and in 2002 his responsibility with the team expanded making him also a test driver in the Williams F1 machines. In 2003 he ran part of the F1 season, under a new squad, Jaguar, before returning to Williams in 2004 as a test driver and replacement in some of the races for Ralf Schumacher. He retained his duties for the team in 2005.
"Formula 1 was a great experience,” said Pizzonia when asked about his switch from F1 to Champ Car. "Every day you learned something new in that car because there was so much money invested in t he teams. But I am a racing driver, and I want to go racing not just testing. Champ Car is really a great series. The races are great, there is passing and battles on the track, it is exciting and that is exactly what I need and desire. I can't wait to get to climb into the #8 Rocketsports car and go racing!”
Pizzonia recently ran a two-day test with the Rocketsports team down in Houston, Texas at the MSR Houston road course. With only a few hours of seat time, he was running laps close to the best times that were posted by other Champ Car teams at that venue, which resulted in a very positive test and left a strong impression with the Rocketsports team owner, Paul Gentilozzi.
"Pizzonia demonstrated a great understanding of open-wheel cars through his quick learning skills and performance during the Houston test a few weeks ago," said Gentilozzi on his overall impression on Pizzonia's driving talent. "He showed us that he could run at the same level with former series championship drivers, which goes to show he will be able to run up front with these guys in competition. I am happy to have him on board; he will bring a lot to the team with his previous knowledge, his wonderful personality and winning spirit."
In 2003, Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi expanded his racing program to compete in the Champ Car World Series. With popular veteran driver Alex Tagliani at the wheel, the team was set to make a statement. In their first year, the freshman Champ Car team had many successes, including two pole positions and three podium finishes. In 2004, the Champ Car operation was further enhanced with the addition of a second car. Round 8 at Road America on August 8th was the pinnacle of the season for Rocketsports Racing with the sophomore team's first victory. In 2005 Rocketsports continued to demonstrate its ability to produce reliable race cars for their drivers, as Champ Car rook ie Timo Glock finished second in most laps completed to two-time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais. Crowned Rookie-of-the-Year, Glock finished eighth overall, one of only two rookies to finish in the top ten of the championship standings.