ROCKETSPORTS RACING TO TEST BERNOLDI AND PIZZONIA THIS WEEK IN HOUSTON EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 13, 2006) - The sounds of the Rocketsports Racing Champ Car firing up is enough to get anyone enthused for the upcoming season, but that is not all...
ROCKETSPORTS RACING TO TEST BERNOLDI AND PIZZONIA THIS WEEK IN HOUSTON
EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 13, 2006) - The sounds of the Rocketsports Racing Champ Car firing up is enough to get anyone enthused for the upcoming season, but that is not all that the East Lansing-based team is doing to prepare for the Champ Car season opener in Long Beach. The team will head south to the home of Champ Car's newest hosting race city, Houston, Texas for a two-day test placing Brazilian's Enrique Bernoldi and Antonio Pizzonia behind the wheel of its 750-hp machines.
MSR Houston (Mercedes-Benz of Sugarland Road Course) is a track where the team and drivers can come to experience the excitement of driving on the challenging 2.4-mile road course with 17 turns. The two-day test starting on Tuesday, March 14 will be run to evaluate the drivers' ability to adapt in the car. The team will work with both drivers to ensure they are comfortable behind the wheel before proceeding on finding a good car setup for each individual driver.
Both drivers, Bernoldi and Pizzonia, are well-experienced drivers. Both have solid racing pedigrees that have brought them to the ranks of Formula 1. They are looking for a shift in their careers and a new challenge which has brought them to the States to get behind the wheel of a Rocketsports Champ Car.
Bernoldi started kart racing in 1987 at the age of nine and won a variety of regional and national kart titles before heading to Europe at the age of 17 to try his hand at car racing. In 1995 he entered the Italian Formula Alfa Boxer and finished fourth in the series in his first attempt and the next year entered the European Formula 3 Championship. He dominated the series, winning nine o f the 11 championship races. He spent two years competing in the British F3 Championship before moving to F3000. He got his first taste of F1 in 1999 testing for Sauber at Magny-Cours. His performance earned him a test drive with the Swiss team, and he eventually made his F1 race debut with Arrows in 2001. In 2003 Bernoldi entered the Formula Nissan World Series finishing sixth in the championship during his first season, followed by a third place finish in his second year of competition in the series. In 2005, he returned to the F1 scene as a test driver for BAR Honda.
"This is the beginning of a new challenge for me and my career," Bernoldi said about his upcoming test with Rocketsports Racing. "I was not racing last year; my only time behind the wheel was as a test driver for BAR in Formula 1, so I am excited for this new opportunity. I am motivated to be racing again and that is the reason I am here. I hope that I can learn the car and the track quickly so that I can focus on getting to know the team and the overall feeling behind the wheel of a Champ Car. It will be difficult because this is a different kind of car, one that I am not familiar with, but I am looking for to this test and think that it will be a great experience with Rocketsports."
Pizzonia started racing 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.
"I am very excited to be here," said Pizzonia in regards to his first experience in Champ Car. "This is going to be a new challenge for me because the Champ Car is a different car compared to what I am used to driving. I have not been in a car for a while; the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix was the last time, so I am ready to start driving again. It is going to take a little bit to get used to the car, but I am ready for the challenge and looking to have some fun!"