CHAMPCAR/CART: RuSPORT announces driver change

RuSPORT Announces Driver Change 2002 Series Champion Cristiano da Matta to Replace A.J. Allmendinger in ...

RuSPORT Announces Driver Change

2002 Series Champion Cristiano da Matta to Replace A.J. Allmendinger in #10 Champ Car

LOVELAND, Colo., June 9, 2006 -- RuSPORT has announced a change in its Champ Car World Series driver lineup. Effective immediately, A.J. Allmendinger will no longer pilot the #10 RuSPORT Champ Car. This change will be effective for the duration of the 2006 Champ Car World Series season.

"A.J. has been with us since we created RuSPORT late in 2002," said team owner Carl Russo. "During that time, we won the 2003 Formula Atlantic Championship and the 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year together. However, as RuSPORT and A.J. have progressed, we believe a different environment will help A.J. to grow even faster, and so we have made this very difficult decision. We expect that A.J. will be a winner in any category he competes in. We thank him for all his efforts and we wish him well in the future."

RuSPORT has also announced that 2002 Champ Car World Series Champion Cristiano da Matta has joined the team and will become the new driver of the #10 RuSPORT Lola / Ford-Cosworth / Bridgestone. Da Matta's first race with RuSPORT will be the upcoming G.I. Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, which takes place June 16-18 at Portland International Raceway, in Portland, Ore.

Da Matta returns to Portland as the event's defending champion, and brings an impressive racing resume to RuSPORT. During his championship season in 2002, he won seven poles and seven races, including a record four consecutive wins at Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto. Da Matta then spent two seasons racing in Formula 1, where he competed with Toyota F1 and scored a total of 13 championship points. He was named the 2003 Formula 1 Rookie of the Year, as well as the 2002 SPEED Channel Driver of the Year.

As a member of Dale Coyne Racing, da Matta has competed in all four races during the 2006 Champ Car season, and currently sits in ninth place in the championship standings. He joins RuSPORT as a teammate to driver Justin Wilson, who is in second place in the championship, just 31 points behind the leader, Sebastien Bourdais.

"I would like to thank Dale Coyne for giving Cristiano the opportunity to display his desire, competitiveness and professionalism in front of all of us, this season," said Russo. "I would like to also thank Dale for allowing Cristiano to join RuSPORT at this time. As for Cristiano, all I can say is a former champion with enormous experience is joining our team at a time when we are pushing to win the Champ Car driver's championship, and that can only bode well for our chances. As all are aware, Cristiano is a true champion on and off the race track and we welcome a competitor of this caliber to the RuSPORT family."

"To say this is a great opportunity would be an understatement," said da Matta. "This is my sixth season in Champ Car. Only in two of the previous five seasons have I felt like I could fight for a race victory every time I went to the track. Now, I can say I have that opportunity again with RuSPORT. I'm looking forward to getting started, and I plan to make the most of this opportunity. I want to thank Dale Coyne and the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing for all of their hard work, and I would also like to thank Carl Russo and everyone at RuSPORT for giving me the chance to compete in the #10 Champ Car."

-rusport

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Carl Russo , Dale Coyne , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Dale Coyne Racing