TORRANCE, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2001) -- The footsteps may be huge, but four of the world's finest young drivers look to follow the likes of Montoya, Tracy, Zanardi, da Matta and Fittipaldi in making the jump from the world's three leading Formula...
TORRANCE, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2001) -- The footsteps may be huge, but four of the world's finest young drivers look to follow the likes of Montoya, Tracy, Zanardi, da Matta and Fittipaldi in making the jump from the world's three leading Formula 3000-type series into the CART FedEx Championship Series in 2001.
Bruno Junqueira, Nic Minassian, Scott Dixon and Tora "Tiger" Takagi dominated the FIA Formula 3000, CART Indy Lights and Formula Nippon (Japanese F3000) series a year ago in winning 21 of 34 races in the world's top open-wheel feeder series spanning three continents. This year, the quartet all will campaign Toyota power in their quest for CART Rookie of the Year honors.
"We're thrilled to have four of the top young talents in the world joining us in 2001," said Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports. "It's hard not to take note of the success of the drivers coming out of the F3000 ranks. Drivers like Juan Montoya, who gave us our first win a year ago, have shown what type of preparation these young drivers are receiving. Now our goal is to find the next Montoya - and with Bruno, Nic, Scott and Tora, we have four great candidates."
Junqueira (FIA F3000), Dixon (Indy Lights) and Takagi (Formula Nippon) enter the FedEx Championship Series as reigning champions, while Minassian was the runner-up to teammate Junqueira in the European competition.
Junqueira and Minassian will immediately follow in the footsteps of Montoya as they join the Colombian's former team in Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Junqeira won four races in winning the FIA F3000 title a year ago, while Minassian finished second with three victories. The CART champion from each of the past four seasons was a graduate of the European F3000 ranks with Montoya earning the 1999 FIA title the season prior to his 2000 CART championship.
Dixon follows past Indy Lights champions Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Bryan Herta and the late Greg Moore into the Champ Car ranks. The 20-year-old PacWest driver became the first Lights pilot to win races on a road course, street course, super speedway and short oval in the same season. He had seven wins in 24 career Indy Lights starts. A year ago, he won six of 12 races on his way to becoming the second-youngest champion in Lights history (only Moore was younger).
The 24-year-old Takagi was the most dominant driver among those winning titles a year ago. He won a series-record eight victories in 10 races. Despite his young age, he also has spent two years in Formula One, as well as serving as an F1 test driver. Takagi will drive the Pioneer Electronics Toyota for Walker Racing in 2001.