English IRL IndyCar Series star Dan Wheldon believes hecan win the championship this year because engine supplier Honda will makea massive push in a bid to grasp the title from bitter rival Toyota. The Andretti Green Racing driver is set to follow...
English IRL IndyCar Series star Dan Wheldon believes hecan win the championship this year because engine supplier Honda will makea massive push in a bid to grasp the title from bitter rival Toyota. The Andretti Green Racing driver is set to follow the lead of team-mate Tony Kanaan and adopt a consistent approach this season in his efforts to claim the crown.
'Honda are certainly going to be pushing really hard to turn over Toyota's championship win,' said Wheldon on stage at the AUTOSPORT International show at the NEC, Birmingham in England last weekend. 'There's a huge rivalry between Honda and Toyota. To be honest, I didn't really understand how big it was until I raced in Motegi in Japan. We certainly feel that Honda canfight back, and we have no doubt they'll be very strong this year, as willthe team.'
Asked if he could challenge for the title this season, Wheldon said: 'Yeah, I think so. The main thing with the IRL is that the way the points system works you can't afford to not finish. I've got to make sure that when I don't have the car to win, that I keep racking up those top five finishes and then win when I possiblycan.
'Tony Kanaan was a good example. He only won one race but he was inthe championship hunt - and leading the championship - right up until the last minute. But,remember, that last year was only the team's first season in the IRL, and that this year is going to my first full season a s well. I think everything's in place to go well. We've looked really strong in testing and I'm looking forward to it.'
Last year, Dan Wheldon - from Emberton in Buckinghamshire - won the IRL's Bombardier Rookie of the Year title. It was Wheldon's fourth Rookie of the Year title since moving to the USA in 1999.
In December, the 25-year old Englishman was voted 2003 Autosport.com Rookie of the Year inan online poll and received his award in London from the 2002 award holder, Jaguar Grand Prix driver Mark Webber.