FIVE-TIME CHAMPION GALATI TO DRIVE SPEED TC MERCEDES-BENZ AT ST. PETE POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (March 29, 2005) -- Five-Time SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Drivers' Champion Michael Galati makes his return to the SCCA SPEED Touring Car ...
FIVE-TIME CHAMPION GALATI TO DRIVE SPEED TC MERCEDES-BENZ AT ST. PETE
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (March 29, 2005) -- Five-Time SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Drivers' Champion Michael Galati makes his return to the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Championship this weekend, as he has been signed by Autohaus Motorsports to drive its No. 02 Mercedes-Benz C230 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Galati, who served as the lead driver in the Champion Racing Audi program that participated in SCCA SPEED GT from 2000-2004, won the first three of his five titles in SCCA SPEED Touring Car competition in 1996, 1998 and 1999. With Audi's absence from the 2005 SCCA SPEED GT campaign, Galati's services became available and Autohaus Team Director and driver Peter Lockhart is excited about the opportunity to work with the former Champion.
"Michael has a huge amount of experience and will bring a significant amount of attention to the Benz program," Lockhart said. "We're excited to see what he can do with the car."
Galati and Lockhart began discussions at Sebring two weeks ago, and the two traveled to Moroso Motorsports Park Monday to test.
"The test went well enough, and Michael is enthused to see the potential of the cars at St. Petersburg," Lockhart added. "We had a shock related ride-height issue during the race at Sebring, so our performance wasn't very representative of the car's potential. We believe that the St. Petersburg course will be well-suited for our Mercedes."
"It's pretty cool. A new challenge for me, and an opportunity to run back in Touring Car," Galati said. "I look forward to working together with the team to make the car more competitive. It has good potential.
"I've driven everything," he added in reference to moving from all-wheel-drive in GT and front drive in previous Touring Cars to the rear-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz. "It will take a little bit of adjustment."
Focusing primarily on the SCCA SPEED GT program, which saw him win two Drivers' Championships and finish runner-up twice, including 2004, Galati has only made one SCCA SPEED Touring Car start since winning the 1999 Championship, coming at Road Atlanta in 2003.
A native of Italy, Galati ranks in the top three of every major statistical category of the 16-year old SCCA SPEED World Challenge program, and is its only driver to win more than three Drivers' Championships.
"It's a little tough to predict how we'll run this weekend, but we know it can be very competitive," Galati added. "Maybe not this race, but definitely soon."
Lockhart noted that at this point, Galati will drive the car at St. Petersburg, but did not rule out the possibility of expanding the relationship throughout the remainder of the season.
Practice for this Sunday's SCCA SPEED Touring Car Championship Round Two race at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg begins Friday morning. For a complete schedule and links to live timing and scoring, please visit www.world-challenge.com. This weekend's SPEED Touring Car race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel Sunday, April 10 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern).
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