Monday, March 12, 2007

Champ Cars (Not So) Really Big Announcements

Wouldn’t it be nice if Champ Car would quit muddying the Open Wheel waters and get on with it? I’m speaking about the “Really-Really-Really Big” announcements towards driver line-ups.

Yet there seems to be speculation about RuSPORT and Rocketsports being committed to running only a single car apiece and “working together” under the guise of a technical partnership. Rocketsports did confirm Alex Tagliani as the driver of its Lexington Energy entry.

And while several veteran drivers were patrolling the paddock with helmet bag in hand, they’re finding the chances of landing a seat to becoming a game of diminishing returns.

Curiously PKV Racing, OOPS forgot Red Bull’s name there… Has just announced its second driver. Tristan Gommendy is another GP2 refugee and was a massive 3 seconds off the pace in his Champ Car debut at Laguna Seca.

With Gommendy’s and Tagliani’s confirmation, there are now a total of 10 confirmed drivers with one month left until Las Vegas. Champ Car eagerly awaits the announcements of Graham Rahal, Katherine Legge, Bruno Junqueira, Robert Doornbos and whomever else can scrape up enough funding to entice team owners to give them a ride.

Meanwhile Newman/Haas racing has apparently gone for a cash transfusion with the addition of new third partner Mike Lanigan and the team has been re-christened Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

And speaking of Wiley ‘ol Paul Newman, the actor done good was in typical rare form when queried about NHL’s still unsigned new recruit Graham Rahal. “Shit, I thought the deal was done weeks ago, but Lawyers have to Eat…”

And not so surprisingly, Mazda has stepped into the void left by longtime Champ Car title sponsor Ford, replacing the Dearborn companies Pace Car program with a fleet of its own automobiles. Hmm, doesn’t Ford own a majority stake of Mazda?

Sadly showing the current state of Champ Car was without a doubt Autosport journalist and stand-up comedian David Malsher’s comments during Saturday’s lunchtime break. Malsher quipped: “someone should put Oriol Servia in a car. After all he set the fastest time at Sebring and the $5000 would give him some money to take to a team for a ride this year.” (A $5,000 dollar bounty was offered for anybody breaking the track’s official lap record)

For a further recap of the final Champ Car open test weekend see, David Phillips Friday Test Notes and Saturday’s Test Notes.