Exit Danica Patrick, enter
Katherine Legge. Bobby Rahal took his team and drivers to the IRL,
including American Danica Patrick, who was an up-and-coming star on the
Champ Car ladder until then. Now she races in the IndyCar series,
but Champ Car has a new female driver from England, Katherine Legge, who
may be every bit as fast.
We caught up with Legge last
week after her test at Firebird Raceway and talked about her move to the
USA and the Toyota Atlantic Series for PKV Racing in 2005.
AutoRacing1: Welcome to the USA
Legge: Thank you very much
AutoRacing1: How long have
you been living here?
Legge: I'm actually not living here. I'm trying to be based out
of here for this year. It's difficult obviously getting set up in a
different country. I was out here for about 6 weeks last year and I've
been out here for about 4 days this year.
you to come to America to race?
Legge: I really think that the Atlantic Series is the best place to be.
I've been given a fantastic opportunity by PKV Racing. And I really think that
Atlantic is the way to showcase my talents and move onto Champ Cars.
AutoRacing1: So you're goal
is ultimately Champ Car?
AutoRacing1: Tell us a
little bit about your career. You started in Karts and then where did you go from
Legge: Yes, that's pretty much it. I started back in '89 and did
10 years of Karting. I've never done a full season of 'car racing' because I've never had the budget. So I did a half a season of
Formula Ford back in the UK. I then moved up and did 4 races in Formula
Renault in the UK. In my second race I got pole and beat the track record,
which got a lot of attention for me. Then I did 2 races in a Formula 3 car. And then last year
I did 3 races in American Formula Renault.
AutoRacing1: And so
now this year you decided to do a full year in Toyota Atlantic?
Legge: Yeah...If I do a full year I still need to find some of the budget.
AutoRacing1: How is the
Atlantic car compared to what you've driven before?
Legge: It's a lot bigger. It's not that it's more powerful than a
3 car, it's just... It's difficult to describe. It's a bit more of a
reach to drive I guess.
AutoRacing1: Does it
have faster cornering speeds?
Legge: Yeah. Oh yeah definitely. It has much more aero and much
more ground effects and a lot bigger tires. So over all it's a big jump up for
AutoRacing1: Have you had to
do a lot of extra training for this year?
Legge: Oh yeah! (Laughs) I have been training very hard over the
AutoRacing1: Do you have a trainer that trains you?
Legge: Yeah. I have one back in England. Itís unfortunate I can't
bring him out here with me but I can't afford to.
might want to hook up with a trainer in the USA.
Legge: My trainer back in the UK gave me a plan of things to
follow while I'm out here anyway.
AutoRacing1: Have you done
enough testing in the off season to be ready for Long Beach?
Legge: I've done two and a half days. It would have been good to have
done more. But we'll see. I think it's the same situation for everybody.
So I'm hoping it will be okay when it's time to get in the car. There is a
lot that I should know setup-wise that I don't yet. There is a lot more that you
can change on these cars.
AutoRacing1: How did your
tests go these past few days? How were your lap times compared to the
Legge: The first day was really good. We're not really too worried about
times right now. We're more worried about me learning and knowing how to
set the car up and the different changes that affect the handling. And basically trying
to get a baseline set up for Long Beach.
AutoRacing1: Have you ever
done rolling starts before?
Legge: Only in Karting...that was a long time ago now. I'm sure it will
be fine. It's a lot less to worry about than in a standing start really.
I think itís a good idea. We will see how it's going to work when we
meet with the teams and go through all the regulations. Because
it's all new to me so I'm going to have to learn all that as well. I
think that that is not going to be a problem. That is the least of my
AutoRacing1: A lot of people
talk about the European system being so good and so competitive. Can you
make any assessment of how it is here in the USA yet or is it too early?
Legge: I think it's really competitive over here as well. To me it's
just a cultural difference. It's not better or worse. It's just quite
different. Europe has got a lot of strength in depth. It's a good place
to be right now. But America is as well. I think that there are
definitely more opportunities when it comes to marketing -- for
instance women drivers in Europe really arenít getting many
opportunities. So I feel like marketing-wise and PR-wise, this is
definitely the place to be.
AutoRacing1: What would you
say your goals are for this year? What would you call a successful year
at the end of this year?
Legge: It's difficult to judge from where I'm starting from at the
moment. I really want to do the best job I possibly can. I obviously
want to win a championship and you never go into a championship thinking
you're going to lose otherwise you've kind of out psyched yourself
already, right? We're going to do a lot more testing after Long Beach.
We've been unfortunate that we havenít been able to get enough in before
Long Beach. But we will get in a lot more afterwards and that will
probably build my confidence. I want to do a really good solid build and
keep improving and do the very best I can, work with the team, work as
hard as I possibly can and see where I end up.
AutoRacing1: You talked
about possibly making it to Champ Car. How many years do you want to be
in Atlantic? How fast do you think you could move?
Legge: I don't know. That very much depends on my performance I guess.
Nothing has been set about time or anything like that. Itís just how I
see myself. It may be that I turn out to do fantastic this year or it
could turn out to be a little bit longer. Until I get a few months and
a race under my belt, I don't know how much work I've got to do.
AutoRacing1: I do appreciate
your time and I do look forward to meeting you in Long Beach.
Legge: Are you going to be there?
AutoRacing1: I'll be there
and we can talk more then after you have some miles under your belt.
Legge: Yeah, definitely. That would be really good. Thank you very much.
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