Katherine Legge has her eyes set on Champ Car
by Mark Cipolloni

 April 5, 2005

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Katherine Legge

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 Katherine.
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.

AutoRacing1: What prompted 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?
Legge: Yeah

Formula Renault

AutoRacing1: Tell us a little bit about your career. You started in Karts and then where did you go from there?
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 Formula 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 me.

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 winter.

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.


AutoRacing1: You 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 others?
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 worries.

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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The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

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