Tagliani reunites with Rocketsports
EAST LANSING, Michigan – After successful runs together back in 2003 and 2004, Rocketsports Racing is proud to announce the return of Alex Tagliani to the team for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with the hopes of picking up with where they left off – in victory lane.
Rocketsports driver Tagliani returns for his eighth season in the Champ Car World Series, behind the wheel of Rocketsports’ #8 Panoz DP01. A true Champ Car veteran, the 34-year-old driver began racing in the series back in 2000, when it was known as CART. He has made 117 starts, earning five poles and 14 podium finishes. His return to the team reflects the positive relationship that was established during his two-year run.
“It is really good to be returning to Rocketsports,” said Tagliani when he returned to the team’s East Lansing-based shop for a seat fitting. “That is because it is nice to come back and see familiar faces, people that I worked with in the past and enjoyed.
“Everyone is very excited about the new car, for the obvious reasons, but also because it gives us a chance to start from scratch. There is a lot that needs to be done, so the chemistry between a team and the driver is very important, and we already have that. I am just so happy to be back, because this place honestly feels like home. In 2003 and 2004, when Rocketsports was just starting out in Champ Car, there was a lot that needed to be accomplished. We were in an environment in which we had to play a lot of catch up to teams like Forsythe and Newman/ Haas. We did a good job then, we worked very well together, and the results showed our solid efforts. That takes us to now, where the situation is very similar. Instead of being a new team, we now have a new car. We are starting from scratch once again.”
“It is a good feeling, generally, in all cases,” continued Tagliani. “We want to win, and we know we are capable of doing that together. But before you can produce results like earning the victory, you have to be happy with where you are at. I think that we are already there because we are all back together, so we will continue to strengthen our relationship while we strive for the wins every day this year.”
In 2003, Rocketsports Racing, a successful multi-car effort in the Trans-Am Series, branched out to open-wheel racing for the first time joining the Champ Car World Series. While the name was new to the Champ Car World Series, it brought together a force of reputable experts and they achieved impressive results in their first year with Tagliani. The new crew and driver were among the first in Champ Car history to prove their strength with a third-place podium finish in the second race of their rookie year. Tagliani led the rookie Rocketsports Champ Car team to three podium finishes and two pole starts. In addition to eleven top-ten finishes in 2003, he earned 13 top-ten starts, and finished tenth in the 2003 championship standings with 97 points.
The successful relationship between team and driver continued into the next season. The famed-French Canadian earned his first career win and first for the then sophomore Rocketsports Champ Car team after starting 13th on the grid in 2004 at Road America. With the win, another podium finish in Cleveland, and consistency in both qualifying and finishing races, Tagliani was able to earn his best-career finish in Champ Car sitting seventh in the 2004 championship standings with 218 points
Tagliani returns to the team after earning his fifth consecutive top-ten finish in the Champ Car season standings. A Toyota Atlantic Championship graduate, Tagliani competed in the Champ Car feeder series for four seasons before making his way to the top ranks. He earned six wins and eight poles during his time in Atlantics, finishing in the top five of the season standings during his last three seasons. In 1994, Tagliani placed fifth in his first professional open-wheel race, the F1600 in Mont Tremblant, Quebec (future site of a new Champ Car venue this season). Prior to his professional racing debut, the Montreal-native dominated numerous Formula 125, Formula A Karting, FF2000, Ice Racing and 100cc competitions, earning 10 championship titles between 1987-1993.
“It is a real thrill to have Alex back on board with us,” said team owner Paul Gentilozzi. “We had two great years together, and I look forward to reuniting with him as our driver for the 2007 season. We have a lot of history together, he was our first “open-wheel” driver and he helped us find ground when we were treading water during our first two years of Champ Car racing.”
“He is an asset to have on any team, as he has proven in his past with our team and the previous teams he has driven for,” stated Gentilozzi on Tagliani’s ability to be a team player. “He is a technical guy, who is not only a driver, but also a crew member. He puts in 100% on and off the track, working with his engineers and the crew to find a faster car. He goes above and beyond just being a “driver”, that is what I admired about him while he worked with us before, and what I look forward to having back this year. It will be an exciting year for us all. It is so nice to be able to sign a driver so early in the New Year, which will aid greatly in the development of learning the new car and really learning how to work together.”
Tagliani climbed into the cockpit of the #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone for the team’s first two tests with the new Panoz DP01 Champ Car and in 2007. Together they will hit the racetrack for more testing time as they will be participating in Champ Car’s Spring Training at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, March 9-10. The 2007 Champ Car World Series season kicks off April 8 in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, the first of a full 17-race schedule running from April to December. Rocketsports PR