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Minardi Team USA signs Clarke and Doornbos UPDATE Here is the full transcript of today's Minardi Team USA announcement.

03/28/07 The owners of Minardi Team USA Paul Stoddart and Keith Wiggins announced today that Dan Clarke (pictured right) will join Robert Doornbos on the Team Minardi USA for 2007.

"Hiring Dan was probably the worst kept secret in Champ Car. Since last year he was an obvious target for us," said Paul Stoddart. More to follow....

Ticketmaster, Mirage Casino and a number of other blue chip sponsors are backing Dan Clarke and Paul Stoddart has put together a multi-company sponsorship package for Robert Doornbos that will be announced Thursday night before the Vegas GP season opener.

Team Press Release

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Minardi Team USA is pleased to announce that Dan Clarke and Robert Doornbos have signed to compete in the 2007 Champ Car World Series with the Indianapolis-based squad. After a successful pre-season testing program, the team will debut its new DP01 chassis next week, at the season-opening event in Las Vegas.

Britain’s Dan Clarke drove for the team in 2006, finishing second in rookie-of-the-year standings after claiming a pole position and a third-place finish during the season. Clarke joined CTE Racing-HVM from the prestigious British Formula 3 International Series, where he earned seven podiums and one victory in 2005, his rookie season. While competing in Formula Ford in 2004, Clarke also won the famous Formula Ford Festival, at Brands Hatch.

“I’ve been waiting and hoping for this news for a few weeks now, and I’m relieved it has finally been confirmed,” says Clarke. “Although I haven’t been in the new car yet, I’ve kept in close contact with the team and attended the tests, while also concentrating on maintaining peak fitness, so I’m as prepared as I can be at this stage without having driven the DP01. I would like to thank Paul (Stoddart) and Keith (Wiggins), for putting their faith in me, and I look forward to building on my debut season and bringing the team strong results.”

Dutchman, Robert Doornbos, has extensive single-seater experience, having raced for Jordan, Minardi and Red Bull in Formula One, and will combine his Minardi Team USA Champ Car activities this year with testing commitments for the Red Bull Racing F1 team.

“I’m really pleased to be racing with Paul Stoddart, Keith Wiggins and Minardi Team USA,” says Doornbos. “It’s obviously a different Minardi team from the one I last drove for, in Formula One, but there is still the same, close-knit, family feeling about it that I like.

“In addition, the engineering staff is strong, and we’ve made some solid progress developing the new DP01 Champ Car during the pre-season tests. I’m sure that will stand us in good stead once we arrive in Las Vegas, for the first race of the new season. I’m very excited at the prospect of being able to race in a full championship and, hopefully, be in a position to win races and challenge for the title.”

Team Co-owner, Paul Stoddart, comments, “It’s excellent news that Minardi Team USA has been able to sign the exciting driver pairing of Robert Doornbos and Dan Clarke for its first assault on the Champ Car World Series. The team will aim to hit the ground running at next weekend’s season-opening race, in Las Vegas, and will be looking to improve on its strong fourth-place finish in last year’s Championship standings.”

Keith Wiggins says, “I am very happy with the driver line-up we have for 2007. As we all know, it is a key ingredient to have good-quality drivers in your cars to be successful, especially as the equipment continues to be more equal among all the teams. This is not always possible in the motor sport business, but we, as a team, have always strived to get the best package we can in terms of performance, and have not lost sight of this, even during a rough year. I am therefore especially happy that we have been able to get these two in our team, with the added bonus of also having a quality reserve driver, in Zsolt Baumgartner. Both Robert and Dan have talent, and both have experience of different kinds, which will help the team progress to the next step, following a positive 2006 season.”

Dan Clarke Press Release

British Champ Car driver, Dan Clarke has been signed to drive for Minardi Team USA in this year’s Champ Car World Series, and will race alongside Dutchman, Robert Doornbos.

Former F1 team owner, Paul Stoddart recently purchased a controlling interest in the Indianapolis-based CTE Racing - HVM Champ Car team, the team which Clarke drove for in 2006. Rebranded Minardi Team USA, the two-car Champ Car team will be one of the leading contenders in this year’s championship.

Clarke’s entry continues with expanded sponsorship from Ticketmaster and The Australian Pink Floyd Show, and will feature Clarke’s supported charity, ‘Imagine’, and will also be introducing a range of blue-chip brands to Champ Car via the Speedy Dan communications strategy.

A brand initiative has been developed during the off-season which will see a program of sponsorship, promotions and PR activities introduced over the course of the next two to three years, capitalizing on the unique personality and profile of Dan Clarke, known widely as Speedy Dan. This season a number of new partners will join the roster of sponsors already on board, some on a race-by-race basis and others on longer-term contracts. Two sponsor partners: Mirage, Las Vegas and Canadian renewable resource company, Synapse Power, will be making their first appearance on Clarke’s #4 Minardi Team USA entry at the opening round of the Series in Las Vegas on 8 April.

Clarke had a highly successful season in his debut year of stateside open wheel racing in 2006. Clarke notched up a pole position and a third place podium spot en route to his second place in the rookie of the year standings. He also finished 12th in the overall Drivers Championship.

“Now that the deal has been finalized I can concentrate on preparing for my first race of the season in less than two weeks time, says Clarke. “As well as keeping myself race-fit, over the winter we’ve been working on an innovative partnership program which will be unveiled through the season, and I’m delighted to welcome back to the team Ticketmaster and The Australian Pink Floyd Show. Mirage, Las Vegas, and Synapse Power are new partners from Las Vegas, and I’m looking forward to introducing these companies to the excitement and glamour of Champ Cars.

“This is just the start of some very exciting developments with the Speedy Dan brand, and there’ll be more innovative initiatives being announced over the new few months which will heighten awareness of Team Minardi USA and the Champ Car World Series. My thanks go to Paul (Stoddart), Keith (Wiggins) and Kevin (Kalkhoven) for renewing our partnership – all I want to do now is get in that car and drive, really fast!”

Kevin Kalkhoven, Owner, Champ Car World Series, is pleased to see Clarke returning to the Champ Car grid. He said of the news, “Dan’s a great ambassador for our Series. He’s a great character, both on and off track. He’s a hard racer, who showed fire and daring at so many of the events last year. He is very dedicated and passionate about racing, which is reflected in his lively, warm personality. He’s an asset to Champ Cars and I’m sure that Minardi Team USA will reap the benefit of having Dan in the team.”

Commenting on Clarke’s signing, Paul Stoddart says, “Adding an experienced Champ Car driver to our line-up was always part of the strategy for this season, and we’re delighted to have Dan on board. He proved himself to be a feisty, committed racer last season, and although still only young and relatively inexperienced in motor racing terms, it’s clear he has the maturity, focus and determination to mix it with the best and get the job done.”

Keith Wiggins adds, “Having worked with Dan last year, I know he has the potential to be a Champ Car champion, and to have him racing with us this season is the final piece in the jigsaw. He brings all-important Champ Car experience, including knowledge of the tracks, the organization and the team. Although he missed the pre-season tests, I don’t think he will be too disadvantaged, and I expect him to be up to speed with the new car very quickly.”

‘Imagine’, the not-for-profit arm of a world renowned children’s hospital in Liverpool, England, is based in the home town of John Lennon, iconic musician and founding member of The Beatles, one of the most famous bands in pop history. The appeal is a fundraising initiative that supports pioneering work in child health, from researching medical conditions, to buying vital equipment. Its primary aim is to improve the quality of life for children worldwide.

Clarke returns to Indianapolis, USA, this week to prepare for his new season of Champ Car World Series racing. The first race weekend, in Las Vegas, in two weeks time, will be the first time that Clarke has driven the new-for-2007 Panoz DP01 Champ Car.

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