Minardi Team USA feeling lucky in Las Vegas
Minardi Team USA is geared up to begin the 2007 Champ Car World Series season this weekend in the streets of downtown Las Vegas. England’s Dan Clarke and The Netherlands’ Robert Doornbos will be navigating the 2.44-mile street course for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Robert Doornbos enters the American open-wheel racing scene from a successful career overseas. He is pulling double-duty this year, also serving as test driver for the Red Bull Racing Team in Formula One. Robert’s thoughts going into Las Vegas:
"It's always exciting to be looking forward to the start of a new season, but even more so in this case, as we are in such an amazing place as Las Vegas. However much testing you do ahead of time, it's never really the same as being at the first event, with all the other teams and drivers, and finally getting the racing under way. It's what all drivers want. Champ Car is obviously a new challenge for me, but I think it's going to be great. The pre-season testing we've done has allowed me to get a good feel for the DP01 Champ Car, and to settle in at Minardi Team USA, and now I can focus on working with the engineers, to improve the car still further, and learning the Las Vegas track layout. I feel really positive about the situation, and will be aiming to do the best job possible for my team."
Dan Clarke returns for his sophomore season in CCWS, with the same team that was behind him when he earned his pole position at Road America and his third-place finish at Denver last year. Dan Clarke’s thoughts on the season- opener:
“There’s been only one thing missing from my preparations for the new season, and that’s driving the new Champ Car. I’ve been close to the team over the winter, trained hard and worked at every aspect of my race program that I’ve been able to do without testing. Continuing with a team that I worked with last year and my experience of the Championship will stand me in good stead for Las Vegas, and I go there without any pressure, just focusing on myself and the team. I visited Vegas in September 2005 with a trip to the oval race, so I remember the place well. It’s great to be returning as a driver, and I’m expecting the street race to be a huge spectacle. For me, I think I need to have the tortoise-and-hare approach. I don’t think anyone is sure quite what to expect from the track or the car, and with the new DP01 chassis and a long race distance, the most important thing is to be there at the end. Exercising caution, taking care of the car, and building momentum as the weekend progresses is my plan. No gambling for me!”
Team Co-owner Keith Wiggins’ thoughts on the Vegas Grand Prix:
“I am glad we are finally here. We have wanted a race in downtown Las Vegas for quite some time, and I’m pleased we finally achieved it. We start off the season with new cars, at a new course, and it should be very exciting. Hopefully, we’ll have a good, sensible race here and get the new season off to a strong start.”
Minardi Team USA Co-owner, Paul Stoddart, comments:
“It’s always exciting to be starting a new racing season, and it’s doubly so in this case, as the Vegas Grand Prix marks the first-ever event for Minardi Team USA in the Champ Car World Series. It’s the start of an exciting new chapter, and I’m sure that with an excellent driver line-up, in Robert and Dan, and a highly experienced team behind them, we’ll be able to put in some strong performances during 2007. We’re also looking forward to introducing the Minardi two-seaters to a brand-new audience this year. With former Minardi F1 Team drivers Zsolt Baumgartner and Patrick Friesacher acting as high-speed chauffeurs, a number of lucky passengers will definitely experience the ride of a lifetime around the streets of Las Vegas this weekend.