Champ Car European Cup announced
Team consistency will again be rewarded when the Champ Car World Series begins its 2007 European two-event swing this week with the championship's race teams doing battle for the inaugural Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Cup.
Champ Car returns to Europe for the first time since 2003 and will race in Belgium and The Netherlands on consecutive weekends – competing at Zolder, the former home of the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, on August 26 and the famous Assen TT circuit on September 2, renowned as the historic venue for the Dutch round of the MotoGP World Championship.
The Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Cup follows a similar format to the recent Champ Car Canadian Triple Crown – the results of a team’s two drivers combine to provide an average finishing position.
Team Australia narrowly clinched the Canadian award with an average finishing position of 5.2 by Aussie Will Power and Frenchman Simon Pagenaud (pictured above). They just edged out Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, which scored 5.5 with rookie Graham Rahal and three-time Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais (France).
The entire Champ Car World Series "family" will actually get the chance to sample Phanos hospitality during the Assen weekend with all the teams staying at the Hof van Saksen resort. Featuring traditional farmhouses with thatched roofs reaching almost all the way to the ground, the Hof van Saksen resort is styled around village squares, typical for the Dutch Province of Drenthe. The luxurious farmhouses and bungalows are fully equipped with modern facilities.
“We are delighted to have Phanos Resorts on board as a sponsor of the Phanos Resorts European Team Cup. Hof van Saksen is a unique facility of which the accommodation is stylish and truly original," said Bart Rietbergen, CEO of Champ Car Europe.
“I was amazed of what Phanos has managed to create in a relatively short time. Our friends from the Champ Car World Series were not expecting to have time to go sightseeing, but now an authentic ‘Drenthe landscape’ awaits them.”
With a host of European Champ Car drivers competing in this year's championship, the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup will certainly be a hotly contested prize.
Minardi Team USA with Robert Doornbos of The Netherlands and Dan Clarke of Great Britain and PKV Racing with Tristan Gommendy of France and Neel Jani of Switzerland could have a slight advantage with both of their drivers from Europe.
The drivers who clinch the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup for their team will each be rewarded with unique trophies and a luxury seven-day stay at a Phanos Resort in Europe for themselves and their partners.
Champ Car World Series President and CEO Steve Johnson believes the new award will provide added spice to the expected spirited competition in Europe.
"We are the Champ Car World Series – adding Europe this year to the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Australian races certainly vindicates the use of the word 'World' in our title,” Johnson said.
“The addition of the European races at Zolder and Assen to our calendar plays an important role in the development of our Series. With 10 of our drivers coming from Europe, I am certain they are all going to be extremely keen to do well in these two races. With this new team prize now on offer, the level of competition should be fierce."
Pagenaud is keen for his Team Australia squad to repeat their Canadian success in Europe.
“We are very proud to have won the Champ Car Canadian Triple Crown, and now we want to add the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup to our collection,” said Pagenaud,
“As a European driver, I obviously want to do well in the two Champ Car races that are closest to my country (France), but the European Cup gives everyone at Team Australia an added incentive and it will certainly add to the excitement of the events.”
While eight of the nine teams in the Champ Car World Series will have two drivers on hand for their Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup assault, Belgian star Jan Heylen faces a tougher challenge as Conquest Racing’s single entry. His results will count twice in the competition.
“I think all of the drivers liked the added competition of the Canadian Triple Crown and with me on a single-car team, the pressure is really on to perform well,” Heylen said.
“I know I will enjoy the idea of a European Cup for the races in Zolder and Assen. Obviously, I will want to have my best result when I race in Belgium in Champ Car for the first time. But it will be equally important to have the European Cup as a goal to do well in The Netherlands. We are all excited about the prospect of getting to race in Europe.”
Both European events will be broadcast live in the US on ESPN Classic – the Zolder race on air at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 26, followed by Assen at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, September 2. European fans will also be able to watch the action live on Eurosport.