Walker Racing tests new talent for 2008 Preparations have begun for the upcoming 2008 Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda as Walker Racing completed the second day of many tests to come this off-season. The Indianapolis based squad tested Atlantic hopefuls from the Star Mazda Series, Alex Ardoin and Ron White, at Putnam Park Road Course in Mount Meridian, Indiana yesterday and today.
“We started our test program for the 2008 season with our colleagues, Performance Friction Brakes, in an effort to test Star Mazda talent who are looking to get into Champ Car Atlantic for next year. Our main objective was to have a test that gives these drivers an introduction not only to the car and the series, but to the team as well, and we fulfilled that goal,” stated Derrick Walker, Walker Racing Owner.
Walker Racing and Performance Friction Brakes announced at the beginning of September that they formed a strategic partnership to help talented youth reach the pinnacle of the sport in an attempt to give back to the open wheel community. This week’s test was the first of several to come as the two parties began their search for a hopeful driver.
“Derrick Walker and his staff have been consulting PFC with the very Star Mazda driver candidates that we have been looking at. We supplied them a list of who we liked and it was the very same people whom they liked. We have five to six drivers on our radar and the Putnam test is just the first step as we progress through the evaluation process,” commented Darrick Dong, Director of Motorsports, Performance Friction Brakes.
Making his mark at the Putnam Park Road Course on Thursday was Californian, Ron White. The 26-year old, is currently competing in the Star Mazda Championship and has two race wins, seven top-ten finishes with six of them being in the top-five, under his belt. White showed his talent as he gained momentum and topped the time charts all day. “Everything went really well and it was a great test for my first time in an Atlantic car. It was definitely a good experience working with Walker Racing. I learned a lot in a short time, it was an exciting car and an overall great test,” said White.
Jumping aboard the Atlantic car for the first time today was Alex Ardoin, who is also currently running in the Star Mazda Championship. He has had a successful season with one podium and four top-ten finishes. The Louisiana native was on a roll this week as he adjusted quickly to the Atlantic car and team. “I had a great experience. The whole Walker Racing team was very professional. They got me fitted and acquainted right away with the team. I spent Thursday observing and was really impressed with their professionalism. It really helped having Simon, he showed us a lot of great things and I definitely learned a lot,” commented Ardoin.
On hand for the two day test was 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Champion and Team Australia Champ Car driver, Simon Pagenaud. The Frenchman voluntarily assisted and did some baseline setups on the car as well as give advice to the drivers. “It was nice to be able to see a different style of driving and to get back in the Atlantic car. The guys had a great two day test and I was able to teach them a couple of things and they both improved with each session,” said Pagenaud.
Walker Racing and Performance Friction Brakes will continue testing potential drivers in the Star Mazda Series, with hopes of helping them make it to the next step in racing.