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Young Australian, Josh Hunt, to get Champ Car ride
Toyota Atlantics first 
April 5, 2004

A young Queenslander has been given the chance of a lifetime and will line up in a Champ Car at this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 in his hometown of the Gold Coast, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie announced today.

Gold Coast 18-year-old Josh Hunt has been given the opportunity to drive in the America-based Toyota Atlantics Championship this year and will be on the grid in a Champ Car for this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 21 to 24.

The opportunity has been made possible by sponsorship from high-profile Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore and his company WPS Financial Services and US-based Australian Champ Car series owner Kevin Kalkhoven.

Hunt will become the first Australian to drive a Champ Car at Queensland’s premier event since Jason Bright in 2000. Gary Brabham, son of three-time world champion Sir Jack Brabham, is the only other Australian to have competed in a Champ Car on the Gold Coast back in 1992 and 93.

“This is one of the biggest announcements we have ever made on the Lexmark Indy 300,” said Mr Beattie.

“A young Queenslander has the opportunity to further his international motor racing career and also line up in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans in his hometown.

“It also adds a new and exciting element to this year’s Lexmark Indy 300, with a Queensland driver on the grid for everyone to support. The atmosphere will be electric.

“I must thank Gold Coast businessman Craig Gore who has seen the potential in Josh, and also to Aussie Champ Car principal Kevin Kalkhoven who is leading the resurgence in this great motor racing category which is a feature of Indy.”

Hunt’s entry into the Toyota Atlantics Championship with team Lynx Racing and the Lexmark Indy 300 is an extension of the company WPS’s involvement in Australian motorsport which includes a V8 Supercar team and sponsorship of the V8 Supercar safety car program.

WPS owner Craig Gore said the support of Hunt was a natural extension of his company’s motorsport branding and the start of WPS motorsport’s junior development program.

“Indy is a fantastic event and we are delighted that we have been able to provide the support needed to get a young Aussie into the field for this year’s event,” said Gore.

“We have taken a corporate box at the event each year and now we will have a car in both the V8 Supercar and Champ Car events, which will be fantastic.

“Josh has shown maturity beyond his years and we really think he is a star of the future. The fact that he is Gold Coast born and bred is also another appealing thing about this young guy.

“We are using motorsport at all levels to brand WPS Financial Services with the V8 Supercar program being our number one priority.

“It would be great if we could kick-start Josh’s career into the big time and for him to be a part of our V8 Supercar operation in the future.

“For this deal to proceed, I acknowledge the support of Kevin Kalkhoven who has put his money where his mouth is regarding the Champ Car World Series, and we look forward to working with him and his team.”

Kalkhoven is delighted to have Hunt in the US and, more importantly, have him set for a drive in a third Champ Car from his own PKV Racing operation at the Lexmark Indy 300 later in the year.

“I am Australian and I am proud that we have been able to put this deal together,” said Kalkhoven.

“I think it is important to have an Australian in the Gold Coast race and hopefully full-time in the future.

“We have to thank Craig Gore for his support of this program and I am sure Josh will do a fine job.

“It will be a bit of a buzz for me personally to have a young Aussie in a Champ Car on the streets of the Gold Coast.”

Lexmark Indy 300 Chairman John Cowley was thrilled with today’s announcement.

“I think having Josh in the Toyota Atlantics Championship will give fans plenty to focus on during the season,” said Cowley.

“It is a great breeding ground for future Champ Car stars, and will give him plenty of experience before focusing on that big race on the Gold Coast come October.”

Hunt will travel to the US tomorrow for a two-day test in Las Vegas later this week before another test at Buttonwillow in California next Tuesday. He will then travel to Long Beach where he will compete in the opening round of the championship at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“There is no doubt that this is one of the greatest opportunities I could be provided,” said Hunt.

“The door has been opened for me thanks to Mr Kalkhoven and Mr Gore and I know I have to make the most of it.

“I realise I have responsibilities as a representative of Queensland and the Lexmark Indy 300 and I will be doing everything possible to fulfill those on and off the track.”

Hunt will live in Sonoma in California, which is about 85km north of San Francisco. He will work with the Lynx Racing team on a daily basis and will have Kiwi-born engineer and team manger Steve Cameron as his mentor.

A media program has been put in place to allow the Australian media and the general public a chance to follow Hunt’s progress through the season.

WHO IS JOSH HUNT?

Josh Hunt is a mature 18-year-old who has shown an enormous amount of talent behind the wheel over the past couple of years.

Hunt, born and bred on the Gold Coast, has been living and racing abroad by himself for the past three years.

In 2001 he was a young ambassador for the Lexmark Indy 300 and carried event signage on his race suit and kart.

After winning the Australian CIK Karting Championship in 2001 he lived in Europe by himself at the age of 15 and recorded some impressive results in the pressure-packed world of European karting.

Last year he competed in the “Stars of Tomorrow” karting series in the US and had some tremendous results including several wins.

He also contested four rounds of the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship with some top 10 results in not necessarily the best equipment and after joining the series mid-way through the season.

Recently Hunt was invited to complete a Formula BMW test with 2003 Asian championship-winning team - Meritus.

Not only did Hunt test the car, he broke the current lap record at the Sepang Formula 1 circuit just outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

As part of the test, Hunt was given a written driver appraisal from former F1 driver Alex Yoong – the report was praising in the least and recommended that Hunt would start as one of the favorites in the championship in 2004 if he was to compete.

Hunt was in the process of trying to get the budget together for the BMW series when the partnership with Kevin Kalkhoven and Craig Gore presented itself.

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