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Latest Champ Car News and Commentary

Long Beach Preview


April 5, 2005

The 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will feature one of its strongest and most talented driver lineups in many years, and each of the drivers that comprise that lineup will be out to prove their worth as the 14-race season kicks off with Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

This year’s campaign features four drivers that have captured Champ Car titles in their illustrious careers, one of which has four Long Beach wins under his belt, along with three former Long Beach pole sitters. But the battle for Long Beach won’t be determined just among those drivers with championship pedigrees as the 2005 Champ Car lineup features a number of drivers and teams that will figure prominently in how the weekend – and the championship – is decided.

The battle for the title usually begins with the guy that holds the crown, but on the 1.968-mile Long Beach street course, any quest for victory has to go through the pit of Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The series active leader in victories (28), poles (22), laps led (3,672) and starts (223), Tracy is the two-time defending winner at Long Beach and has four total Long Beach victories on his resume, second only to Al Unser Jr.’s six. Tracy stormed to the front on the first lap in 2004, using the push-to-pass feature on his Ford-Cosworth XFE engine to move up from his third-place starting spot, and led 78 of the day’s 81 laps to score the win.

One of the two men that Tracy passed on that opening-lap move would shake off the effects of pass and go on to put together one of the strongest seasons ever by a second-year driver en route to the 2004 Champ Car title. Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) carries the Vanderbilt Cup to Long Beach after a year that saw him win six races and seven poles. He earned his first Long Beach podium a year ago with a third-place run and began a remarkable qualifying string that saw him start in the top-three spots in every race in the 2004 season. He has started in the first two rows in each of the last 18 races and has gridded in the top-five in both of his previous Long Beach starts.

Last year’s polesitter also has a strong streak going, but Bruno Junqueira’s (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) string is based on finishes instead of starts. The fifth-year Champ Car pilot – and teammate to defending champion Bourdais - brings a streak of six consecutive podium finishes to Long Beach. The Newman/Haas Racing driver could become the 11th driver in series history to score seven straight trips to the podium if he can reprise his second-place Long Beach finish from a year ago.

Possibly the most impressive streak of all comes to Long Beach courtesy of another former series champion. PKV Racing’s Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will look to make his 198th consecutive Champ Car start when the green flag drops at Long Beach, extending the longest such skein in series history. The 1996 Long Beach winner, Vasser had an uncharacteristic off day in SoCal last year when his 16th-place finish snapped a streak of eight consecutive top-10 Long Beach runs.

Vasser will partner with the other former series champ in 2005 as PKV racing looks for its first series victory. Cristiano da Matta (#21 PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)  makes his return to Champ Car racing after two seasons in Formula 1, and comes back to a Long Beach course that saw him start on the front row and lead 30 laps in 2002. The popular Brazilian has four previous Long Beach starts to his credit with a podium finish coming in 2001.

Changes have abounded in the Champ Car paddock during the offseason with some teams still considering last-minute changes even as the transporters roll for the opener. But some of the teams have had their programs in place despite making changes and expect to make a lot of noise once the engines fire for Friday’s first practice. One of those teams is the Colorado-based RuSPORT squad, who will field a pair of sophomore shoes in its quest for a maiden Champ Car victory.

Reigning Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)  and the man that finished second in the rookie chase Justin Wilson (#9 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone)  will carry the RuSPORT banner into Long Beach as they head into their second seasons. Allmendinger made his series debut at Long Beach a year ago, but knows the way to Victory Lane after winning the 2003 Toyota Atlantic event on the SoCal streets. Wilson made a stirring debut a year ago, coming from 11th on the grid to place sixth, the highest finish for a driver making his Champ Car debut in 2004.

Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will have a new seat in 2005 as he moves to Forsythe Championship Racing to partner with Paul Tracy after running his first three seasons with Herdez (now HVM). Dominguez put together the best season of his three years in Champ Car last season, finishing fifth in the championship. He started the year with a fifth-place run in Long Beach, marking the second consecutive season that he has placed fifth on the tricky California street course.

Long-time Champ Car competitors Walker Racing will have a new look across the board this year as Australians Craig Gore and John Fish have joined Walker as owners of what will now be known as Team Australia Racing. The lineup will feature veteran Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyard Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) along with rookie Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Tagliani has started in the first two rows in his last two Long Beach visits and has a pair of Toyota Atlantic Long Beach wins on his resume. He also comes off his best-ever Champ Car season, after a 2004 campaign that say him score his first victory and finish a career-best seventh in the season standings.

Rocketsports Racing will attack 2005 with a pair of new drivers as well as former Herdez driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) moves to the Michigan-based team along with former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Hunter-Reay enters his third year of Champ Car competition and has tallied wins in each of his previous two seasons. He has also run well at Long Beach, finishing seventh in each of his two starts. Glock comes to the team after a year of F1 duty where he competed with Jordan.

One of the more intriguing lineups comes out of the Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing stable as Nelson Philippe (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Andrew Ranger (#27 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) make up the youngest driver duo in Champ Car history. Philippe became the youngest driver ever to start a Champ Car event last year when he finished 13th in his Long Beach debut, while Ranger will be the second-youngest driver ever when he takes the green flag. Ranger put himself on the radar screen a year ago when he finished second at Long Beach in his Toyota Atlantic debut.

The former Herdez Competition squad will have an entirely new look in 2005 as the team becomes HVM Inc. and attacks with former FIA International F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim (#4 HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and 2004 Toyota Atlantic competitor Ronnie Bremer (#55 HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Both drivers have logged substantial miles in preseason testing and bring a deep and diverse racing background to the Champ Car World Series.

Veteran Oriol Servia (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to the Dale Coyne Racing squad for a second year in 2005, rejoining the Illinois-based team after giving it one of the most successful seasons in its 21 years of Champ Car competition. The Spaniard became the first driver ever to take a Dale Coyne car to the top 10 in the season standings, finishing in a tie for ninth in the final standings.

The quest for the Vanderbilt Cup gets underway this weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Practice begins Friday morning with qualifying sessions both Friday and Saturday, with the 81-lap race getting underway on Sunday. The race can be seen live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

FAST FACTS

TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH

WHAT:  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

WHERE:  Long Beach, California

WHEN:  Friday-Sunday, April 8-10

SUPPORT EVENTS:  Toyota Atlantic, Trans-Am

CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local):  FRIDAY, APRIL 8 – 9:30 – 10:00 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:15 – 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 12:30 – 1:00 p.m., Trans-Am practice; 1:15 – 1:45 p.m., Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 – 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying; 4:15 – 4:45 p.m., Trans-Am practice. SATURDAY, APRIL 9 – 9:00 – 9:30 a.m., Atlantic practice; 9:45 – 10:15 a.m., Trans-Am qualifying; 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 – 1:45 p.m., Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 – 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying; 4:00 – 4:15 p.m., Trans-Am final practice. SUNDAY, APRIL 10 – 8:00 – 8:15 a.m., Atlantic warmup; 9:00 – 9:30 a.m., Champ Car warmup; 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Atlantic race; 1:00 p.m., START OF LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX, 81 Laps; 3:15 – 5:00 p.m., Trans-Am race.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE:  SUNDAY,  APRIL 10 – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, NBC, 4 p.m. (live)

2004 CHAMPION: Paul Tracy

2004 POLESITTER: Bruno Junqueira

TRACK LAYOUT:  1.968-mile temporary street course

RACE LENGTH:  81 laps, 159.408 miles

TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) – 2000, Gil de Ferran, 104.969 mph (1:07.494). Race – 2004,Paul Tracy, 91.785 mph (1:44:12.348) based on 81 laps (159.408 miles)

RACE ROUND:  1 of 14 in the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

2004 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADERS:  1, Sebastien Bourdais, Newman/Haas Racing, 335; 2, Bruno Junqueira, Newman/Haas Racing, 313; 3, Patrick Carpentier, Forsythe Championship Racing, 247;  4, Paul Tracy, Forsythe Championship Racing, 243; 5, Mario Dominguez, Herdez Competition, 228.

EVENT HISTORY: Paul Tracy used the new Cosworth push-to-pass button at the drop of the green flag to rocket past front-row starters Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais, moving from third to first as the field hit the first turn. From there it was just a matter of time as Tracy paced 78 of 81 laps to earn his fourth Long Beach victory, making him just the second driver in Champ Car history to win as many as four times in Long Beach. Junqueira came on to finish second while eventual series champion Bourdais rounded out the podium. Justin Wilson debuted in the series with Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing and finished an impressive sixth, marking the highest finish of any driver that would make their series debut in 2004. Nelson Philippe finished 13th for Rocketsports and at age 17 years, 8 months and 25 days, became the youngest driver to ever start a series race.

VITAL RACE STATISTICS:

Time of Race: 1:44:12.348

Average Speed: 91.785 mph

Margin of Victory: 5.681 seconds

Caution Flags: One for 5 laps

Lap Leaders: Paul Tracy, 78; Patrick Carpentier, 2; Bruno Junqueira, 1.

THE TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH RACE HISTORY (21 events, 1984 - Present)

Year       Race winner                         Pole winner

1984        Mario Andretti                     Mario Andretti

1985        Mario Andretti                     Mario Andretti

1986        Michael Andretti                  Danny Sullivan

1987        Mario Andretti                     Mario Andretti

1988        Al Unser Jr.                           Danny Sullivan

1989        Al Unser Jr.                           Al Unser Jr.

1990        Al Unser Jr.                           Al Unser Jr.

1991        Al Unser Jr.                           Michael Andretti

1992        Danny Sullivan                     Michael Andretti

1993        Paul Tracy                             Nigel Mansell

1994        Al Unser Jr.                           Paul Tracy

1995        Al Unser Jr.                           Michael Andretti

1996        Jimmy Vasser                        Gil de Ferran

1997        Alex Zanardi                         Gil de Ferran

1998        Alex Zanardi                         Bryan Herta

1999        Juan Montoya                      Tony Kanaan

2000        Paul Tracy                             Gil de Ferran

2001        Helio Castroneves               Helio Castroneves

2002        Michael Andretti                  Jimmy Vasser

2003        Paul Tracy                             Michel Jourdain

2004        Paul Tracy                             Bruno Junqueira

Total Victories

Al Unser Jr.                           6

Paul Tracy                             4

Mario Andretti                     3

Michael Andretti                  2

Alex Zanardi                         2

Jimmy Vasser                        1

Juan Montoya                      1

Helio Castroneves               1

Danny Sullivan                     1

Total Pole Positions

Mario Andretti                     3

Michael Andretti                  3

Gil de Ferran                          3

Al Unser Jr.                           2

Danny Sullivan                     2

Jimmy Vasser                        1

Nigel Mansell                       1

Paul Tracy                             1

Tony Kanaan                        1

Bryan Herta                           1

Helio Castroneves               1

Michel Jourdain Jr               1

Bruno Junqueira                   1

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car Notebook

WHO’S HOT

2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) starts the 2005 season with a streak of 15 consecutive top-three starts.  En route to his first championship title, the Frenchman managed to lead the series in wins, poles, laps led and qualifying average. 

Teammate to Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished as the series runner-up for the third consecutive year, becoming the first driver in 30 years to accomplish that feat.  Looking for that first championship, the fifth year Champ Car driver returns with Newman/Haas Racing for the 2005 season on an active streak of six consecutive podiums.

Mexican standout Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) starts his fourth season piloting a Champ Car and his first season driving under the Forsythe Championship Racing banner.  He comes off a career-best fifth-place finish in the 2004 standings and looks to be a strong contender in this year’s title fight.

Oriol Servia (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to Dale Coyne Racing after handing the team its first top-10 season finish.  The Spaniard scored eight top-10 runs, scored the team’s first podium since 1996 and its first top-five qualifying run since 1998.

2004 was an outstanding season for A.J. Allmendinger (#11 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who was crowned Roshfrans Rookie of the Year in 200. The American finished the season scoring top-six finishes in five of the year’s final six races, finishing the season on the podium in Mexico city. 

Moving to Team Australia for the upcoming term, Canadian Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will look to continue the positive momentum coming off his best Champ Car season, which saw him record his first Champ Car victory at Road America.

Turning heads from the moment he stepped into the cockpit of a Champ Car for the very first time, former Formula One driver Timo Glock (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has demonstrated top speed and skills during the pre-season tests in the second entry for Rocketsports Racing.  He will team up with veteran, and two-time race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

The winningest active driver in Champ Car and Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returned to the streets of Long Beach to defend his 2003 win putting on a dominant performance leading 78 of the 81 laps to capture his fourth Grand Prix of Long Beach victory.

Junqueira started last season strong grabbing the pole position for last year’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Finishing second marked the start of a season that would see him on the podium a total of 10 times out of 14 races in 2004.

Justin Wilson (#9 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made a strong debut to the Champ Car World Series by making up the most positions from his starting spot in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, climbing from 11th to sixth, finishing as the highest-placing rookie in the event.

American veteran Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has seen his share of time in the spotlight taking a Grand Prix of Long Beach win in 1996 en route to his championship title.  He also captured the pole position for the event in 2002.

DID YOU KNOW

Now in its 31st year, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach continues to stand tall as American’s longest running and most recognizable street race.  The three-day event features the Champ Cars, the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Trans-Am Series, Formula D, and the world-famous Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.  This event usually attracts a packed house of race fans and celebrities to its challenging 1.968-mile street circuit over three days.

NOTEWORTHY

This year’s Champ Car field will feature four past Champ Car World Series champions.  2004 champ Sebastien Bourdais, 2003 champ Paul Tracy, 2002 champ Cristiano da Matta (#21 PKV Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), and 1996 champ Jimmy Vasser will compete against one another and 14 other drivers in a battle to reclaim the ultimate prize, the Vanderbilt Cup.

The streets of Long Beach have been good to Paul Tracy through the years.  The Canadian recorded his first of 28 Champ Car career wins in Long Beach in 1993, added another in 2000, and scored back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004.  

Walker Racing announced the formation of Team Australia Racing with two Australian business men campaigning a two car team entry in the 2005 season. Australian Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Canadian Alex Tagliani (who coincidentally is married to an Australian) will drive the team’s number 5 and 15 race cars.

This year, Champ Car has made an alliance with Formula D.  “Drifting”, the hottest new addition to the world motorsports scene will be slipping and sliding on the streets of Long Beach, and are scheduled to make appearances at other upcoming Champ Car events, such as Cleveland and San Jose.

BY THE NUMBERS

 17 – Starting position of Paul Tracy which resulted in a win in 2000. 14 – Number of consecutive Long Beach starts for Jimmy Vasser, Champ Car’s active leader in Most Consecutive Starts, when he starts the 2005 race. 11 – Number of the most lead changes during the race in 1998.  8 – Number of times the winner of the Grand Prix of Long Beach went on to win the championship.   6 – Number of times the race has been won from the pole position.  Also the most number of times the same driver has won the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Al Unser Jr. (1988-1991, 1994-1995).  5 – Number of times the Grand Prix of Long Beach’s circuit has changed.

PRONUNCIATION

 

  • Rodolfo Lavin (Lah-VEEN)
  • Sebastien Bourdais (Boor-DAY)
  • Bruno Junqueira (Joon-KEY-air-ah)
  • Alex Tagliani (Tag-lee-AH-nee)
  • Oriol Servia (SIR-vee-ah)
  • Nelson Philippe (Fill-EEP)

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Pre-Race Driver Quotes

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“Last year the McDonald’s team came to Long Beach definitely having (winning) the championship on our mind but we had to deal with new rules on race strategy and we knew we were going to play it safe with both Bruno and I on the front row.  I had problems at the start because I couldn’t engage the Push to Pass so I couldn’t pass the Start/Finish line in front of (polesitter) Bruno, and, the Start/Finish line is really far in Long Beach so I had to wait, and PT (Paul Tracy) just drove by us getting us at the braking zone, but our podium finish was a good way to start the season.  It’s always important to start the season in good shape.  You cannot win the championship by being hard on the first race or winning it but you definitely can lose it.  A championship is very long and if you’re not consistent, always there at the finish, it doesn’t really matter where you are as long as you’re in the top-five; you take yourself out of contention.  For sure a podium finish in Long Beach was plenty satisfying for me.”

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“Long Beach is a very important race for us because it’s the location of the PacifiCare headquarters in Cypress so its also a very busy weekend for us but I enjoy it a lot because they really get you pumped up for the event. This will be my fifth time to race in Long Beach and I like the track a lot; its one of my favorite street courses.  It’s very challenging and I did well there the past two years so I hope I can do well again and get my first win there this year.  It’s really important for the PacifiCare team to have a good race in Long Beach since it’s the first race of the year.  We need to get a good amount of points and start the season strong to build some momentum.  It would be nice to start the season with a win or at least a good finish.”

PAUL TRACY (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“Long Beach is a special place for me.  It was my first Champ Car event (with Dale Coyne Racing in 1991), I’ve won here four times and I’m defending champion after a nice effort by the Forsythe team last year (leading 78 of 81 laps).  I can’t imagine anyplace I’d rather start the season than in front of the fans at the Roar by the Shore, so to say I’m looking forward to this weekend would be an understatement.  I really want that fifth win this year.”

BJORN WIRDHEIM (#4 HVM, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

"Street circuits are my favorite type of circuits, they are where I have had the most success, especially in F3000 and Long Beach is a very nice street circuit.  I remember watching the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the first time about 10 years ago and I have dreamed of racing there ever since.  The circuit looks technical which is what I love about the street circuits.  I can't wait to give the Bridgestone's a spin and get things started.  I think I should have a good feel for the circuit and be up to speed in just a few laps."

MARCUS MARSHALL (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

"I am really looking forward to racing at my first event against some of the best drivers on the planet and I am ecstatic about racing at Long Beach, a fantastic circuit with a great history. I am already off to a good start with a solid teammate, Alex Tagliani. Now that we have the Lola chassis it has put a new drive behind the team to become no. 1 in the Champ Car series. So with their combined experience, and it being my rookie season, there is lot for me to draw on in our quest for success in the Champ Car World Series".

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“The Long Beach Grand Prix is a race known all over the world, so to come back is always a thrill.  It looks like the weather is going to be fantastic and the fans are so enthusiastic it’s impossible not to get excited.  I finished 5th here last year, but this year I’m with the Forsythe team and we really want to produce a strong result in our first event together.  I won’t have had much time in the #7 car when the Green Flag waves on Sunday, but I have a good feeling that we will have a very strong car at every event this season and I’m confident we’ll be up front this weekend.”

TIMO GLOCK (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“Our two tests in Fontana and Sebring went very well.  It is a good time to start the season in Long Beach coming off of that positive kind of momentum.  I am not sure what to expect from the circuit, or the event itself, because this will be my first race in the Champ Car World Series.  The car is very good, and I am very comfortable with it, so I am excited to get started this weekend and see what we can do.”

JUSTIN WILSON (#9 SanDisk Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“I’m really excited about this weekend. My new team, here with RuSPORT, is really focused on winning races and we’ve worked really hard and learned a lot over the winter. I basically can’t wait to get out there and have at it. I think the team is going to have a lot to offer in the way of competition on the track this year. So our plan is to get started on Friday, run a smooth program, and qualify at the front. Then, hopefully, deliver the results on Sunday.”

A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#10 Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“I’m really excited about the start of this season. The RuSPORT team has done a lot work over the winter and I’m also really looking forward to having Justin Wilson as my teammate this year. We really pushed each other last year, racing head to head, and now that we’re on the same team, hopefully we can use that to our advantage. I’m happy with my crew and really happy with my #10 car. I don’t think I’m going to be happy unless I qualifying in the front two rows and finish on the podium on Sunday.”

JIMMY VASSER (#12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“I am pleased with the progress the PKV Racing team made during the off-season.  The process of integrating all of the new team members and programs went very well… as we expected, and I feel we have definitely upgraded the team.  The whole team worked very hard during the off-season and we could not have achieved any more in the amount of time we had.  That is a tribute to the leadership of Jim McGee.  We are well prepared and I am confident heading into the start of the season.  I think the fans will see a whole new PKV Racing team in 2005…one that will be very competitive.  I have had some success in Long Beach (won in 1996 in route to the championship) and because of the history of the event, there are not many races I would rather win.  I am really looking forward to getting the 2005 season off to a good start at Long Beach.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

"After a long off-season I am very proud and excited to have joined Team Australia.  In a short amount of time I have seen that it is a team of talented individuals, who are experienced in racing and motivated to succeed in this competitive sport. After our recent successful test at Sebring it is apparent that we will be competitive this season, with a common team goal of working towards the championship.  Although it is a young relationship between us, I believe that the high number of test days still available to the team after Long Beach will prove to be an added advantage to our program.  As I already have a standing connection to Australia, it gives me refreshed enthusiasm to join this new and exciting enterprise, Team Australia."

ORIOL SERVIA (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“I am very excited to start the new season in Long Beach.  I had a good off-season, I was training a lot and I am very fit.  I am in the best shape possible and ready to go out and surprise some people in Long Beach with Dale Coyne Racing. After a long off-season, I am excited to be returning to the grid and have been preparing for months for this, so I am ready to go and get some positive results.”

CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#21 PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“I am very happy with the way things went for the PKV Racing team during the off season.  I think we made a lot of progress in every way.  We have a lot of new team members and I am very pleased with the way everybody has worked together and come together as a team.  I am also pleased with the progress we made developing the cars.  The Long Beach Grand Prix is one of my favorite races because I like the track so much.  It is one of my two favorite street circuits (Surfers Paradise is the other).  The track is very challenging with a good combination of fast and slow corners, plus it has a great atmosphere with all the fans and activities.  I won in Indy Lights at Long Beach, but I am still pursuing my first win there in a Champ Car.  We will just have to see how things go this year.  I have to say I am very excited to be going back to Long Beach for first time in three years and getting the 2005 season started.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

“The Long Beach Grand Prix is such a huge event and has so much history to it I am honored to compete here again.  With the fact that four Champ Car Champions and four F3000 Champions will be competing in the series this season, I don't think anyone can dispute it is one of the most competitive series in the world.  There is no better place for the first round than by the beach on the streets of Southern California.  I can't wait; it's going to be awesome.”   

RONNIE BREMER (#55 HVM, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

"I like street circuits and Long Beach is an exceptional example of a proper street circuit.  I ran there last year in the Atlantic car, it was certainly one of my favorite races.  The surface is quite bumpy, so there is a lot of work for the driver, you must really push hard to get everything second out of the car and the track.  There is no margin for error, if you are not perfect, the circuit will punish you, and I like that pressure.  That is what is so special about Champ Car, the driver cannot rely on devices, and he must be perfect to succeed."

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