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Chip Ganassi Racing adds Ryan Briscoe as third driver

January 17, 2005

As long rumored, Chip Ganassi Racing welcomes another talented driver to its arsenal with the addition of Australian Ryan Briscoe to the team’s IndyCar racing program. One of racing's brightest young stars will take the helm of the no.33 Chip Ganassi Racing entry, a third Toyota Panoz G Force, to compliment the no.9 Target car of Scott Dixon, 2003 IndyCar Series Champion and the no.10 Target car of Darren Manning.

“We’re excited about adding a third Toyota powered car to our IndyCar team and even more excited to have a young talent like Ryan come on board with us,” said team owner Chip Ganassi, who is known for having a good eye for finding and developing talent. “When we took the decision to add a third car, we had a strong list of drivers to look at but to have one become available with the kind of talent and drive Ryan has, was a great opportunity for this team. He is as hungry as he is technically oriented and that reminds me of past champions we’ve had.”

Sponsorship details for the team’s third 2005 IndyCar Series entry are being finalized and will be announced very shortly. In preparation for the start of the 2005 IndyCar season, Briscoe will take part in the Indy Racing League Open Test this week at the Homestead–Miami Speedway, aboard a Target sponsored Toyota Panoz G Force.

The 23-year-old Briscoe (pictured right) moves to North America and IndyCar Series competition after serving as a Toyota Formula One test driver last season. He participated in six F1Grand- Prix race weekends at the tail end of the 2004 season as the third driver (Friday test driver) for the Toyota Panasonic team in Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Japan, China and Brazil.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Briscoe, who will make his IndyCar debut at the Toyota Indy 300 in Homestead, FL March 4-5-6. “It’s a fantastic step forward in my career and I am really looking forward to it. F1 was still an option until I got the opportunity to test with Ganassi. I want to be out there winning races and there’s no doubt in my mind that with the Ganassi team, we can be in contention every race weekend.”

A star product of the Toyota Driver Academy, the young Australian won the Italian Formula Renault Championship (2001) with five victories and six poles in 10 races, competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup (4th) and the final round of the French F3 Championship in which he finished second. In 2002, in addition to his duties as test driver for the Toyota F1 team, Ryan competed in the German F3 Championship and the F3000 Championship with Nordic. Briscoe thoroughly dominated the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2003 with eight victories, winning the title at Hockenheim with two races remaining then went on to devote the 2004 season entirely to his F1 test role.

The 2005 IndyCar series season will feature three road course races and fourteen oval races.  “Oval racing may be new to me, as I come from a strictly road racing background, but I got my first taste of it at Phoenix and learned quite a bit,” said Briscoe, who will take in his first official oval practice with other cars at Homestead this week. “It is unlike anything I’ve done before at these speeds and close proximity to other drivers, but I expect to learn very quickly. I have had a lot of good feedback from my engineers as well as both Scott and Darren, who have been through this process as well. It’s just a matter of getting out there and getting a few tests and races under my belt.”

Briscoe will be the third Aussie to compete in the IRL IndyCar Series after Brad Murphey (1996) and John deVries (2002). This coming May, the rising star will join the list other Australians who have attempted to taste victory at the Indianapolis 500; Sir Jack Brabham (1961, 1964, 1969, 1970) whose best finish was 9th , Vern Schuppan (1976, 79, 81) who came closest with a third place finish at Indy in 1981, and Geoff Brabham  (1981-1987; 1990, 1991, 1993) whose best was a 4th place in 1983.

“There’s a lot to look forward to this year but I’m especially pumped about the Indy 500,” said Briscoe. “It’s just one of those races that all drivers put on their ‘To Do List’. It will be amazing to be able to take part in that race with a top team like Chip Ganassi Racing. I can’t wait.”

Target Chip Ganassi Racing will take part in the IndyCar series’ Open Test on both the road course (Jan. 19-20) and the oval (Jan. 22) configurations at Homestead–Miami Speedway this week. The Indy Racing League’s IndyCar season will kick off at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 4-5-6, 2005. Chip Ganassi Racing fans are invited to log onto the team’s official website at www.chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more to stay up-to-date with all the exciting goings on and off the track throughout the year.

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