Rocketsports eyes Team Brazil UPDATE #13 According to AutoRacing1.com sources at Rocketsports, the "Team Brazil" negotiation process is ongoing and progress is being made and there is good reason to hope that they will reach fruition. It will be two cars at this point.....if it happens. We hear their Champ Cars are all apart for painting. Could it be to the Team Brazil colors? Hmm.....
The team is not planning to test at Sebring this week. Their next planned test will again be in Houston we hear.03/10/06 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Bernoldi has most of the money, and Pizzonia's along for the ride. We hear that Montagny does not have a lot of money so Champ Car looks very doubtful for him at this point.
03/03/06 According to Brazilian publication Globo.com, Pizzonia and Bernoldi will test for Rocketsports on March 8th and 9th in Houston....must mean Houston Motor Sports Ranch.....unless they mean Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas.
03/02/06 From a press release in Brazil: The Pizzonia and Bernoldi's tests for Rocketsports are part of a Team Brazil project, created by Brazilian enterpriser Marcelo de Oliveira, Paulo Isper, Fernando Gomes and Renato Lopes and immediately supported by Rocketsports Racing. The projects goal is to increase Champ Car Brazilian participation and at the same time help make Champ Car more popular in Brazil.
"And as we are a country in love with cars, we want to make Champ Car "more Brazilian", with Northern and Southern drivers, hopefully leading to a Brazilian Champ Car race next year." said Oliveira. They would race at either Interlagos or the new Belo Horizonte road course currently being built.
“I believe we are making progress toward making Team Brazil a reality." said Gentilozzi. “As Champ Car co-owner, I can say that we're very excited with the possibility to count drivers like Pizzonia and Bernoldi in our championship." added Gentilozzi.
"There were only talks, there is nothing confirmed. I know that, for the race to happen, we will need $5M, something that with sponsors, we could reach."03/01/06 According to reports in the Brazilian media, Rocketsports is talking with Bernoldi and Pizzonia and their sponsors about becoming Team Brazil. Paul Gentilozzi was quoted by the Brazilian media as saying "As co-owner of the Champ Car World Series, I can say I am very am motivated at the possibility to be part of Team Brazil in Champ Car".
02/28/06 Autosport.com reports Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi has confirmed he is hoping to sign Franck Montagny to his Champ Car team by the end of the week.
Gentilozzi said: "I have been in negotiations with Franck and his manager; I have made an offer, they have made a counter-offer and we should soon find some middle ground. Franck seems a strong prospect, and if his heart in his Champ Cars, I believe he will be a major asset to the team and to the series as a whole."
Gentilozzi also confirmed to Autosport.com that should his Montagny deal fall through, he has back up plans with two more ex-Formula One drivers - former Williams tester and substitute driver Antonio Pizzonia, and fellow Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi (Pictured left) who raced for Arrows and for the last two seasons has been one of BAR's test drivers.
"Enrique and Antonio (pictured right) are both young and hungry enough to prove they didn't get the chances they think they deserved in Formula One," remarked Gentilozzi. "I haven't decided yet if Rocketsports will be running a second car this season - I am only prepared to do it if we can do it right. But if it is feasible, those two would be at the top of my list of possible candidates to partner Franck."02/25/06 Autosport.com reports that according to officials at Super Aguri, their preferable scenario would be to have Franck Montagny as reserve driver for the first three flyaway races of the season, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix in two weeks.
Montagny is still looking to join the Champ Car series in the United States and could land a drive with Rocketsports.
However, the Champ Car season is not due to start before April 9th in Long Beach, which would allow Montagny to act as reserve driver for Super Aguri in the first three rounds of the F1 calendar.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is held on March 12th, followed by the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 19th and the Australian Grand Prix on April 2nd.
"Franck Montagny is most likely for the first three races, and after that maybe it will be James Rossiter," a team official told autosport.com.
See other rumor where days ago we said Montagny was in line for the third seat at Super Aguri. Who would want to be the third driver for the slowest (by far) team in F1 is beyond us. Talk about ruining one's career. 02/02/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I read with great interest your interview with Franck Montagny. This guy appears to have the talent and is extremely quick. I can't imagine a Champ Car team not picking him up. Christine Collins, Houston
Dear Christine, Yes, Montagny has the talent, but we hear he does not have a lot of money. We know Rocketsports would like to pick him up, but the team and Montagny's management must put a sponsorship deal together before that can happen. It all comes down to money. Even though costs are way down from the CART days, so too is revenue from sponsors and we have yet to see any major marketing push from Champ Car. Racing is still an expensive sport no matter how you cut it. We are told there will be a bunch of sponsor announcements as we get closer to the season opener. Mark C.01/25/06 Hearing that PKV and Newman/Haas will test at Sebring on Thursday and Friday. We assume PKV will test Montagny and perhaps Legge again. As for Newman/Haas, will they test Timo Glock (pure speculation on our part)? We hear probably Bruno Junqueira. Forsythe Racing will test the day after PKV and Newman/Haas leave. Again, no drivers named. AutoRacing1.com staff
01/12/06 From Montagny's website: In 2006 Franck Montagny will express his talent far away from the circuits of Formula One, where he continued working until the last possible moment in 2005, even topping the leaderboard ahead of two world champions, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.
Now Franck will start a new chapter of his racing career when he makes his way to Indianapolis, headquarters of PKV Racing in the ChampCar series when he will undergo a two day test on the 26th and 27th of January, during the Florida winter on the Sebring circuit.
Franck will fly to America next week in order to undergo a seat fitting and to be integrated into the PKV team (founded by Dan Pettit, Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser), as much as possible on both a personal and technical level.
The Sebring test does not fully indicate what Franck’s 2006 program will be, as he will now need to convince the PKV squad - one of the best and most sought after teams – that his services are just the thing they need for the coming season. 01/12/06 Autoracing1.com has learned that Franck Montagny will test for PKV Racing on January 26th and 27th at Sebring in the hope of impressing the Champ Car paddock enough to land a race seat in 2006. Although he is testing for PKV Racing, it does not mean he will drive for them unless they expand to a 3-car team. Our sources say Servia and Legge have landed race seats for PKV.
PKV has tested a slew of drivers in the off-season as a means of evaluating their skill for them or for other team owners who may not have the money to carry out an extensive off-season test program. We would not be at all surprised if PKV tests additional drivers those same two days in Sebring.
Montagny will soon fly to the USA to have a seat fitting at PKV. Since he was hanging out in the Rocketsports pits at the Mexico City race (see our photo below) we would not be surprised if he ended up at Rocketsports if he were to land a ride, especially if Glock moves elsewhere as has been rumored. Sponsorship is another issue, though it is said Montagny may bring a little.
Montagny is also one of the best test drivers in F1, and with a new car coming for Champ Car in 2007, he could prove quite valuable to any team because they all will be starting from a clean sheet of paper as their old chassis setup data sheets go out the window. 11/10/05 Renault's former official test driver Franck Montagny could wind up in the US based 'Champ Car' category next year. The Frenchman, although getting a recall to test the Renault F1 car in December, attended last weekend's season finale of the open wheeler championship in Mexico.
He was a guest of Paul Gentilozzi's Rocketsports team, according to AutoRacing1.com and French website GP2005.com.
''The atmosphere is great,'' said the 27-year-old, ''and yes, I am in contact with several teams (for next season).'' 11/05/05 We had the chance to talk to Montagny today and he is looking forward to a chance to test a Champ Car. "I think it is a good series," said Montagny. "I have had two years of testing in F1 and at some point you have to race." (Photo right of Franck Montagny, by Mark Cipolloni)
Rocketsports owner Paul Gentilozzi told AutoRacing1.com, "Justin Wilson recommended we give Franck a shot. He said when he was his teammate in Europe that Montagny was a real talent." Wilson should know what talent is as he put his RuSPORT Champ Car on pole Saturday. 11/05/05 In the Rocketsports pits this weekend in Mexico City is French Renault test driver Franck Montagny (pictured right). We hear his contract with the Renault F1 team ends in December and Rocketsports will be testing him. Montagny recently said he would not be a F1 test driver anymore and would only stay in F1 if he could race.
Ironically Sebastien Bourdais lost out on the Renault F1 test seat to Montagny, but Montagny never once raced in two years and Bourdais has now won two Champ Car titles and many races. One can say, therefore, that Bourdais got the better end of that deal. Mark C.