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Overheard in Mexico - 6 (Viso eyes Champ Car)UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News page.
01/30/08 Ernesto Viso seems to have a bigger chance to compete in the Champ Car Series this year. The young Venezuelan driver will be in Sebring testing for Minardi Team USA Feb 2 – Feb 4.
Viso with Minardi co-owner Keith Wiggins
Viso tested a Champ Car in December with the team owned by Keith Wiggins and Paul Stoddart, a test that left a good feeling for both parties and brought the opportunity to talk about a future together.
“The chances of being in Champ Car has increased”- he said- “we have been talking with Minardi and we agreed to test again. I got some offers from GP2, but I prefer to keep my mind in Sebring. With my sponsors, I am working on the program to land a seat in 2008 that will enable me to fight for wins”.
01/04/08 After making the headlines in 2007 for all the wrong reasons, Ernesto Viso insists that he wants to be back on track full-time next season.
To that end, Viso made his Champ Car debut with Minardi Team USA at Sebring last month, and includes the series as a potential destination.
"I think F1 is the target for all drivers, for sure it was mine," he admits, "I was there in Brazil last year and really liked it, and I think I did a good job. For sure, I am going to keep working hard to be there, and am working [to get] the sponsors here.
"F1 is always my first option but, if it doesn't happen, I want to race and I think Champ Car could be a good decision. The [Minardi] test went very well, and we were very quick even if myself and one other driver were the only ones on track and it was a bit green. I liked the car - it was a bit heavy, but there was a lot of power because of the turbo. It was fun to drive and the times were very quick - the guys were impressed and I was impressed as well. The team did a very good job and, if that's the way we're going to go next year, I think they're a good option for us."
"These days, even if you are a test driver in F1, you still need to race something because they don't do much," he explained, "There is no third driver as there was before, driving on Fridays, so, if I am third driver, I need to race something. In that case, Champ Car may be a bit too far [away], so GP2 could again be the best option."
"I think GP2 is always a good place to be because you're next to F1 and you're racing at a very high level," he reasoned, "I love to develop cars, and understand them really well, but, because it [GP2 has] a new car, the championship is going to be a bit more expensive and drivers need to bring a bit more money, and that's the difficult thing for me.
"The thing is that, because of my nationality, it is probably easier for me to get sponsors to race in America, but we still have options in GP2 and we're still working and talking to them. There's a door open over there, but sponsors are the biggest reason why we are looking at Champ Car."
"I'm a racing driver and what I love is to race, but I also understand that it is a very difficult sport and that there is a lot of politics involved," he signed, "We, as drivers, depend on money and many other things out of our hands, and, at this point, I think money means a lot. I'm depending on some sponsors to get up [to F1]. This year, everything was looking alright but, at the end, it didn't happen for some other reasons.
"However, we're reacting to the conversations we're having over the 'phone and talking to different people, but it's still too early to know - even if it's late."
11/30/07 As expected after his appearance in the paddock at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Ernesto Viso will test a Champ Car with an eye toward joining the series next season. Viso will join the Paul Stoddart/Keith Wiggins-run team at Sebring next Monday and Tuesday, as the Champ Car testing season gets underway.
Viso flew to Minardi's Indianapolis shop for a seat fitting this week and the Venezuelan hopes to impress enough to be offered a ride in Champ Car for 2008 should he not succeed in breaking into F1.
"We are still in negotiations with a view to Formula One, and that continues to be the first option, but we haven't closed the door on exploring other options, such as Champ Car, especially with a competitive team," Viso's manager, Ali Gursoy, confirmed, "A third alternative we have is to return to the GP2 Series, where we have had proposals, but we would only return with the intention of winning the title."
11/11/07 We spotted 22 year old Venezuelan Ernesto Viso in the PKV Racing hospitality area and says he is taking a look at Champ Car, but of course needs to find sponsorship. In 2005, he raced in the inaugural season of the GP2 Series for the BCN Competicion team, alongside Hiroki Yoshimoto. In 2006, he again raced in the GP2 Series for the iSport team. He won the San Marino Sunday race and the Spain Sunday race. He also drove the third Spyker MF1 Team car in the Friday practice sessions of the Brazilian
Grand Prix........Likewise, 29-year old Enrique Bernoldi from Brazil was also looking around for a ride and hanging out at PKV Racing. If you recall he tested with the Rocketsports team at MSR Houston two years ago when Paul Gentilozzi was trying to put together a "Team Brazil" along with fellow Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia. He had 29 career starts in F1 during a year and a half stint with the Arrows team until the team folded part way through 2002. He drove against Jos Verstappen in 2001 and Heinz Herald Frentzen in 2002. He drove some Brazilian Stock car races this year. Both drivers said they liked the new Panoz chassis.
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