This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. AutoRacing1.com has learned that PKV Racing has signed Cristiano da Matta for 2005 and beyond. We will update our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season page (see link above). Mark C. 01/25/05
Cristiano da Matta was asked on a Grand-Am media teleconference today what his plans were for 2005. He replied, I'm planning to race in Champ Cars again. Obviously my main target is to try to race with Newman/Haas Racing, trying to put a deal together. We depend a little bit on some sponsorship deals that are still to be finalized. I'm anxiously waiting on these things to happen. I'm looking forward to be on the racetrack again with Champ Cars. I think my chance to be back with Champ Cars is pretty high. What I'm not sure is where I'm going to be driving at. That's a slightly more difficult question. All these sponsorship deals, they depend on big companies, and sometimes the decision takes longer than we think it's going to take. Sometimes it's shorter than we think it's going to take. But the process is always complicated, so it is difficult to judge. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to be on the grid for next year." Paul Newman commented on a question about a third Newman/Haas entry for 2005 – "We are working very hard on that. It's not completed yet. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays itself out." 01/18/05
As Jim McGee himself says, his arrival at PKV Racing means the team will have no excuses this year. McGee has added some of his own people and technical programs to the mix at PKV and with his leadership Jimmy Vasser and his yet-to-be-announced teammate will be expected to win races and even challenge for the championship.
McGee says PKV may run 2002 Champ Car champion Cristiano da Matta in its second car if Newman/Haas decides it is unable to run three cars. But if da Matta drives for Newman/Haas either Wirdheim or Dalziel will become Vasser's teammate.
"Dalziel and Wirdheim are certainly fast guys and we've got a great interest in both of them," McGee says. "A lot depends on the direction of Newman/Haas. If Carl isn't going to run three cars we certainly have a big interest in Cristiano da Matta. I think he'd be great for our team and he'd be great for the series. He'd be a great teammate for Jimmy and bring a lot to the party. More at Champ Car [Editor's Note: If Carl Haas does not want to pay da Matta's big salary then they should run a third car for Wirdheim, Dalziel, Hunter-Reay, or Valiante.] 01/07/05 We have it on good word that Cristiano da Matta, long rumored to be going to Newman/Haas Racing in 2005, is talking to PKV Racing now. We hear da Matta wants $2 million to race with Newman/Haas but $3 million from PKV Racing. We assume he will take less from Newman/Haas because his chances of winning are greater. We hear Carl Haas almost swallowed his cigar, started perspiring profusely and needed oxygen when told da Matta wanted $2 million (Carl doesn't part with his money easily). If da Matta doesn't get the seat at PKV Racing, we hear that Ryan Dalziel is the next in line. We hear Jim McGee still wants a European trained driver even though Champ Car Toyota Atlantic trained Dalziel smoked his hand-picked European trained driver Bjorn Wirdheim in a head-to-head test at Sebring. We have updated our 2005 Champ Car Silly Season page, check it out using link above. Mark C.