RuSPORT to run one car at Montreal
|By David Malsher||Saturday, August 19th 2006, 02:34 GMT|
The RuSPORT team has announced that, as in Denver, it will run just one car in next week's Champ Car race in Montreal.
The Loveland, Colorado-based team lost the services of second driver Cristiano da Mata when the Brazilian struck a deer in a test at Road America two weeks ago, and while most understood why his No. 10 car was withdrawn from the Grand Prix of Denver last weekend, most expected his seat to be filled for Montreal, the 11th round of the 14-race season.
However, this latest decision flies in the face of speculation that RuSPORT might pick a driver that might garner a lot of publicity among the Quebec media.
Parties representing both recently dumped Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve, and ex-Champ Car ace Patrick Carpentier made contact with RuSPORT in the period following da Matta's accident to offer their services.
However, last weekend in Denver, both RuSPORT team owner Carl Russo and team president Jeremy Dale stated that the team's goal was to find a technically astute driver who also had the pace to rob championship leader Sebastien Bourdais of points as its own Justin Wilson attempted to take the Champ Car title.
To this end, drivers of the quality of Franck Montagny had been mentioned in relation to the No. 10 car, especially given that Wilson is a firm believer in the talents of his former World Series by Nissan rival. And the Frenchman still may land the ride. For now though, RuSPORT remains a one-car effort.
"After careful consideration by the RuSPORT management team, we have decided not to enter the No. 10 Champ Car in the Grand Prix of Montreal," said Dale.
"This is a difficult decision for this very competitive group of people, but at this time, it is the correct decision for the team. Our attention at this time is focused on two areas: Cristiano's recovery and Justin's ability to contend for the Champ Car driver's title.
"However, with the time available to us between the Grand Prix of Montreal and the event at Road America in September, we will have an adequate amount of time to make the best decision for the team, moving forward."
Given that Adrian Sussman and Mickey Ryan of CSS Stellar management were present at last weekend's Grand Prix of Denver, there were plenty of paddock whispers that they had come to do a deal for one of their charges - Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon or (somewhat laughably) Juan Pablo Montoya - to drive the second RuSPORT car.
The IndyCar Series - in which both Franchitti and Wheldon take part - ends before Champ Car's antepenultimate event, the Road America race in late September.
However, few - other than CSS personnel and the drivers themselves - know when their contracts with their IndyCar teams end (be it end of season, or end of calendar year).
Other current or former IndyCar drivers known to be interested in Champ Cars are Ryan Briscoe (who tested for PKV Racing last winter), Scott Dixon (who visited the season-opening Champ Car race in Long Beach, along with manager Stefan Johansson), and Tomas Scheckter.