Ganassi signs cream of F3000 talent

Champ Car boss Chip Ganassi has gambled on the top two stars from this year's International Formula 3000 Championship to regain his CART Series crown in 2001

Ganassi signs cream of F3000 talent

F3000 champion Bruno Junqueira and Frenchman Nicolas Minassian, who finished just three points behind the Brazilian, will replace Formula 1-bound Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmy Vasser in the crack Chip Ganassi Racing team. Like Montoya, both drivers are managed by F3000 team boss David Sears.

"Ganassi Racing has proven that it is one of the world's best teams and expects a lot from its drivers," said Junqueira. "I expect a lot out of myself, and I know that with the talent in the team, we can expect many good things in the future."

The last four CART titles have been taken by Ganassi drivers and this is the first year since 1996 when the team has not dominated the championship, following its switch from a tried-and-tested Reynard-Honda package to the emerging Lola-Toyota combination for 2000.

Ganassi's '99 champ Montoya will replace the Benetton-bound Jenson Button at Williams, while second driver and '96 title-winner Vasser has been offered a drive with Ganassi's fledgling NASCAR Winston Cup team after failing to have his contract renewed.

Junqueira and Minassian's signing for Ganassi further strengthens the relationship between David Sears' Petrobras and Super Nova F3000 teams and Ganassi's Champ Car outfit.

Sears engineered Montoya's move across the Atlantic after the Colombian took the F3000 title with Super Nova in 1998. The Petrobras team also has strong links with Williams, for which Junqueira has tested extensively this year.

Toyota Atlantic champion Buddy Rice, who was also on Ganassi's 2001 shortlist, is tipped to make the move the other way and is rumoured to have landed a drive with one of Sears' teams in F3000 next year.

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