Valiante in for DCR at Portland

Dale Coyne Racing have confirmed that long-time Champ Car hopeful Michael Valiante will drive their second car at Portland International Raceway this weekend

The seat became vacant after the team's lead driver Oriol Servia left to join Newman/Haas Racing, where he is standing in for the injured Bruno Junqueira until the Brazilian has recovered from injuries sustained in an Indy 500 crash.

Coyne did not field a second car at Milwaukee and were unable to make much of an impression with their other driver Ricardo Sperafico.

Valiante was put on standby and finally got the opportunity to test the team's Lola at Portland on Wednesday, where he posted competitive lap times on a 'green' track.

The 25-year-old Canadian was at the top of team owner Dale Coyne's shopping list having tested impressively for the outfit during the winter.

"When we needed a driver, he was the first guy that we thought of," Coyne told the Toronto Star newspaper.

Valiante, a former international karting star and Toyota Atlantic standout, has been knocking on the door of a Champ Car drive for the best part of two years.

After several false starts he finally made his series debut with Walker Racing in Mexico City last November. Despite being handicapped by the inferior Reynard chassis, he qualified a strong 12th and outpaced the team's regular driver Mario Haberfeld all weekend.

"I've been trying to get this opportunity for a long time," said Valiante. "It's unfortunate what happened with Bruno and I hate to see anything like that, but that's how things happen in racing sometimes and that freed up this seat for me.

"Portland is one of the most difficult tracks to jump into because it has a lot of very fast corners and they are very long in duration, so you're turning a lot at high speeds.

"So for us it will be important to get the car right in those sections this weekend."

Valiante's deal is currently only for the Portland race but if he performs well - and the team do not need a major cash injection from a 'rent-a-driver' - he is thought likely to be hired for the remainder of the season.

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