Valiante to make debut

Walker Racing has announced that it will enter a second car for Toyota Atlantic standout Michael Valiante in the Champ Car season finale in Mexico City.The 24-year-old Canadian has been seeking an opportunity to break into Champ Cars for over a ye

Valiante to make debut

Walker Racing has announced that it will enter a second car for Toyota Atlantic standout Michael Valiante in the Champ Car season finale in Mexico City. The 24-year-old Canadian has been seeking an opportunity to break into Champ Cars for over a year and a half. He was to have made his debut for Walker at Fontana last November, but his hopes were dashed when the race was cancelled due to wildfires. He formed a collaborative association with Derrick Walker last summer but was unable to secure enough sponsorship to compete in this year's championship. The opportunity to take over the second Rocketsports seat was dangled before him after Paul Gentilozzi parted company with French teenager Nelson Philippe, but it came to naught when the team opted for the more experienced Memo Gidley (who was later replaced by Britain's Guy Smith). Valiante spent a successful two and a half seasons in Toyota Atlantic from 2001-03, narrowly missing out on the title in '02 and finishing third last year. Before that he was a top international karter, winning the North American 125cc shifter category in 1998 and finishing sixth in the world championships. In an extensive evaluation test conducted by Walker Racing at Sebring last winter, Valiante outpaced not only fellow Atlantic racers Ryan Dalziel and Jonathan Macri but also current Jordan F1 driver Timo Glock. Walker said, "It has been our intent for some time to have Michael join our team. He certainly has the talent and deserves a full-time ride in Champ Car. We are happy to be able to end the season competing again with two entries." Both Valiante and the team's regular driver Mario Haberfeld will campaign Reynard chassis in the November 7 event at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

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