IRL/Champ Car deal reportedly done

The deal to unify Champ Car and the Indy Racing League has finally been completed, according to reports in America

IRL/Champ Car deal reportedly done

Respected American journalist Robin Miller last night reported on SpeedTV that the two weeks of negotiations have ended successfully.

He claimed Champ Car teams have been told to stop work on their cars and to expect delivery of new IRL cars later this week. Autosport.com understands that the announcement of the merger will be made by IRL officials tomorrow.

IRL boss Tony George's offer of free cars and engines, plus $1.2 million for any Champ Car team that will contest the full IRL season is believed to have been taken up by at least five teams.

Although nobody would confirm a deal had been reached, several team bosses are expecting the announcement imminently. When asked where his team would be running this year, Conquest Racing boss Eric Bachelart said: "I think I will be in a unified series."

After speaking to Champ Car co-owner Gerry Forsythe, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Mike Lanigan said: "He indicated we were likely looking at one series."

Walker Racing boss Derrick Walker added: "We should all hear something positive on Tuesday or Wednesday."

Newman/Haas/Lanigan, PKV, and Forsythe are expected to enter the IRL with two cars each, while Walker, Conquest, and Dale Coyne Racing are likely to field one each. The futures of Minardi Team USA and Rocketsports are unknown, and Pacific Coast Motorsports are believed to be heading for the American Le Mans Series.

Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy will fly to Indianapolis for a seat fitting later this week, before heading to Homestead for the first IRL test of the season on February 27-28.

"We're going to have to thrash to make it to Homestead," he told SpeedTV. "We don't have any experience with those Dallaras so we're going to need all the practice we can get. But this s definitely the best thing that can happen for open-wheel racing."

It appears that an agreement has been reached on one sticking point in the deal: the date clash between the Champ Car round at Long Beach and the IRL race at Motegi on the April 19-20 weekend. The Motegi date is believed to have been rescheduled for later in the summer.

Champ Car's race at Edmonton, Canada, which draws the series' biggest crowd is likely to be confirmed in the IRL schedule, as well as a non-championship race at Surfer's Paradise, Australia. That brings the schedule to 19 races this year, with more road course events likely to be considered for 2009.

But Indy boss Tony George still refused to confirm a deal on Monday evening, telling SpeedTV: "While it is true that I continue to believe we're at the threshold of something long-overdue, we have not yet stepped across it."

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