CHAMPCAR/CART: Andrea Montermini aims to return in 2000

Long Beach, CA -- Andrea Montermini has logged thousands of miles in his racing career, but none have been more challenging than the miles he has traveled recently in search of a Champ Car ride. The Italian open-wheel ace, who contested the final ...

CHAMPCAR/CART: Andrea Montermini aims to return in 2000

Long Beach, CA -- Andrea Montermini has logged thousands of miles in his racing career, but none have been more challenging than the miles he has traveled recently in search of a Champ Car ride.

The Italian open-wheel ace, who contested the final four street/road course events of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season for Dan Gurney's All American Racers, has spent the last five months pounding the pavement on both sides of the Atlantic in an effort to secure sponsorship for a 2000 CART campaign.

"I've been talking to a lot of people, and I think we are very close to finalizing deals that will help me run the 2000 season," explains Montermini, who earned points in his AAR debut with a hard-charging performance at Vancouver last year. "For sure, it's difficult to come to CART races and not be driving."

"Although we didn't have the most competitive car last season, the experience proved to me that the FedEx Championship Series is where I need to be," continues Montermini, whose inspired driving on the rain-soaked Vancouver circuit confirmed that the former Benetton and Ferrari Formula One test driver had lost none of his celebrated speed. "I'm very hopeful that I'll be back in a Champ Car as soon as possible. That's my main goal at the moment."

When a highly successful 1999 test with Bettenhausen Motorsports led to the AAR opportunity, it marked a long-awaited return to CART competition for the talented Italian. Montermini made his CART debut at Detroit in 1993, finishing fourth in a year-old Lola, ahead of series stars Bobby Rahal, Nigel Mansell, and Paul Tracy. A promising rookie season was followed by points-paying finishes in his only two 1994 CART appearances, but Montermini opted to return to Europe in 1995 to compete in Formula One.

Following two trying years with underfunded teams (Pacific and Forti) and uncompetitive equipment, Montermini returned to North America to contest the World Sports Car Series (WSC). A standout in WSC competition, Montermini claimed three wins, five pole positions, and six fastest laps in a Ferrari 333 SP in 1997. His sports car prowess -- including eight front-row starts in eleven races -- earned him berths in both the 1998 and 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, and resulted in consecutive sixth place finishes in the famed endurance event.

Although Montermini does not rule out a return to sports car competition, he has set his sights firmly on a ride in the FedEx Championship Series. "It's where I need to be," he states. "I'm a racer, and right now I'm focusing all of my energy on finding a way to compete against the best racing drivers in the most competitive open-wheel series in the world."

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