James Winslow has secured a late deal to contest the opening round of the Atlantic Championship at Sebring next week, and will run with the Conquest Racing team that gave him the chance to sample a Champ Car two years ago.
The Briton, who has won three championship titles in as many years, had hoped to break into the US open-wheel scene in 2008, but was forced to fall back on another year in F3 when his plans - and major sponsor - fell through. Having battled to find the funds to continue racing through last season, he landed the Australian F3 title, but then appeared to be heading for a year on the sidelines as the global economic crisis made moving into the V8 Supercar scene difficult.
Having little in the way of alternatives, however, Winslow's attempts to find an opening in America paid off at the last moment, with Conquest boss Eric Bachelart offering him the chance to run at Sebring, where the Atlantic series kicks off its 2009 campaign next Friday.
The Briton will be up against it at the Florida airfield, having never as much as sat in an Atlantic car before practice begins, and already two test sessions behind the majority of his rivals. However, fellow rookie Borja Garcia's efforts in last week's Palm Beach International test - where the Spanish GP2 refugee topped the times on both days - will serve as some encouragement, as Winslow attempts to impress both open-wheel and sportscar teams present at Sebring for the annual twelve-hour ALMS opener.
''I'm jumping straight in at the deep end,'' he admitted to Crash.net
, ''I'll be in the car without having had any pre-season preparation, but I'm sure Conquest Racing will do as much as they can to make sure that we do well together
''I already know the team of course, having tested their Champ Car at the end of 2007, and I know that we got on really well together. Having shown what they can do in Atlantics in the past, when they ran drivers like Graham Rahal, I'm very confident that they can put out a very strong car for me this year. I still can't quite believe that I am going to be racing at Sebring, and have a lot to thank Eric Bachelart for - now I'm looking forward to proving that he made the right decision in calling me up.”