New Zealand's foremost current motorsport export Scott Dixon has been prevented from linking up with his country's A1 Grand Prix entry because his Indy Racing League employer wants him to focus on returning the team to victory lane.

Dixon tested the black Team New Zealand car at the last A1 round in Dubai and had hoped to be promoted to the race seat, despite current incumbents Matt Halliday and Jonny Reid not having disgraced themselves as New Zealand rose to fifth in the point standings. However, the former IRL champ's plans were dashed when team owner Chip Ganassi ordered him to focus on preparing for the 2006 campaign, when CGR will be running unfamiliar Dallara-Honda combinations for the Kiwi and new team-mate Dan Wheldon.

New Zealand A1 team CEO Bob McMurray told NZ newspaper The Dominion-Post that Dixon's team wanted his full focus from the first test in Phoenix next week, despite no clashing rounds that would have prevented the Kiwi from driving the A1 car in Mexico and the USA in the next two months. Ironically, former IRL rival Patrick Carpentier was simultaneously being revealed as Team Canada's new pilot for those two rounds.

"Scott drives with a great deal of national pride, so to deny our request was very difficult for them," McMurray said in defence of CGR, "Their thinking is that, if Scott is able to accomplish his personal goal to win races, the Indy 500 and the championship, New Zealand will benefit in the same way that it has with [golfer] Michael Campbell winning the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst.

"Chip's Target team has a huge campaign to get through with an all-new line-up - new Honda engine, new Dallara chassis and a new team-mate in Dan Wheldon. This is a new era for them and we appreciate their approach and wish them well. We would like to keep in touch and hope Scott can drive for us in the future."



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