Target Chip Ganassi Racing has taken perhaps the biggest risk of its CART life, by signing two rookies for 2001.

The four-time Champcar title winner has plumped for F3000 front-runners Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian to replace the out-going Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser next year, despite testing several more experienced candidates in what amounted to a shoot-out for the two seats.

Junqueira and Minassian both have impressive credentials, and could hardly be separated for the balance of the FIA F3000 campaign in 2000, but no-one really expected Chip Ganassi to take both drivers for next year. Junqueira, as eventual F3000 titleist - and WilliamsF1 test driver - was considered likely to get a seat, with Minassian possibly winding up at the nascent Zakspeed outfit.

"I am very proud and lucky today," the Brazilian told journalists at a press conference in Fontana today, "Target Chip Ganassi has proven that it is one of the world's best teams, and expects a lot from its drivers. I expect a lot out of myself, and I know that, with the talent at Team Target, we can expect many good things in the future."

Junqueira's new team-mate was also bullish about his chances of impressing with Ganassi, claiming that the team's success could translate into his own.

"I've been working for a long time to achieve my goals in racing - and today one of my dreams has come true," he said, "I'm confident that more of my dreams will come true soon."

Despite giving seat time to promising Americans such as Casey Mears and Buddy rice in the trials, neither came close to matching the two men selected by Ganassi for the first season in five where he won't have a title to defend.

"Bruno and Nicolas displayed a lot of talent and experience during our tests, and they both have impressive racing resumes," the team boss said, "One thing that jumped out at us is how similar their attitudes and racing styles were to Vasser and Montoya. We believe these guys will quickly become stars in this series."



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