Lynx Racing's latest graduate, Michael Valiante was the quickest of the four top young racing talents tested by the Walker Racing Champ Car team during the week of December 8 at Sebring International Raceway. He is expected to test with the team again in January.

Also participating in the Walker test were Atlantic drivers Ryan Dalziel and Jonathan Macri, as well as German F3 driver Timo Glock.

"I was mentally prepared for it to be a huge jump from Atlantics to Champ Cars, but once we got the track cleaned off and the tyres warmed up, I got down to some competitive, consistent times pretty quickly," said Valiante. "We kicked it up a notch the second day and knocked another half second or so off the time, and did a 30-lap run at the end of the day. It was a very comprehensive test programme that was good for both the drivers and the team, and I think Derrick Walker deserves a lot of credit for being the one Champ Car team owner who's out there during this unsettled time keeping a high profile and working toward the future."

Each driver went through a comprehensive evaluation programme designed to provide the maximum opportunity to experience a wide range of disciplines required to drive a Champ Car, starting with two days in the shop for seat fittings and engineering meetings. On the track they experienced a full range of simulations, from qualifying runs, to pit stops, to full-tank runs.

"We are investing in the future now, and these kinds of tests really provide both the team and driver with a lot of meaningful insight," says Walker. "Michael and I have been working together for some time now to try to build a race programme, and during the test he demonstrated that he is a highly focused young talent who is more than ready to take the next step in his career."

Valiante, who won six races and finished on the podium 12 times in 28 CART Toyota Atlantic races with the Lynx Racing team, was scheduled to test and race with the Walker team in the CART season finale at Fontana Speedway in Southern California on November 2. However, the event was cancelled due to the devastating wildfires in the area.

Valiante is a national and international karting champion, 'Rookie of the Year' and scholarship winner in the Barber Dodge series, and is widely regarded as one of the top prospects to become a star in the CART Champ Car World Series.

He is the most recent graduate of Lynx Racing, one of the most unique and successful driver development programmes in open wheel racing today.

Lynx has confirmed that Bryan Sellers will lead its Atlantic squad in 2004. Sellers is the 2002 Zetec Formula Ford champion with eight wins and seven poles, and ran four Atlantic races with the Lynx team in 2003. He will make his debut as the full-time driver of the #19 Lynx Racing Swift 014.a at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, 2004.

 

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