When Open Wheel Racing Series frontmen Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven revealed plans to integrate an Australian driver into the fold for 2004 and beyond, discussion naturally turned to the identity of the likely suspects.

"We'd love to have one," Rocketsports' boss Gentilozzi told a press conference last week, "Kevin and I have had lengthy discussions with [the Australian] prime minister and other politicians there... and we're very anxious to do that. "

While the likes of current V8 Supercar star Jason Bright made a brief foray into the CART series with Della Penna in 2000, the new target is likely to come from the host of young Australians currently plying their trade in the junior single-seater formulae. While that would include the likes of Formula One hopefuls - and F3 champions - Ryan Briscoe and James Courtney, another ambitious youngster has already nailed his colours to the Champ Car mast.

At one time linked to the Prost team for both F3000 and F1 testing role, Christian Murchison has set his sights on joining the 2004 Champ Car World Series after the Vitenat Management Group - which has represented the driver for the past year - confirmed today that it was in serious negotiations with a leading team.

According to Murchison's personal website, Vitenat's Chris Hocking claimed that Champ Car was among the options being investigated for his client in 2004, and that a test was likely to take place early next year.

The 23-year old's hopes of breaking into Formula One with Prost foundered on a lack of sponsorship, but his management team is confident of finding the necessary funding to take him to the United States after he completed a solid season in the inaugural Formula Renault V6 series in Europe.

Kalkhoven, meanwhile, has expressed an interest in backing up the Champ Car series' presence in Australia - via the ultra-successful Surfers' Paradise event - by nurturing national talent into the series.

"I am committed to finding a national driver from Australia and taking him up, certainly through the Atlantic ranks and then, hopefully, having a ride in Champ Cars very quickly," the PK Racing co-owner told the press conference audience, "One of the things that makes an international series work well is [having] drivers from each of those countries [that host a round]. One of the great successes in Mexico is our great Mexican drivers, clearly Canada is the same. We have US drivers and new US drivers coming in. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see a 'wallaby' coming in."

 

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