The offseason racing exploits of Champ Car stars Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser, Oriol Servia and Michel Jourdain Jr did not go unnoticed by one of the top stars of the series who has decided that he had better get in on the action.

Spurred on by what he termed a 'disappointing' end to the 2004 season, 2003 Champ Car World Series title winner Paul Tracy has now announced that he will starting his preparation for a 2005 title charge a little early by competing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Tracy will join the defending race winners Bell Motorsports team in what is expected to be a five-driver roster for the #54 Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Pontiac. Tracy will join Terry Borcheller, the 2003 Daytona Prototype driver champion as well as former Champ Car driver Christian Fittipaldi, who was part of the winning squad in 2004.

"Other guys like Sebastien and Jimmy have been driving whether it was in Baja or the Race of Champions or whatever and I didn't want to be sitting idle," Tracy said. "I was not happy with how the 2004 season ended for our team. We aren't scheduled to test our Champ Car until January and this won't interfere with anything we do, so I thought this would be a great way to get ready for the 2005 season."

Tracy tested the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series car last week at Homestead for car owner Forest Barber, who came away impressed with the latest addition to his driver line-up.

"He was very respectful of the equipment, and did everything we asked him to do," Barber said. "I was watching him carefully, and without even pushing it he was running competitive laps by his second lap in the car. He was comfortable in the car, he got along well with the team members and was really low-maintenance. This is a rare chance to get someone of Paul's character and talent in the cockpit and we're excited about it."

Tracy will be back in the Bell Motorsports car in early January for open testing at the Daytona International Speedway for the event on 3-6 February 3-6.

The Canadian will then commence preparations for the 2005 Champ Car season, which is set to begin on 10 April in Long Beach, a race Tracy has won four times. His aims for the new season are quite simple - to win back the title he lost to Bourdais this season.

"This is not a transition for me, this is just about me getting ready for the '05 season," Tracy said. "I have a good contract with Forsythe Racing and I could sit back for the next five months, but I wanted to get out and get back to racing because I intend to take back that (Vanderbilt) Cup that is on loan to Sebastien."

 

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