Having been team-mates in the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, James Hinchcliffe and Kevin Lacroix will finally meet on track this weekend as the latter makes the step up to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at Portland International Raceway.

Lacroix makes his series debut with Brooks Associates Racing having concluded a deal to run with the Arizona-based team for the remainder of the 2007 season. The 18-year old Quebecois has been running in the Star Mazda series of late, finishing as runner-up to 2007 Atlantic rookie Adrian Carrio, and used the A1GP series as means of keeping his hand in over the 'off-season'.

"My deal to race in Atlantics came together pretty late, but I'm just happy to be racing in the series," he commented, "We had a good test together last week at the Firebird track in Arizona and, although the car's slower than the A1GP car, it's pretty nimble and you can really carry your speed through the corners. I finished second in the Star Mazda race in Portland last season, so I'm looking forward to going back there and making my Atlantic debut."

Lacroix joined the A1 Team Canada line-up in February to fulfil Friday morning 'rookie' duties in South Africa and subsequently completed the hour-long 'rookie-only' session in Mexico, China and Great Britain, before handing over race duties to Hinchcliffe and, latterly, Sean McIntosh.

Meanwhile, Hinchcliffe, who represented Canada in seven of the eleven A1GP rounds, heads to Portland as defending race champion, taking his sole Atlantics win to date. A switch to the two-car Sierra Sierra Enterprises outfit for 2007 sees him partnering early season pacesetter Raphael Matos, who has won all three Atlantic races in 2007, while Hinchcliffe sits third in the points, having cracked the podium for the first time this season in round three on the streets of Houston.

"Things are going well," the 20-year old claimed, "We didn't quite start as strongly as we'd hoped - fourth in Las Vegas was good but Long Beach the following weekend was a little bit of a mess, with some mechanical issues hampering us off the back of the trailer. Houston was definitely a good event from start to finish though, as we were in the top three in every session. I'm up there in the points chase and I'm looking forward to bagging some more points in Portland this weekend."

Having raced throughout the winter in A1GP, where he scored Team Canada's only podium finish, in round two's sprint race in the Czech Republic, 'Hinch' found the experience useful heading into his second Atlantic season.

"Competing in A1GP has proved to be a huge benefit to me," he reflected, "There's no substitute for seat-time in racing and it was great to keep busy and, most importantly, stay sharp behind the wheel of a race car.

"I learned a lot from my time in A1GP. It's such a competitive race series, and so challenging with its unique qualifying format and Sprint and Feature races. It was great training for me, as the racecraft you have to develop competing at such close quarters is something that I'll take and be able to apply throughout my career."