The irony of Champ Car's decision to expand its European involvement by adding a third race in Spain won't be lost on many, particularly followers of Oriol Servia.

The Catalan has been one of the World Series most loyal servants in recent years, but still struggles to land a regular ride. This year, he missed the opening round in Las vegas despite starring in pre-season testing, and only found himself on the grid in Long Beach after Paul Tracy broke his back in a practice crash.

Servia's performance in California and the following race in Houston persuaded the Forsythe team to keep him on alongside Tracy when Mario Dominguez's three-race contract came to an end, but the Spaniard was then dropped for the final two races - at Surfers Paradise and Mexico City this weekend - when the team opted for Mexican rookie David Martinez. It was only Tristan Gommendy's financial problems that allowed Servia back into the fray in Australia - where he took provisional pole on his return to PKV Racing. His status for the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez remains unconfirmed.

"I came to race in the United States in 1998 and I have not raced back in Spain since," Servia commented after the 2008 Champ Car schedule revealed the addition of a round at Jerez in the south of his homeland, "But the fans have followed me here all these years, and I am excited to be racing in Spain again - not just to enjoy myself, but to also show the fans the great product that is Champ Car and show them the reason why I left Spain!"

Although early speculation suggested that the European expansion suggested that Britain, France and Germany would head the list of potential venues, Servia insisted that jerez would provide a suitable host.

"The circuit is a great one that offers good passing opportunities, they have a knowledgeable racing crowd and a good weather," he explained, "It couldn't be better news."

Jerez joins the established events at Zolder and Assen on the European side of the 14-race schedule, which also features the overseas trip to Surfers Paradise alongside ten events split between the USA, Canada and Mexico.

"It's a very interesting schedule," veteran team owner Derrick Walker admitted, "When you look at it, nearly 50 per cent of our races are in the US and the other half are in other places outside of the US. When we look at today's world, and our fan base, I think that it's a good split."

Unlike last season, when events were added to the schedule over a prolonged period, the announcement of the 2008 calendar well ahead of the new season is good news according to Minardi Team USA co-owner Keith Wiggins.

"I think we're all happy to now have a schedule with which we can work and take to our sponsors and partners for next year," he explained, "I think it is a pretty good schedule, with solid events we can rely on. On balance, it is a good selection, covering strong markets in Europe, Canada, the US, Australia and Mexico. It is a big positive that the series has been able to get a firm calendar put together before the season finale next weekend, and we're looking forward to some great events in 2008."

For tyre supplier Bridgestone, the addition of Jerez has been a welcome development, as has the return of Laguna Seca.

"One of the series' greatest strengths is the success of its traditional races such as Long Beach, Cleveland and Surfers Paradise, and the new schedule does a great job of building around these cornerstone events while offering the opportunity to revisit a past favourite in Laguna Seca," claimed executive director Al Speyer.

"Bridgestone received a very positive reception for Champ Car from our colleagues in Europe when we raced there in 2007, and I know they have plans to expand on their hospitality and promotional efforts in 2008. And you can once again expect to see Bridgestone as the official tyre of races in markets that are key to our business of selling tyres. All in all, Bridgestone Motorsport is very much looking forward to supplying the best tyres possible to Champ Car drivers as they compete for the 2008 Vanderbilt Cup around the country and around the globe."

 

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