Looking to build on its tenth place finish in the Nations Standings from the inaugural season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, A1 Team Canada has today announced Vancouver's Sean McIntosh and Toronto's James Hinchcliffe as the drivers charged with leading the team's attack for the 2006-07 season starting with the season-opener at Circuit Park Zandvoort, Holland on Sunday 1st October.
With McIntosh (21) returning to the team for the sophomore season, he's joined this time round by another of Canada's break-through open-wheel racing talents, James Hinchcliffe (19). While McIntosh has been competing with success over in Europe for the past three seasons, where he currently sits seventh overall in his rookie season in the World Series by Renault, Toronto-born Hinchcliffe has been powering his way through the North American ranks, a front-runner and race winner in Formula BMW USA, the Star Mazda Series and in 2006, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.
Quebec's Kevin Lacroix (17) has also tested with A1 Team Canada, impressing with his pace and performance, and it is the intention of the team, subject to availability, to give him further opportunities to showcase his skills as the A1GP season progresses.
Delighted to have such an exciting driver line-up A1 Team Canada Seat Holder Wade Cherwayko commented:
"Without a doubt I believe we have in our driver line-up two of Canada's future open-wheel racing stars. Sean (McIntosh) and James (Hinchcliffe) have demonstrated their talents on both sides of the Atlantic and in some of the strongest and most competitive formula's open to young drivers, put simply they're both winners!
"Sean did an amazing job for the team last season, racing against drivers who boasted Formula One, Champ Car and Indy Racing League experience, culminating in his victory in Indonesia while James has proved himself more than capable in pre-season testing, topping the timesheets at Silverstone two weeks ago. Based on their respective forms I'm looking forward to seeing A1 Team Canada return to the top step of the podium this season."
Returning for his second year of A1GP, Sean McIntosh is keen to build on last season's record of success:
"I'm really happy to have the opportunity to represent Canada once again in A1GP. Last season was an incredible challenge but I stepped up and was grateful for the chance to showcase my ability on a truly global motorsport platform. Without a doubt my proudest moment was signing 'Oh Canada' on the top step of the podium having won the Feature race in Indonesia last February. The goal for this season has to be more of the same, we have to be more consistent and if we're up there fighting for podiums and wins at each round then we should be in the mix to win the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport."
Eager to follow in McIntosh's footsteps and enjoy similar levels of success driving A1 Team Canada's A1GP car against 24 rival nations, James Hinchcliffe looks ahead to his debut:
"It really goes without saying that it's an honor to represent your country in anything and A1GP offers a fantastic platform for me to do that in motorsport. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to test for A1 Team Canada back in July and then we followed that up with a pretty good showing in the official pre-season test at Silverstone a couple of weeks ago. I've really enjoyed working with the team so far and I'm obviously looking forward now to competing in A1GP and building on the foundation put down by A1 Team Canada last year."
A1 Team Canada consultant and 1964 Formula One World Champion, John Surtees, is confident in the abilities of the team's driver line-up:
"Sean (McIntosh) and James (Hinchcliffe) make for an exceptionally strong driver pairing for A1 Team Canada! We evaluated Sean last year and he seized the opportunity to race in A1GP with both hands and developed tremendously as a driver in the process, highlighted by his first A1GP victory. From him we expect more of the same with a full season of experience to draw upon this time around. James was impressive from his very first test session, stepping up with ease from the Champ Car Atlantic car he's been racing this season into the more powerful A1GP car. His pace in pre-season testing has been very encouraging and now we're looking forward to seeing how he gets on when the racing starts."
A1 Team Canada will be run this season by Power Hawk Racing, formed by Seat Holder Wade Cherwayko to operate the team 'in-house', in association with Team JVA with John Village continuing to oversee on-track operations as Team Manager. There will be additional team involvement from Toronto-based Team Autotecnica, winner's of the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship.
James Hinchcliffe will be first up on duty for A1 Team Canada in Round 1 at Circuit Park Zandvoort in Holland on Sunday 1st October. Sean McIntosh will also be in action that weekend as he'll be competing in the penultimate round of the World Series By Renault, hosted at Le Mans, France. After Holland A1GP moves on to the Czech Republic the following weekend before the schedule expands to the likes of China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and Great Britain.