OCTOBER 12, 1998
Young man goes west
THE newly-crowned Formula 3000 Champion Juan-Pablo Montoya has signed a three-year deal to drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the United States. He will replace Alex Zanardi who is joining Williams. Frank Williams - who had Montoya under contract as a test driver - is understood to have played a major role in getting the 23-year-old Colombian into Ganassi and we believe that Frank has a long-term understanding (it may not be officialized) to take Montoya back for the 2002 season if he chooses to do so.
Williams decided not to sign Montoya as a racer because he felt that the youngster needed more time to develop. "Juan-Pablo has a lot of talent," says Williams, "and we are confident Chip Ganassi and his team will offer the right environment to develop his skills further."
Ganassi recently saw Montoya testing alongside Zanardi in Barcelona and says that he was impressed. "He has a lot of confidence and possesses the tools and skills to be a successful driver for us," said the CART team owner.
Montoya will partner Jimmy Vasser as the team bids to win its fourth straight CART title. Montoya is due to start testing at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Florida on October 22, with the intention being for him to run on both the road course and the oval.
It will not be Montoya's first taste of US competition. He raced in the Barber Saab Pro Series in 1994, finishing third in the series.
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