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NOVEMBER 6, 2003

Manning gets the Ganassi drive

Darren Manning has been hired by Target Chip Ganassi Racing to replace the late Tony Renna as Scott Dixon's team mate next season in the Indy Racing League. Renna was killed during his first test with the team at Indianapolis on October 22.

Manning, a former BAR test driver, has been racing in CART in the last year, finishing ninth in the CART series this year driving for Derrick Walker's team, despite not having a proper budget. Manning finished second in the recent Surfers Paradise CART race.

The 28-year-old from Yorkshire enjoyed a successful karting career before switching to cars in 1992 when he started out in Formula First. The following year he moved into Formula Vauxhall with Speedsport and finished second in the series. He stayed in Formula Vauxhall for two further seasons before scraping the budget together to move to Formula 3 and in 1996 he won the British Grand Prix support race at Silverstone. He moved to Japan in 1997 and won the All Japan Formula 3 Championship for TOM'S in 1999, also adding the Macau Grand Prix to his list of successes. He tested for Williams but was signed up as BAR's test driver for 2000 while also getting a two-year deal to race for the Arden International F3000 team.

Dropped at the end of 2001 he was forced to turn his attention to the ASCAR series in Britain and even became a TV presenter for a period before getting his chance to race in CART at the Rockingham 500 where he impressed the CART teams to such an extent that a deal was put together for this year.

Manning joins fellow countrymen Mark Taylor and Dan Wheldon in the IRL. It is still not clear what Dario Franchitti will be doing in 2004 but he was not confirmed in the recent announcement from Andretti Green Racing.