America’s beleaguered Atlantic Championship has announced that more than 10 drivers have so far signed up for the season opener in Sebring on March 19th – but Britain’s Adam Christodoulou says he won’t be among them.
The reigning Star Mazda champion was gifted a paid-for Atlantics drive as part of his prize for winning the title in its former support series, but will not be taking it up. He will instead team up with reigning Atlantics champion John Edwards to race a Mazda RX-8 in the Grand-Am GT class.
And he says that without that opportunity he might not have been driving at all this year – a clear sign that the once-influential Atlantics is being squeezed further away from the mainstream of American open-wheel racing and towards possible oblivion.
Christodoulou confirmed to Brits on Pole by email that the full-season Grand-Am drive was instead of Atlantics, not in addition to it, and added that he hopes to run a few other races during the season. He is scheduled to test with Indy Lights team Andersen Racing.
In a Mazda press release, he said: “After a fantastic two seasons racing in 2008 and 2009 winning two titles back to back in two different championships from around the world, I’m now being thrown my next challenge. In 2010, the Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development program is helping me to further my career to the next level.
“This is a big step for me as I have never competed out of single-seater racing, I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel and proving to everyone that I’m competitive in whichever series I race.
“I think it’s going to be great working with John, as I know we both want the same thing: to be fast, competitive and to win races. I don’t think I could have been partnered up with a better team and team mate.
“Without the Mazdaspeed ladder and its support of young drivers, I may not have been driving this year.”
The car will be entered by SpeedSource and Newman Wachs Racing – NWR being the team with which Edwards won his title in a close fight with team-mate Jonathan Summerton and Team Stargate Worlds’ Simona de Silvestro.
Although the Atlantic Championship lists nine teams it says will be entering cars this year, neither of the outfits that dominated last year’s title hunt are among them. While NWR is looking to Grand-Am GTs with Edwards and Christodoulou, Stargate – which gave Christodoulou a test in its Atlantic car – is working with HVM Racing to bring de Silvestro into the Indy Racing League.
However U.S. Racetronics, which partnered Team Stargate Worlds in the 2009 campaign, is listed as entering.
A bullish release from the Atlantic Championship said: “Series officials announced today that the grid for the season-opening race at Sebring International Raceway has already eclipsed ten committed drivers.
“Teams committed to the race include Swan Racing, Jensen Motorsports, Veach Racing, Condor Motorsports, Paladin Motorsports, U.S. Racetronics, Comprent Motorsport, Polestar Racing and Team Tonis.
“This increased enthusiasm from drivers and teams comes from the announcement of several key programs aimed at giving back to the drivers and encouraging their future growth and development.
“Interest continues to build as drivers seek out the perfect team to field the Mazda-powered Swift 016.a chassis car that will give them a shot at the championship.”