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Cunningham Reflects On 2007 Indy Pro Series Season

Cunningham Reflects On 2007 Indy Pro Series Season

New Zealand racing driver Wade Cunningham has returned home for a quick break over Christmas after completing his fourth season in the United States.

In this quick Question & Answer series he summarises his latest season.

Q: Welcome home Wade. Your last race was in - what? - September. That seems like an age ago now doesn't it? What have you been up to since then?

A: Unfortunately I have not been up to much what with the snow arriving early in Indianapolis this winter! But just a few days before I came back to New Zealand I had an IndyCar test with Andretti Green Racing which I'd have to say has been the highlight of my year.

Q: You've been angling for a test in an IRL car for some time now haven't you? How did this one come about?

A: The IRL introduced some rules last year to encourage the IndyCar teams to participate in the Indy Pro Series. So when they field cars in the latter they are given bonus test days which are valuable because of the lack of testing given to the teams. Because AFS (the team that I drove for this year) was aligned with AGR I was given the opportunity to test at the end of the year in order for them to evaluate me for the future.

Q: And how did it go? Is there a quantum difference, for instance, between the IRL cars and the ones you drive in the Pro Series? Or now that you've driven both, are they quite similar?

A: The only difference that was more noticeable than all of the others would be the deceleration in a straight line. The power and mechanical grip felt like it should in that type of car, and I would also say that the increase in downforce was what I was expecting.

Q: Now Wade, you went back to the Pro Series for a third year this year, as much because the gates to the IRL were still closed as any other reason. With a new car and team it took you a few races to get all your ducks in a row but once you did you were your usual competitive self. How do you look back on the year? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

A: It was a tough start to the season crashing out of the lead in the first race! From there the team and myself really struggled to be consistent because we had not tested even once pre season. After Indy in May we got our rhythm and were as competitive as (eventual series winner Alex) Lloyd in the second half of the year. So I am pleased with my contribution this year. Although we didn't challenge Alex for the championship the team improved significantly, giving them their first pole positions on both road courses and ovals, and also leading races on ovals for the first time.

Q: And 2008? You're obviously still hanging out for a drive in the 'main game' but it still looks like a bit of a closed shop. What are your thoughts on 2008?

A: Getting a ride, and also the right kind of ride, in IndyCar is very tough. The Pro Series is just getting to the point now where it is a credible stepping stone to IndyCars, but there are very limited opportunities. Steve Horne and I are working on 2008, but I think the best strategy for myself long term is to stay involved with a team of AGR's calibre.

Q: You've now been based in the US for four years. Getting to like the place? Or is it just where you happen to be racing at the moment?

A: I love living and racing in America, especially Indianapolis. It is such a great town and I feel comfortable there. The only problem is the winter (it snowed about a foot before I left), but I am down here (NZ) for Christmas and New Year and I hope it doesn't get worse before I get home!

Q: On that subject, there's just so much going on in the US racing-wise isn't there? For instance, Scott Dixon gets to run the Daytona 24 Hour with Target Ganassi. Any chance of you 'branching out' and getting a drive in another category?

A: Actually I am working on getting a prototype ride at Daytona for the 24 Hour race this season. It is a great way to start any season as it finishes well before anything else starts and can't interfere with your main program, so I am heading back early this year to be present at the testing on January 5th and 6th.

Q: Speaking of which, any chance of seeing you back in a kart? Or are you leaving that up to your brother Mitch?

A: I would love to continue to do the CIK Trophy of NZ but it is just too late in January. Whenever the opportunity for me to race a kart properly comes up I will be there with bells on.

Prepared by FAST COMPANY of behalf of Cunningham Motorsport


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