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Williams to test IRL champ Dixon 18 Mar 2004

Scott Dixon (NZL) IRL driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis, USA, 27 September 2003

Kiwi to follow in footsteps of Zanardi and Montoya?

The Williams team confirmed on Thursday that the 2003 Indy Racing League (IRL) Champion and Target Chip Ganassi Team driver, Scott Dixon, will test for the team later this month.

The native New Zealander, who is currently contesting the 2004 IRL series, will test an FW26 on March 26 at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet in the South of France, before undertaking a three-day test in early April at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona.

"I'm very excited about heading to Paul Ricard at the end of next week for my first taste of a Formula One car, although the real test will be in April in Barcelona," said Dixon. "Frank Williams and Chip Ganassi have both been very supportive of this test and are giving me every chance to prove myself. In the meantime, my focus will be on defending Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Championship this season and on the Indy 500 in just over a month from now. With all these opportunities ahead of me, I will do my best to take advantage of them."

Dixon, 23, will work alongside regular Williams team drivers conducting the tests in Ricard and Barcelona (Ralf Schumacher, Marc Gene and Antonio Pizzonia).

Team boss Frank Williams commented, "Scott is clearly very talented, and it will be fascinating to see how he performs in a Formula One car. We are grateful to Chip Ganassi for sanctioning this test, it of course reflects our close and long standing co-operation with an organisation that I hold in the highest regard."

"We have always had a good working relationship with Frank and both teams have reaped the benefits of an arsenal of remarkably talented drivers over the years as a result," said Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner, Chip Ganassi. "This is a good opportunity for Scott to test his mettle in an F1 car and we have always encouraged our drivers to live up to new challenges and strive to be the best."

Both Juan Pablo Montoya and one-time Williams driver Alex Zanardi are former champions with Ganassi’s team in the American series. Montoya is due to leave Williams at the end of this season for McLaren, while current team mate Ralf Schumacher has not announced his plans for 2005.