As the Indy Racing League season enters its closing stages, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has dropped a bombshell by signing Tony Renna to replace South African Tomas Scheckter next season.

As the Indy Racing League season enters its closing stages, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has dropped a bombshell by signing Tony Renna to replace South African Tomas Scheckter next season.


Ganassi confirmed Renna's place in the second Panoz G-Force-Toyota this week, reforming the Indy Lights partnership that current joint points leader New Zealander Scott Dixon and the American enjoyed at PacWest Racing in 2000. On that occasion, the Kiwi won the title, while Renna took fifth overall.


"I'm thrilled to have Tony on board here at Team Target," team owner Chip Ganassi said, "He's a talented driver who has the ability to win races. He's going to make a great addition to the team. Scott and Tony have been team-mates before, and I think they will be a great combination for us for the future. I feel that he has the talent to win races and contend for a championship."


All of which leaves the 23-year-old Capetonian looking for another racing seat in 2004. Drafted by Ganassi after falling out with the management at Red Bull Cheever Racing, the son of 1979 F1 world champion Jody appears to have queered his pitch with Ganassi after failing to win a race in 2003.


The team made no reference to the fact that Scheckter would be on his way at the end of the season, with Ganassi apparently telling the to 'let him make his announcement '.


Scheckter's agent, Enrico Zanarini, said he hoped that Ganassi would rethink his decision to pass on the option year of a two-year deal with the South African, but said Ganassi had let the 15 September deadline pass for a reason, which remains undisclosed.


But Zanarini said he had been in touch with John Barnes, the owner of Panther Racing, about the possibility of Scheckter replacing the Penske-bound Sam Hornish next season. The South African would be facing up to some stiff competition for the seat, with Panther admitting to having a short-list of around 20 drivers it wanted to assess for next year.