Simona de Silvestro will jump straight from the Atlantic Championship to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010 after inking a deal to join HVM Racing with backing from Team Stargate Worlds.
Entered under the Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing banner, the programme will carry primary sponsorship from Stargate Resistance and associate sponsorship from Bernard Richards Manufacture, FireSky, Cheyenne Mountain Games, and Cardinal Technologies, while de Silvestro's #78 entry will also lead the 'Do Not Text 'n' Drive' campaign designed to increase public awareness.
Both groups partnered up and spent the off-season testing in readiness for the Swiss racer's graduation from Atlantics, running in both IndyCar and Indy Lights machinery with promising results in both, prompting HVM boss Keith Wiggins to offer a seat in the top flight series.
“From the first day of the first test, we knew she could drive,” Wiggins noted, “The longer we worked with her, the more she impressed us. I think she has a great future in this series. She made a lot of history in the Atlantic Championship and we expect her to make some waves in IndyCar now that she's here.”
de Silvestro will enter her sixth year in North American open-wheel racing after stunning the open-wheel world in 2009 by winning four Atlantic races in dominant fashion. She also earned four pole positions and recorded a total of nine podium finishes, but ultimately came up short in a three-way title fight with highly-rated Americans John Edwards and Jonathan Summerton. Her run to third overall in the standings, however, was also record-breaking as she set new marks for wins, poles and laps led by a woman in Atlantic series history. While Edwards and Summerton ponder their next step, however, de Silvestro's 2010 campaign will see take a major step up the ladder.
“Racing in the IndyCar series, alongside the class of competition that I will be racing with, is a true honour," she commented, "I am very grateful for this opportunity and for the type of team that I will have alongside me. I am equally grateful for the support that I have from my sponsors, family, friends and fans. I am very eager for my debut in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season."
The team will now turn its attention on its first race of the season, the Saõ Paulo Indy 300, in Brazil next weekend, buoyed by another strong run from its new signing at last week's Barber Motorsport Park group test.
While frigid Alabama temperatures may have greeted the team on the first day, it didn't deter de Silvestro who, on only her second IndyCar outing, was able to run some valuable learning laps and, by the end of the day, had completed 48 successful tours with a best time of 1min 12.8124secs. The experience and confidence gained then served her well on day two, and her speed kept her in among more seasoned veterans throughout the session. By the end of the day, she had added another 58 laps with an improved time of 1min 11.335secs, which put her 16th on the timesheets.
“I had a little bit of a rough start, but it was the first time I had been in an IndyCar on a fast track and it is something still very new to me," she explained, "However, at the end of the day, the team and I gained a lot of knowledge and we accomplished our goals. In that respect, I think we managed to have a very successful test. We used the opportunity to try some new things and I believe, as a group, we are heading the right way. Overall, I am so happy with everything and the team has helped me learn quite a lot and I look forward to learning more this season.”