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Kanaan falls out of De Ferran Dragon drive

Tony Kanaan has lost his potential new race seat at De Ferran Dragon Racing after failing to find sufficient sponsorship money to bring to the team, which itself may now close.
Tony Kanaan's IndyCar racing career is once again in limbo, after he revealed that the deal putting him in a De Ferran Dragon Racing seat in 2011 had fallen apart - which means the team itself is unlikely to compete in 2011 and may be shuttered entirely.

"I came up with some money, but not enough for [de Ferran's team]," he said on Tuesday night from Brazil. "It's hard to take, especially a month before the championship starts,” he continued, "but I'm going to keep fighting and go find something to drive.

"The bottom line now is, who will give me a deal and for how many races?"

Kanaan said that he had enough funding to run a limited campaign of "a handful of races". KV Racing Technology, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Conquest Racing and Dale Coyne Racing still have race seats unconfirmed, while the FAZZT Race Team has also been hoping to run a second car alongside that of team owner Alex Tagliani.

Kanaan did announce a sponsorship program with Brazilian beer company Itaipava, which also sponsors his compatriot Helio Castroneves, but it was too little, too late as far as the De Ferran Dragon opening went. Tuesday was the second and final deadline for Kanaan to confirm his sponsorship backing to team boss Gil de Ferran, after a first deadline of February 15 was extended by a week to give Kanaan more time to cast around.

The collapse of the deal between Kanaan and De Ferran Dragon racing also has potentially far-reaching consequences for the team itself, which has been struggling to find sponsors with deep enough pockets to fund it. If even a driver of Kanaan's stature and popularity can't put together a big enough seven-figure sponsorship deal, then it's doubtful whether anyone can before the season starts on March 27.

"This is a very difficult announcement for us to make," said team boss Gil de Ferran. "When Tony and I put the deal together we both knew that it had to make financial sense and we set ourselves certain targets. We believed that together we were a strong proposition both on and off the track and really felt we could have become a major force in the championship in 2011 and beyond. Despite our collective best efforts we have not been able to secure the sponsorship funds to go any further.

"Regarding the future of our team, at this point we are unclear of our plans; nevertheless it is unlikely that we will participate in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series."

The news of Kanaan and de Ferrran's sponsorship problems ironically came on the same day that Andretti Autosport - the team that let Kanaan go last December while keeping Ryan Hunter-Reay on the books instead - announced that logistics company DHL had signed up as a co-primary sponsor on Hunter-Reay's car and would also provide additional sponsorship support to his new team mate Mike Conway.

Hunter-Reay was in much the same position this time last year as Kanaan now finds himself, having only had enough funds for a limited number of races from his sponsor IZOD. After taking the funds to Andretti Autosports, he then had a strong start to the season with a win at Long Beach that provided enough leverage to secure the funds for the rest of the year, and which has now resulted in the long-term security of a multi-year deal with DHL.



Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League.  July 31-Aug. !, 2009. Kentucky Speedway. Sparta, Ky. USA. Tony Kanaan resting in car before practice.
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway receives the winner`s trophy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with the Ed Carpenter Racing team after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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JOHN - Unregistered

February 24, 2011 2:51 AM

What a sad and tragic tale and story. Its like F1. Only those with deep pockets (ie sponsorship) get the drive and car. There is no character in IndyCar anymore. I wish Tony the very best- that he gets a car that wins races and that he shows the world he is the man. It goes without saying motor racing is an astromonically expensive 'sport'. I'll be keeping an eye on Tony.



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