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Servia's last-second sign-up for 2011

Oriol Servia has signed a last-minute deal to race for the Newman/Haas Racing team for the whole of the 2011 IndyCar season, starting with this weekend's opener at St Petersburg.
Veteran US open wheel racer Oriol Servia has completed a last-minute deal putting him in an IndyCar seat for the 2011 season.

He will race for Newman/Haas Racing, having seen off James Hinchcliffe's rival efforts to claim the race seat. At last week's pre-season testing at Barber Motor Speedway, Servia finished with the fifth best time overall behind the three Penske drivers and Scott Dixon, while Hinchcliffe was close behind in seventh position overall - but the difference meant that Seria successfully claimed the #02 car for the year.

"I honestly believe the test couldn't have gone better," said Servia in the team press release ahead of this weekend's season opener at St Petersburg. "I found the whole Newman/Haas team exactly how I left it: willing to do whatever it takes to let the driver do what he does best and get to the front. With one difference though - and that is that the whole team is hungrier than ever and everybody is working like it was their first race, only with 28 years of experience."

Servia last raced for the team in 2009 for four appearances toward the end of the year. He has competed in Indy Lights (winning the title in 1999) and moved to Champ Car the following year, in which his best season was 2005 when he came second in the championship with Dale Coyne Racing and Newman/Haas. His best season in IndyCar was in 2008 with KV Racing, which was the only year he had a full season of starts and ended up ninth in the championship.

"I am energized, focused and better prepared than ever," he said, brushing off concerns that his late signing may lead to a lack of preparedness for the start of the season. "I have watched last year's race and read the famous NHR preparation report for St. Pete a few times. We are ready.

"I expect us to be competitive from the get go in St. Pete. No excuses of being rusty after a year off or anything. I feel ready and the team has a great track record in St Pete and all street races in general. I expect us to shine."

The team says that Hinchcliffe will be part of the organisation, but as yet has no car to drive unless and until sponsorship can be found for him. Until then, Servia will be the team's only entry into the 2011 IndyCar series.

Spanish driver Servia will be wearing a specially designed helmet for this weekend's run, in honour of his compatriot, artist Salvador Dali - the Dali Museum in Florida is in the area of the city encircled by the St Petersburg road course. "I will be wearing my Dali helmet and with the new Dali museum just reopening, I feel I have a special connection with the event," he said. "It is the biggest Dali museum outside of Spain and I am really looking forward to going there on Thursday afternoon."



Related Pictures

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Oriol Servia - KV Racing Technology   [pic credit: IRL/Jones]
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Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, took over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan lead the pack at the start of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Briscoe (left), driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, talks with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, during qualifying Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Briscoe qualified fourth, Kanaan second and teammate Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 won the pole. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates winning the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 wins the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
The eyes of Scott Dixon look down track prior to practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon on course during practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates taking pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on Friday July 12 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates taking pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on Friday July 12 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates taking pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on Friday July 12 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates taking pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on Friday July 12 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates taking pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on Friday July 12 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates taking pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway on Friday July 12 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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