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Beatriz back for Sao Paulo and Indianapolis
6 April 2012
Brazil's Ana Beatriz will be back in the cockpit for the forthcoming races in São Paulo, Brazil and the Indianapolis 500 in May., driving the Andretti Autosport #25 Chevrolet sponsored by Ipiranga car.
The deal means that Beatriz will be added as a 27th car to the regular 26-car line-up as a 'promoter selection' for her home race in São Paulo on April 29.
“After the decisions had been made, race promoter BAND asked us to add Ana Beatriz to the field and we were happy to accommodate that request without limiting the field for the race,” said series CEO Randy Bernard, confirming that the previously announced 26-car cap for flyaway races would be waived in this instance.
“Driving for Andretti Autosport is the biggest opportunity I've had in IndyCar and my career," said the 27-year-old Brazilian, who last year participated in the full IZOD IndyCar Series season with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing alongside Justin Wilson.
“I've been watching Bia for a few years," said team CEO Michael Andretti. "She was very strong in Firestone Indy Lights, and I was impressed by the pace she showed there. This opportunity is a good fit for us as a team."
"I am very honored to be part of Michael's team for Brazil and the Indy 500," added Beatriz. "Andretti couldn't be a better fit. I am very much looking forward to working with the team, Marco [Andretti], James [Hinchcliffe] and Ryan [Hunter-Reay]."
Andretti will be partnering with Conquest Racing to support the #25, with Conquest owner Eric Bachelart happy to be back in action after his team was left on the sidelines for the opening races of 2012 because of the lack of an engine supply deal.
"This opportunity came to us late so we are grateful for the operational support provided by Conquest Racing," said Andretti.
"We are very happy to be partnering with Andretti Autosport in this project," responded Conquest Racing's owner, Eric Bachelart. They are a top organization and we look forward to developing a successful relationship with them.
"Our team has had a lot of momentum recently and this is a program that fits in very well with everything we are doing in other series," he continued. "This will be a historic year for the 500 with all new cars and it gives us a great opportunity to fight for a top spot with Ana in the car."
Beatriz was the first female driver to win a race in the Firestone Indy Lights series with victory in the 2008 Nashville race. She went on to compete in 20 IndyCar races, starting with the São Paulo race in 2010 and claiming a career-best result of 11th at Toronto in 2011.
Beatriz' signing for the two rounds highlights the importance of the Brazilian market as a course of sponsorship for IndyCar teams, especially now that the series has extra interest from Brazilian fans after the signing of Rubens Barrichello as a full time series regular.
"Brazil is an important, growing market for many of our sponsors, so to have a Brazilian driver and Ipiranga come aboard with us made a lot of sense," agreed Andretti. Ipiranga is one of Brazil's iconic petroleum and convenience retail companies.
As well as Beatriz and the regular three-car line-up of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe, the team will also be fielding another 2011 season regular, Sebastian Saavedra, in an AFS Racing co-entry at Indianapolis. Saavedra is back in Firestone Indy Lights this season and won his first race of the season at Barber Motorsports park. He is also working as a test and reserve driver for the Andretti IndyCar squad in 2012.
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