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Official: Barrichello moves to Stock Cars

27 December 2012

After a month of rumours and reports that he was set to quit the IZOD IndyCar Series after just one season, former F1 Driver Rubens Barrichello made it official on Thursday.

He made the announcement on the Cloozup social media site for athletes and sports stars, which was linked to from Barrichello's verified Twitter feed.

The translated post read: "Hello everyone, the time has come to make it official. I am excited to announce my plans to race for the 2013 Stockcar Championship in Brazil.

"My new home will be at Full Time Sports with our primary sponsor, Generic Medley," he added.

Barrichello made it clear in the announcement that he was basing his decision on his desire to move back to his home land after years competing in overseas motor sports championships like F1 and IndyCar.

"After 20-plus years representing Brazil racing all over the world, it is time to come home," he said. "It will be amazing to race in my home country again, while allowing me to be closer to my family. I have much enthusiasm for what this will bring perfect fit.

"I want to thank each of you for the continued support through the years," he added. "I will proceed to make you proud with my competition on the race track, and my love for our sport and fans off the track."

He signed off with: "Here's to a successful 2013!"

Reports strongly suggesting that Barrichello was to move to the V8 touring car series circulated earlier in December, but despite sources confidently asserting that the decision had been made and the the deal already signed, it was only after the Christmas holidays that Barrichello himself made the news official.

Barrichello had originally been believed to have wanted to stay in IndyCar for a sophomore season, in order to build on a successful rookie year alongside his best friend Tony Kanaan at KV Racing Technology. However it seems that he has been thwarted by being unable to find sponsorship backing to make it happen.

"I'm torn between Indy and stock car," he was reported as saying at the time. “For two months I've been talking to people and trying very hard," he told SPEED.com. "But it hasn't moved much since the last race in Fontana."

Barrichello's name had been connected with race seats at Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports. But after RLL confirmed that they had signed Graham Rahal for 2013, and Schmidt-Hamilton turning to Firestone Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier for a test at Sebring International Raceway as a candidate for a possible second car alongside that of 2012 rookie of the year Simon Pagenaud, it was apparent that Barrichello's options for staying in the US series were closing fast.

Barrichello moved to the IndyCar Series after being ousted from his seat at Williams F1 at the end of 2011 following 19 seasons in Grand Prix racing, which included 11 race victories with Ferrari and Brawn GP.

Early speculation of a possible switch to IndyCar had been dismissed as being unlikely and far-fetched, especially as Barrichello had reportedly promised his wife Silvana that he would never risk high-speed racing on oval circuits. But the news was soon confirmed and he signed up to race with the KV Racing Technology team alongside Kanaan and third driver EJ Viso for the 2012 season.

Ironically the oval circuits ended up suiting Barrichello's driving style almost more than the tricky street and road courses on the IndyCar calendar, and he chalked up 11th place in his first Indianapolis 500 outing and added a tenth and a seventh at Milwaukee and Iowa respectively. However his rest result of the year came at the permanent race track at Sonoma Raceway in Sears Point, California where he clinched fourth place, and followed it up with fifth at the next event Baltimore.

Overall it seemed that Barrichello was getting the hang of the IndyCar Series, even though he only managed 12th place in his first year in the championship with KV Racing Technology. But a lack of sponsorship, and also his own and his family's desire to return home to their native Sao Paulo, means that he won't be able to take the lessons from that first season and put them to work in 2013.

Since the end of the IndyCar season in September, Barrichello has been a guest driver in the Brazilian Stock Car V8 series. He initially drove to raise funds for the children's charity that he and Tony Kanaan run in Brazil, but his successful outings generated sufficient interest among fans and potential sponsors to enable a proper full-season campaign in 2013, and with no comparable deals shaping up to keep him in IndyCar he's finally made the call to switch.

The Brazilian Stock Car championship usually starts in March with a round at Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, and concludes with a return to the same venue in December. Other drivers in the series include former F1 stars Ricardo Zonta and Antonio Pizzonia, and former IndyCar stalwart Vitor Meira.

A conflict with the fourth round of the stock car season would prevent Barrichello from competing in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 even if he wished to do so, but there's still a possibility that be could be a guest driver at the IndyCar round held in Sao Paulo at the start of May should a sponsor and team step forward to facilitate it.


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