Viso confirmed as Andretti-HVM co-entry
8 February 2013
Venezuela's EJ Viso has been confirmed as the driver of the #5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Chevrolet entry in this year's IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
The car will be a co-entry between Andretti Autosport and HVM Racing, along with the newly-formed Team Venezuela. This means that Viso will effectively be team mates with the rest of the Andretti stable consisting of James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay with whom he will share technical resources, data and debriefings in a seamless manner.
“I could not ask for more than to get the opportunity to drive for a championship team while representing my country,” said the 27-year-old Viso. “After five years in the series I believe I have found the right environment and look forward to having Ryan, James and Marco as team mates.
"I'm very proud to be able to move into the 2013 season with this new relationship," he added. "It's a dream come true."
Viso started his racing career in the UK and competed in British Formula 3 in 2004 against Will Power before moving to Formula 3000 International the following year and then competing in two full seasons of GP2 with BCN and iSport.
In 2008 he was signed by HVM to race in the newly-unified IndyCar Series, and after two seasons with the team he moved to KV Racing technology in 2010. That year saw his only podium finish in the series at Iowa and his highest position in the final standings (17th). In total, he's made 84 starts in five seasons to date, and along the way claimed 16 top ten finishes.
Least year he was paired with Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello at KV, but still found that breakthrough success to be elusive, prompting him to put together a 'no more excuses' 2013 initiative.
“I have been following EJ's career for quite some time and was able to help him get his start in racing 22 years ago,” said Vicente Tralci, who has formed Team Venezuela with the backing of Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), which also backs Pastor Maldonado in F1. "It's an honour to be able to bring this opportunity to him and to pair with Andretti Autosport. It has always been our dream to be partnered with a team of such high reputation or results.
“We are happy to welcome EJ to the team and to again be running four cars,” said Michael Andretti, the CEO of Andretti Autosport. “He has shown speed in his early years as a driver which we view as very promising, and his personality will lend well to the overall chemistry of the drivers and crew.
"I'd like to thank Keith and HVM for their assistance in this project," he added, acknowledging the importance of HVM owner Keith Wiggins in bringing the deal together in terms of providing an engine lease, a DW12 chassis and funding via the $1 million Leaders Circle funding announced on Wednesday.
Viso himself said that it had taken a lot of work to bring the deal together between Team Venezuela, HVM and Andretti Autosport over the winter, and that initially he'd been looking at piecing together his own team for 2013: "Yeah, Team Viso, Team Viso Venezuela is what has been pretty much on the radar in the last year and a half. It was a great thing that I promoted back home," he said.
"When we let go of starting our own program as an independent program and we definitely thought about what would be the best option then, definitely where we ended up doing right now was what we considered was going to be the most beneficial partnership that we could find," he explained.
"It's been a bit of a process putting all of this together, but today I'm very excited and happy, and honoured and proud that I counted with backing from my group," he told reporters on Thursday. "The sponsors, they come from my country, and they just pretty much merged together and created Team Venezuela, which later on created a partnership with Andretti Autosport.
"Keith is a person that I worked together with for two years. He has a great knowledge, he's been involved pretty much in every top category in the world, including F1," he continued. "Having him back together in the program is really nice. I like working with people that have the same passion that I do. We just are putting energy together, and I believe that this year is going to be a really good one."
Viso added that he had high hopes that he would fit in with the exiting trio of Andretti Autosport drivers in 2013.
"I like the three drivers and I think each one of them have their own forté," he said. "Obviously, Ryan winning the championship - that's a great momentum that the team has, that hopefully we can continue."
Viso said that his race engineer would be Mike Cannon with whom he worked at HVM in his two seasons with the team in 2008-9, and that his race strategy would be called by Paul "Ziggy" Harcus.
"We speak the same language," said Viso of his pre-existing relationship with Cannon. "I believe we can create some great performances in this team together. Here we are five years later and I feel very honoured.
"I believe it's going to be a great combination together with the other three crews and all the more experienced drivers on this team, so I'm really looking forward to all of this team work," he said.