The joint AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing Firestone Indy Lights operation has confirmed that FBMW and F3 graduate Sebastian Saavedra will fill its second berth in this year's championship.
Colombian Saavedra will compete alongside JR Hildebrand, who was signed by the team after the conclusion of the 2008 season, in an all-new line-up to succeed the title-winning pairing of individual champion Rafael Matos and Arie Luyendyk Jr.
"This is a good opportunity for me," Saavedra admitted, "I'm very happy to be with AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing. The team is so professional that it gives you a great sense of confidence and allows you to focus on the championship. Although I need to learn the car and everything that is new, I know we can be fast and run at the front. If we can get off to a good start, then anything is possible."
The 18-year old Bogota native joins the crack team after a successful 2008 season in the ATS F3 championship in Europe, where he finished second overall and clinched rookie of the year honours in his first year out of FBMW, where he raced successfully in both the USA series and World Finals.
The F3 campaign saw him net three wins in the largely German-based series, plus two wins in the Austrian championship, and four pole positions. Prior to that, Saavedra finished fourth in the 2007 FBMW World Final at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo, having taken victory in only his third race in the USA series and added three further wins FBMW Asia.
"We're excited to have Sebastian join the team," co-owner Michael Andretti commented, "He is young and talented but the thing I really like about him is how much he wants to learn. He seems to be very open and has a lot of people here that are willing to help him learn what it takes to compete at a high level in Firestone Indy Lights. We're looking forward to seeing what he can do."
Despite the Colombian's inexperience at Indy Lights level, he and Hildebrand will be tasked with defending AFS/AGR's Firestone Indy Lights entrants' championship title.
"I'm really excited about this season, and it's great to have a young driver as part of the team," AFS owner Gary Petersen noted, "We can teach him the ropes, help him learn the ovals and be a big part of his development. He is a really good kid - I feel good about both drivers we have, and they should be good team-mates. Obviously, we have a lot to live up to after winning the championship, so expectations are going to be pretty high."