PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Lewandowski/INDYCAR.
The most experienced driver in Formula One history has officially jumped to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Today in Brazil, it was confirmed that Rubens Barrichello, winner of 11 Grand Prix events over 19 seasons, will drive the No. 8 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, while 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan has signed a two-year deal with the team. Kanaan joined KVRT in the final days before the 2011 season opener, but went on to claim fifth place in the championship.
Here are the official releases from both INDYCAR and KVRT:
INDIANAPOLIS (March 1, 2012) — KV Racing Technology announced today that Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello will compete in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series as the driver of the No. 8 BMC | Embrase – KV Racing Technology car.
Barrichello, 39, whose Formula One career spanned from 1993-2011, is the most experienced driver in F1 history with 322 starts. He was runner-up in the Formula One championship in 2002 and 2004, and earned 11 victories, 14 pole podiums, 68 podiums performances, 106 top-five finishes and172 top-10 showings.
Now Barrichello will embark on a new chapter in his racing career.
“I am thrilled, it is something very new to me,” said Barrichello, who has tested the new Dallara car powered by Chevrolet at Sebring International Raceway and Infineon Raceway in the past month. “I need to thank everyone involved, especially (new teammate) Tony (Kanaan) because he has been involved for a long time. I would also like to thank my sponsors, BMC, Embrase and Locaweb for their help. This is a new experience, but I am very happy. With all my experience I will start as a rookie, but I think I will get better as the year progresses.
“My main thing is to be an addition to KV Racing Technology. They have been doing very well and Tony brought the team to a different level last year, so I hope with my contribution we can build on this and take the team to another level. I am extremely happy and have a big smile on my face.”
KV Racing Technology also formally announced that Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, has signed a two-year deal. Kanaan, who joined the team days before the 2011 season opener, finished fifth in the series championship standings. He holds the IZOD IndyCar Series record for consecutive starts (148), which is ongoing.
“We are very excited to have both Rubens and Tony competing for our team in 2012,” team co-owner Jimmy Vasser said. “Rubens is going to be a great addition and last year Tony once again demonstrated his leadership abilities and his proven ability to compete for wins and the championship. The addition of Rubens and the return of Tony along with E.J. (Viso) gives KVRT a very strong driver lineup and one I am sure can compete for podium finishes and race wins.”
Kanaan, 37, and Barrichello are countrymen and longtime friends. It was at Kanaan’s invitation that Barrichello tested the next-generation IZOD IndyCar Series car at Sebring.
“I am very excited to be returning to KV Racing Technology not only with a two-year deal but also to have Rubens Barrichello as my teammate,” Kanaan said. “We have always dreamed about racing together but never imagined it would actually happen and certainly not in the near future or in IndyCars.
“I have a guy who has 19 years of experience in Formula One; one of the best drivers I’ve ever seen as a teammate that I can learn a lot and he can learn a lot from me racing on the ovals in the series. For the series it’s huge.
“We’re getting a guy who has the most grand prix races completed in history. For him, he is in a series where he can win races and not be just part of a field because the equipment is not capable of winning. So I am looking forward to the start of the season. I think it’s going to be a very exciting year.”
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard agreed.
“It’s an exciting day for the IZOD IndyCar Series and a positive step to start 2012,” Bernard said. “We’ve said all along that one of the most important factors that will make the IZOD IndyCar Series successful is having the best drivers in the world, and there’s not a person in the world who knows racing that wouldn’t tell you that Rubens Barrichello is one of the greatest drivers of all time. I think it’s been interesting to hear the response of the other drivers. It’s been ‘This is great for us because it will show how good all of our drivers are.’
“That, to me, is important because the best in the IZOD IndyCar Series are saying ‘Bring him on. We want this guy.’ That will create great competition and expands our international platform. There will be millions of fans that will want to see what Barrichello can do. The other factor, which we saw last weekend at Infineon Raceway as he talked with fans attending the Chevy test, is that he’s such a great guy. That will resonate with our fans.”
Four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, who first crossed paths with Barrichello in 1987 in European karting competition, said Barrichello increases the depth of the field competing on the most diverse set of racetracks in motorsports.
“It’s only a positive. He ups the level of competition in the field yet again,” said Franchitti, who will join 25 other IZOD IndyCar Series drivers for an Open Test next week at Sebring International Raceway. “Besides the guys we know already who are tough to beat, he’d add another major name to have to fight against.”
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – MARCH 1, 2012 — KV Racing Technology announced today that Formula One legend Rubens Barrichello and IZOD IndyCar superstar Tony Kanaan, who often refer to themselves as “brothers”, will both contest the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season for the team.
Barrichello will pilot the No. 8 BMC | Embrase – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine. Kanaan will drive the #11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV Racing Technology car for 10 races, the MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO KV Racing Chevrolet/Firestone entry at four and the ITAIPAVA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine at Brazil. GEICO and MOUSER ELECTRONICS will be co-primary sponsors at the Indy 500. Barrichello and Kanaan join E. J. Viso, #5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone, in a three-car effort for the team in 2012.
“I was at Sebring when Rubens first got into an Indy car. The smile when he got out of the car was a great moment and lasted for three days. Rubens ended up the fastest at the end of the test, showing the speed he is capable of and his experience setting up a car. Teamed with his “brother” Tony Kanaan this is going to be an exciting and successful season for the drivers, the team and the fans,” said KVRT co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. “
Jimmy Vasser, the V in KVRT said. “We are very excited to have both Rubens (Barrichello) and Tony (Kanaan) competing for our team in 2012. Rubens is going to be a great addition and last year Tony, once again demonstrated his leadership abilities and his proven ability to compete for wins and the championship. The addition of Rubens and the return of Tony along with E.J. (Viso), gives KVRT a very strong driver line-up and one I am sure can compete for podium finishes and race wins. I would also like to thank all the sponsors for making this deal possible and KVRT General Manager Mark Johnson for his tireless work getting all the parties together.”
Barrichello, whose Formula One career spanned 19-years (1993 – 2011), is the most experienced driver in Formula One history with 322 starts out of 326 races entered. The 39-year-old native of Brazil was the runner-up in the Formula One championship in 2002 and 2004. He has earned 11 victories, 14 pole podiums, 68 podiums performances, 106 top-five finishes and172 top-10 showings. Barrichello, despite his vast racing experience, will now become a rookie in the IZOD IndyCar Series, entering his first season in U.S. based open-wheel competition and starting a new chapter in his career.
“I am thrilled, it is something very new to me,” Barrichello said. “I need to thank everyone involved, especially Tony because he has been involved for a long time. I would also like to thank my sponsors, BMC, Embrase and Locaweb for their help. This is a new experience, but I am very very happy. With all my experience I will start as a rookie, but I think I will get better as the year progresses. My main thing is to be an addition to KV Racing Technology. They have been doing very well and Tony brought the team to a different level last year, so I hope with my contribution we can build on this and take the team to another level. I am extremely happy and have a big smile on my face.”
Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion, will contest his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season, 11th in the IndyCar Series (ran one race, the Indy 500 in 2002) and second with KVRT. One of the most consistent and fearless drivers in the Series, Kanaan is a perennial title threat. The 37-year-old Brazilian, who finished fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship in 2011, has placed in the top-six in the championship every year he has run the full IndyCar season, a total of nine consecutive seasons. Kanaan, who holds the IndyCar Series record for consecutive starts at 148, has made a total of 149 IndyCar starts (242 career) earning 14 victories (15 career), 52 podiums (58 career), 85 top-five top-five finishes (101 career) and 111 top-10 showings (160 career) with 11 poles (15 career).
“I am very excited to be returning to KV Racing Technology not only with a two year deal but also to have Rubens Barrichello as my team mate,” Kanaan said. “We have always dreamed about racing together but never imagined it would actually happen and certainly not in the near future or in IndyCars. So I am looking forward to the start of the season, I think its going to be a very exciting year.”
General Manager Mark Johnson commenting on the addition of Barrichello and Kanaan to the KVRT stable said, “Speaking for the entire KV Racing Technology organization this is truly an exciting time for all of us. The saying ‘Good Things Come to Those That Wait’ could not be truer. With Rubens addition to the team being just slightly more timely than Tony’s situation last year we are ecstatic we could get the deal put together for all of us. Just as it happened last year Kevin, Jimmy, myself and Rubens (with extensive encouragement from Tony) shook hands and said lets make this happen after the initial Sebring test. Every individual involved has given 150% effort over the last two weeks to insure we were able to push the deal over the finish line. I believe as a team we are very well positioned entering the 2012 IndyCar season.”
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins March 23-25 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida.