Monday, December 20, 2010

Early Christmas Gift for Tony Kanaan; Ride with de Ferran Dragon Racing

Photo Credit: de Ferran Dragon Racing

Ahead of Christmas and the 2011 new year, 2004 IndyCar champion Tony Kanaan heads into both celebrations knowing his racing career is more secure. Alongside fellow Brazilian Gil de Ferran, Kanaan sat at a press conference announcing he will be driving the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series tour for de Ferran Dragon Racing. Often an infectiously cheerful and happy presence in the IZOD IndyCar paddocks throughout the tour, Tony Kanaan said early in the press announcement  that "Christmas came early for me this year. I want to call Gil Santa because he has that much white hair and that big belly (laughter)."

Surging back into victory lane at Iowa Speedway, Tony Kanaan's productive 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series campaign resulted with a 6th place in overall series points and 4th in the Mario Andretti oval championship trophy. Despite having signed a five-year extension with Andretti Autosport in 2008, the withdraw of team partnership 7-Eleven from primary sponsorship has led the team to release their long-time driver shortly after the end of the 2010 season. Departing a four-car operation, Kanaan's 2011 IZOD IndyCar team is a considerably more humble team. "Obviously it has been eight, almost nine years with a big team. So it took me a little bit to get used to it. But in a funny way, I think it's great. It's a big challenge for both of us." Tony Kanaan said. Extremely confident on the team, Kanaan candidly commented "Obviously, as you guys knew, I was negotiating with a few other teams at the time. But I was honest with Gil, he was honest with me, and we started to talk. I was on vacation doing my tryouts. I did the test and it went really well. I really liked the people I saw what I wanted for me as far as a race team. From that point on, it made it much easier for me to make my decision."

Talking about the his team young in the development process, de Ferran Dragon Racing's co-owner describes the hiring of Tony Kanaan saying “This is a great signing and a major coup for de Ferran Dragon Racing,". de Ferran adds "...he is a proven Champion and brings with him a great record of successes on the track."

Planning to remain a single-car operation at this time, two-year IZOD IndyCar Series talent Raphael Matos appears to be looking elsewhere. However, since Gil de Ferran stoked the fires of IndyCar Series team ownership in 2009, he had indicated an indication to run a full-time two-car team. With three months before the St Petersburg season opener for the open wheel series, Matos' time with de Ferran Dragon Racing may not be over. 

Rumours of a second car for Davey Hamilton (who drove for the team on a limited basis last year) could result for 2011. de Ferran Dragon Racing's Gil de Ferran would not provide any details other plans for the team or even sponsorship package of Tony Kanaan's upcoming season's effort.

Besides Christmas and the new year, the de Ferran Dragon Racing announcement also comes ahead of Tony Kanaan's birthday on December 31st.

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