Andretti Autosport confirmed Thursday it has will field an additional car in cooperation with Conquest Racing for Brazilian Ana Beatriz for the upcoming IZOD IndyCar Series race in Sao Paulo and for the Indianapolis 500. Such a deal had been speculated about Beatriz tested for the team at Sebring last month.
Beatriz will race for Andretti Autosport in her hometown event, the Sao Paulo Indy 300 (April 27-29), and then attempt to make her third Indianapolis 500 start in May in a Chevrolet-powered No. 25 entry, with Andretti's team listed as a co-entrant with operational support from Conquest Racing. Eric Bachelart's squad has been not taken part in IndyCar this season, although it is running ALMS with a Morgan-Judd prototype.
"We are very happy to be partnering with Andretti Autosport in this project," said Bachelart. "They are a top organization and we look forward to developing a successful relationship with them. Our team has had a lot of momentum recently and this is a program that fits in very well with everything we are doing in other series.
“This will be a historic year for the 500 with all new cars and it gives us a great opportunity to fight for a top spot with Ana in the car.”
Beatriz's car will be sponsored by Ipiranga, one of Brazil's top petroleum and convenience retail companies. The 27-year-old Beatriz will drive the team's fifth entry at Indianapolis, as Sebastian Saavedra will be the team's fourth driver in an AFS Racing co-entry.
"Driving for Andretti Autosport is the biggest opportunity I've had in IndyCar and my career," said Beatriz. "I am very honored to be part of Michael's team for Brazil and the Indy 500. I would like to thank my management team, Andre Ribeiro and Augusto Cesario, for putting this deal together with Michael, John (Lopes) and JF (Thormann). Also I am very happy to have Ipiranga supporting me again for these races and Andretti couldn't be a better fit. I am very much looking forward to working with the team, Marco (Andretti), James (Hinchcliffe) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay)."
Beatriz has 20 previous starts in the IZOD IndyCar Series, with a career-best finish of 11th at Toronto in 2011. She made her first IndyCar start in 2010 at the São Paolo race. She is the first Brazilian woman to start in the Indianapolis 500, where she has twice finished 21st.
"Bia" came up through the Brazilian karting and open-wheel ranks before she entered Firestone Indy Lights in 2008. She was the first woman to win in the series with a victory at Nashville in 2008, and she followed-up with a second oval win at Iowa in 2009.
"I've been watching Bia for a few years. She was very strong in Firestone Indy Lights, and I was impressed by the pace she showed there," said Michael Andretti. "This opportunity is a good fit for us as a team. Brazil is an important, growing market for many of our sponsors, so to have a Brazilian driver and Ipiranga come aboard with us made a lot of sense. This opportunity came to us late, so we are grateful for the operational support provided by Conquest Racing."