As we head into the coming race weekend on the Streets of Toronto, we have a few driver announcements. Two new drivers from the Formula 3 ranks and a change of team by a third. While this still doesn’t swell the ranks beyond the low- to mid-teens, its better than nothing. Right now the Firestone Indy Lights Series is in a bit of crisis with the specter of inequity haunting it, rightly or wrongly, and car counts barely making it into the double-digits. Seeing new drivers come to the series is a positive sign. Let’s take a look at these two newcomers and Peter Dempsey’s positive story.
Bruno Andrade Joins Duarte Ferreira at Bryan Herta Autosport
Bruno had a fantastic 2010 season in the South American Formula 3 Series and how is looking to join Angolan, Duarte Ferreira, at Bryan Herta Autosport in the #29 machine. Bruno scored five wins, three poles, and sixteen podiums on his way to a second-place finish in the championship. Bryan Herta Autosport and their driver, Duarte, have not had the strongest of seasons, suffering a string of three DNFs beginning at Long Beach, but they’re gaining momentum. The team had their best finish of the season at Iowa, scoring their first top-five, with Duarte being very racy and competitive. Bruno will compete in five of the final seven events starting in Toronto, omitting the 1.5-mile ovals of Kentucky and Las Vegas, I suspect. All of this, as Bryan Herta stated in an article on IndyCar.com, is to set the groundwork for a full-time effort by Andrade in 2012.
“I’m very happy and very proud to be part of BHA. This is a big step in my career and I’m really looking forward to the competition. We did some testing recently and I felt very comfortable. My times were competitive and the car felt very fast. I feel I’m now prepared in every way to do my best at Toronto.” — Bruno Andrade, #29 Bryan Herta Autosport
Peter Dempsey Lands on His Feet at Andretti Autosport
After having a great start to the season with O2 Racing Technology, Peter’s season came to a screeching halt as his team withdrew from the Firestone Indy Lights Championship beginning with the David Hobbs 100 in Milwaukee. The team and team owner, Mark Olsen, were subsequently suspended for the duration of 2011 and all of 2012 in a “you can’t quit because you’re fired” type of move. Fortunately for Peter, he was able to land on his feet with and joins Stefan Wilson at Andretti Autosport where he has a one-race deal for Toronto. That arrangement may grow in the near future depending upon sponsorship. In the meantime, its good to see Peter in a race car once again.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back on track. I’m grateful for this opportunity at Andretti Autosport, and I’ll be working hard to put out a good result in Toronto. It’s been a great experience just prepping with the team for this weekend, so I know it can only get better from here. I would like to thank my supporters Motorsport Ireland and Microbiology International for their continued support this season.” — Peter Dempsey, #26 Andretti Autosport
Oliver Webb Joins Canadian David Ostella at Jensen MotorSport
Beginning with the double-header at Edmonton City Centre Airport, British Formula 3 stand-out Oliver Webb will join Jensen MotorSport to drive the #12 machine along side the #16 of Jensen’s full-time driver Canadian David Ostella. Although Oliver has struggled in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this year, it should be noted that his teammates have not had much success this year, either. Last year, he had a very strong season in the British Formula 3 series scoring three wins, four poles, and 13 podiums during the 30-race season and finished third in the championship. While Jensen MotorSport doesn’t have the fastest machines in Firestone Indy Lights this year, they’re far from having the slowest, and Oliver should fare pretty well.
“Many British drivers including 2011 Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon and 3-time IndyCar series champion Dario Franchitti have enjoyed terrific success by transitioning their careers to North American racing. While still planning to continue my racing career in Europe this summer, I am excited to have been given this excellent opportunity to join the Firestone Indy Lights grid with view to possibly competing full-time in the USA in 2012 and beyond.” — Oliver Webb, #12 Jensen MotorSport