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After One, Barrichello Is Done In IndyCar Series

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, December 29 2012

Friends and 2012 teammates Rubens Barrichello and Tony Kanaan sit on the pit wall at Indy. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Rubens Barrichello’s tenure as an IZOD IndyCar Series driver will go into the open-wheel record books as one-and-done.

Barrichello, who spent last season with KV Racing Technology, confirmed this week that he will race in his native Brazil’s Stock Car V8 Series in 2013. Barrichello reportedly will drive a Peugeot for Full Time Sports with sponsorship from Medley, a pharmaceutical company.

“After 20-plus years representing Brazil racing all over the world, it is time to come home,” Barrichello said. “It will be amazing to race in my home country again, while allowing me to be closer to my family. I have much enthusiasm for what this perfect fit will bring.”

Barrichello, 40, exited Formula One after 19 years when he was dumped by Williams F1 after the 2011 season. At the behest of fellow-Brazilian and 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, Barrichello tested an Indy-car and opted to join the team co-owned by former CART champion Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven.

Viewed as a “personality” who would add international interest to the series following the departure of Danica Patrick to NASCAR, Barrichello experienced mixed results en route to a 12th-place points finish in his No. 8 BMC/Embrase Dallara/Chevrolet. Barrichello’s best finish was fourth on the road-course at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, while his best qualifying effort was third at The Milwaukee Mile.

Rubens Barrichello was named top rookie at Indy last season but will race in his native Brazil next season. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

Despite entering the season with no oval-track experience, Barrichello started 10th and finished 11th in the Indianapolis 500, earning Rookie of the Year honors while leading the first two laps of his INDYCAR career on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Barrichello finished the 15-event tour with two top-five and seven top-10s but only three laps-led. His average start was 12.8; his average finish was 12.7.

Barrichello had been linked to rides with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports during the offseason. But RLL signed Graham Rahal, 23, to join father Bobby’s organization beginning in 2013.

Meanwhile, reigning Firestone Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier, a 23-year-old Frenchman, impressed team-owner Sam Schmidt and team manager Rob Edwards during a test of the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda on Dec. 13 at Sebring International Raceway. Schmidt is scouting for a possible second car alongside Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, 28, INDYCAR’s 2012 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

Barrichello, unable to secure a second season of INDYCAR sponsorship, since has been replaced at KVRT by 24-year-old Simona De Silvestro of Switzerland, formerly of HVM Racing.

Barrichello’s F1 career featured 11 victories with Scuderia Ferrari, where he was teamed with seven-time World Driving Champion Michael Schumacher, and Brawn GP.

Brazil’s V8 series, which typically starts in March at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Barrichello’s native Sao Paulo, has attracted a number of Brazilian drivers with international resumes. The 2012 grid included former F1 regulars Antonio Pizzonia, Ricardo Zonta and Luciano Burti and former IndyCar/Champ Car drivers Vitor Meira, Max Wilson and Ricardo Sperafico. The series has seen recent guest appearances from IndyCar’s Helio Castroneves, Raphael Matos, Kanaan and Barrichello.

Third-generation racer Matthew Brabham has been signed by Andretti Autosport to drive the team’s No. 27 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires entry for the 2013 season. Brabham will be a series rookie after winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda last season and being named VP Rookie of the Year.

“I‘m so excited to be driving for the Andretti Autosport team in the 2013 Pro Mazda Championship,” said Brabham, 18. “It was fantastic to drive for the team at the Indy test and get a feel for how they operate. They are really professional and seem like a great bunch of guys to work with. The Pro Mazda had more power than the USF2000 car, so it was lots of fun to drive and gave me a good understanding of what to expect next season.”

The Brabham Family racing pedigree dates to the 1950s, starting with Matthew’s grandfather, Sir Jack Brabham, who left his native Australia for open-wheel racing competition in Europe. Sir Jack went on to become a three-time Formula One World Driving Champion. He also is credited with starting the rear engine revolution at the Indianapolis 500 in 1961 in a Cooper/Climax.

Matthew Brabham’s father, Geoff Brabham, followed in his father’s footsteps and successfully competed in CART early in his career, where he was a teammate with Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti. Geoff Brabham recorded 10 Indianapolis 500 starts, with a best result of fourth in 1983.

“I think it’s really cool to have the Andretti and Brabham names come together with Matthew joining the Andretti Autosport team,” Geoff Brabham said. “Both his grandfather, Sir Jack, and Mario are Formula One World Champions. Mario, Michael and I drove against each other for many years in Indy-cars. Now Matthew has a chance to forge his own career. Having the history and heritage of both families behind him can only be positive, not only on the racetrack but also giving potential sponsors a very unique combination.”

Matthew Brabham will join IndyCar Series regular Marco Andretti, 25, as a third-generation teammate.

Brabham finished the 2012 USF2000 season with 11 podiums, including four wins. He also posted six poles and eight fastest race laps. Brabham started racing karts in Gold Coast, Australia, in the Australian Midget class at age 7. In 2009, he switched from karts in order to compete in the Australian Formula Ford championship. Before joining USF2000 in 2012, the Florida resident competed in the Victorian State Series and ran a limited schedule in the Australian National Championship.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, December 29 2012
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