FITTIPALDI JOINS ANDRETTI GREEN, ACURA FOR 2008
Eager to jump into championship contention in the American Le Mans Series' LMP2 class in 2008, Andretti Green Racing has signed Christian Fittipaldi to fill out its full-season lineup in the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura. Fittipaldi, a member of another of racing's premier families, will team with Bryan Herta for the 12-round season.
Fittipaldi is the latest driver from Formula 1 to enter the American Le Mans Series, having made 40 starts from 1992-94 for Arrows and Minardi. He is the son of former Grand Prix driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi and the nephew of two-time F1 World Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.
Getting Andretti Green and Acura back on the top step of the P2 podium is Fittipaldi's top goal. The team scored a class win at Sebring this year and finished second overall in the American Le Mans Series debut for both AGR and Acura. Herta went on to finish seventh in the P2 championship with podium finishes at Houston and Mosport.
Fittipaldi also has a successful background in sports car racing, having competed the last two years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He piloted a Saleen S7R for ACEMCO Motorsports in 2006 to a fifth-place GT1 finish and drove an Aston Martin DBR9 for Team Modena this year. He also is a past champion at the Daytona 24 Hours and won the 1993 24 Hours of Spa.
Fittipaldi teamed with AGR chairman Michael Andretti to create a formidable duo at Newman/Haas Racing from 1996 through 2000. He also boasts experience in CART, NASCAR and Formula 3000. The 36-year old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, first competed in the United States in 1995 and finished second in the Indy 500 and was the race's rookie of the year. He teamed with Andretti in CART starting the following season and collected two CART victories (Road America in 1999 and Fontana in 2000) and finished a career-best fifth in the CART championship in 1996 and 2002.
Christian Fittipaldi, No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura: "I am definitely looking forward to this new challenge in my career. I was talking to Mike about how five or six years ago we were teammates and now he has a team and I am driving for him. It is going to be different for us, though, because when we were teammates we had to work together and at the same time there was that internal rivalry that you always have in a team. But now, we are 200 percent on the same side.
"I think 2008 is going to be a really good season for Andretti Green. I am very motivated to do everything I can to get XM and Acura back into the winner's circle."
Michael Andretti, Chairman, Andretti Green Racing: "When you're hiring a driver, you want to think that he is going to be fast. But, when you're hiring a driver that you used to race against and were teammates with, you know he is going to be fast. For sure, that is why we're excited to welcome Christian to the AGR XM Acura family. We need to go to the next level with our American Le Mans Series program in 2008 and we feel like this is a great step in that direction."
Preparations for the 2008 American Le Mans Series, its 10th season of world- class sports car racing, begin January 28-30 with the annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway. The 2008 season opens with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 15.