By Nancy Knapp Schilke
Money is the reason that Brazilian racer Tony Kanaan is not going to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year. Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion (Andretti Green Racing) is now idle for 2011 and so is de Ferran Dragon Racing.
On December 21, 2010, it appeared that the former driver for the Andretti Autosport team was secured by de Ferran Motorsports when co-team owner Gil de Ferran was pleased to announce his fellow countryman and former rival in the former CART series.
At the time of the signing of Kanaan, de Ferran remarked: "This is a great signing and a major coup for de Ferran Dragon Racing," said de Ferran. "It is fantastic that we have Tony on board; he is a proven Champion and brings with him a great record of successes on the track."
Unfortunately the entire deal was based on financial means and sponsors on both sides. Today in the team's official press release, de Ferran said with regret: "This is a very difficult announcement for us to make. When Tony and I put the deal together we both knew that it had to make financial sense and we set ourselves certain targets.
"We believed that together we were a strong proposition both on and off the track and really felt we could have become a major force in the championship in 2011 and beyond," added the 2000, '01 CART champion de Ferran.
Both de Ferran and Kanaan have contested the Indianapolis 500 -- de Ferran won with Team Penske in 2003 -- and both have competed in the American Le Mans Series.
Kanaan is not giving up and hopes to yet land a ride this year as he said, "Gil and I have decided to go our separate ways. I wish both him and his team all the best but unfortunately we couldn't find the required funding for the season. For sure it wasn't through lack of effort. For me personally I am determined to race in the Izod IndyCar Series this year and I am going to continue to do everything in my power to secure the best opportunity for 2011."
At this time, de Ferran Dragon Racing is unsure of their future: "Despite our collective best efforts we have not been able to secure the sponsorship funds to go any further. Regarding the future of our team, at this point we are unclear of our plans; nevertheless it is unlikely that we will participate in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank our staff, sponsors, Tony, friends and supporters for the tremendous efforts in trying to make our program successful," added de Ferran.