Tony Kanaan's off-season of discontent is over. The 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion will contest the 2011 season in the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology -Lotus car.
The No. 82 is in honor of the 1965 Indianapolis 500-winning Lotus driven by Jim Clark. Kanaan will get in some laps on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course March 22 in advance of the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend.
"(Team co-owner) Jimmy (Vasser) and I started talking about joining forces at the end of last season, but the timing was not ideal and I ended up signing with Gil (de Ferran)," Kanaan said. "When I became a free agent in mid-February, calling Vasser seemed like a natural thing to do since KVRT was one of the top teams still looking for a driver. Jimmy and I go back a long way, we were rivals during the CART days, but more than that we have always been good friends, which helped a lot with our negotiations.
"I'm thrilled that we reached an agreement and from the bottom of my heart I'd like to thank KV Racing Technology - Lotus for the opportunity they have given me and especially for taking me under the circumstances I found myself in."
After eight seasons with Andretti Autosport, Kanaan left the organization when primary funding for the No. 11 entry dissipated. He signed with de Ferran Dragon Racing, but that team ceased operations when proper funding didn't materialize by an internal deadline. Kanaan has been attempting to uncover sponsorship since late last year.
"KVRT - Lotus is one of the most successful teams that joined IndyCar from Champ Car and I can't wait to sit in the legendary Lotus No. 82 car and start working with the crew," Kanaan continued. "I've spent the last six months looking for sponsorship and not thinking about racing. so I missed all the pre-season testing. But I really can't complain. With a group of guys like Vasser and his team backing me, plus the help of my new teammates, Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso, the only thing I can say is that I'm ready to do what I do best, drive a race car and push hard to give KVRT - Lotus their first IndyCar win.
"I want to thank GEICO for their help in making it possible for me to join KVRT - Lotus. I would also like to thank all of my fans and supporters that stuck with me during this extra long off-season and invite them to stay tuned on the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series. I can assure you it will be a very exciting one. I can't forget to mention that my son Leo is very thankful that I kept my car green, he was having a hard time accepting any other color."
Kanaan, 36, of Brazil, enters his 14th season of major U.S. open-wheel competition and ninth full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. In 132 starts, he has earned 102 top-10 finishes (including 14 victories) and 10 pole starts.
"I think Tony is a great addition to our team," Vasser said. "Tony's knowledge and experience will be extremely valuable to our team. I would also like to thank GEICO for their support and KVRT - Lotus general manager Mark Johnson for his tireless work getting all the parties together."