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Ready to Challenge in Season Opener

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Sebastian Saavedra, Stefan Wilson, Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Ready to Challenge in Season Opener

Andrew Herta
Bryan Herta Autosport
March 24, 2010

Pre-Race Notes
Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Round One – Firestone Indy Lights Series
Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida
Sunday, March 28 – 12:45 pm EST

The opening round of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Championship will take place this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The scenic 1.8-mile, 14-turn downtown circuit has quickly become a driver and fan favorite with its waterfront setting and challenging layout.

BHA team owners Bryan Herta and Steve Newey are eager to begin their second season of competition following a hectic but immensely productive off-season. The team moved to a new race shop in December, brought two new drivers into their stable with the signing of talents Stefan Wilson and Sebastian Saavedra, added key personnel, welcomed the William Rast brand as a full-season sponsor and announced their first foray into the IZOD IndyCar Series with a bid in the Indianapolis 500.

In addition to BHA, both Wilson and Saavedra made their Indy Lights debuts at St. Petersburg last year. The race marked the start of a partial season of competition for Wilson, who contested six races with the First Racing/Walker Racing team. He netted a best finish of fourth on the streets of Toronto. Saavedra began a full season of Indy Lights under the AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing umbrella garnering Rookie of the Year honors with two wins and seven podium finishes.

Of Note:
Wilson made his U.S. racing debut at St. Petersburg last year, claiming a best result of 13th in the Indy Lights double-header after falling out of the top 10 due to an on-track incident involving several cars
Saavedra qualified on pole for the second leg of the double-header at St. Petersburg last year and finished second
Key personnel hires at BHA include engineer Brian Page, son of veteran broadcaster Paul Page, who hails from Andretti Green Racing, and crew chief Don Lambert, who brings over 20 years of experience in open-wheel competition from Vision Racing, Fernandez Racing and Mo Nunn Racing amongst others

Stefan Wilson, #28 Forsythe Solutions Dallara/Firestone: “I am really looking forward to this weekend. I had a so-so race here last year. It was my first race and only my second day in the car after a shakedown test. I jumped in with a very steep learning curve but I felt we were competitive even straight out of the box. Unfortunately, I made a few unlucky mistakes that cost me some decent finishes. I am looking forward to coming back with a bit more experience and with a really competitive team in Bryan Herta Autosport. Our pre-season testing has gone well. The first time I drove the car I was impressed with how well it handled. I have gelled really well with the team and enjoy working with my engineer Brian Page. I am very excited to have Sebastian as a teammate. He brings a lot of experience with a full season of Indy Lights and I know that is going to help me. He knows what a good car feels like and what we want to achieve. It is great that he is entered in the Indy 500. It really strengthens the whole team. It will be exciting to be there and witness my team compete and, hopefully, it will give me a lot of experience as that is what I am striving to do next year. For now, I am looking forward to the race this weekend. This is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar and I am looking for a good finish here. I am confident we will be a really strong force to be reckoned with this season.”

Sebastian Saavedra, #29 William Rast Dallara/Firestone: “St. Petersburg is one of my favorite tracks, and I am very confident coming here for the second time after the good results last year. Testing has gone great. Our main objective was to get to know each other and start working together, for me to learn how Steve [Newey] works and for him to know how I work. I am very happy with how everything has come together. My relationship with Stefan is great. He is a very good driver who wants to win and that has helped us to have a very good relationship. We have been working well together to make the cars as good as possible. We found some very interesting things at our last test at Sebring which worked very well and will help us this weekend. I think we both will have cars capable of winning. We have the right tools, the right engineering and the right mentality to come to this first race.”

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