Simona De Silvestro QA
March 2, 2010 | 6:51 P.M. EST
About Simona De Silvestro
· 21-year-old native of Thun, Switzerland will compete as a rookie in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
· Will drive the No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car.
· Won five times in the Atlantic Championship, including four wins in 2009 when she finished third in series point standings.
About Keith Wiggins
Wiggins, a former driver, joined Lola Cars in 1998, serving as vice president and then president of Lola Cars International Inc. in America. Wiggins joined Bettenhausen Motorsports in mid-2000 as managing director and part-owner.Wiggins purchased Bettenhausen Motorsports in 2001, renaming it Herdez Competition (2001-03) and then HVM Racing (2004-05) as it competed in Champ Car. Mario Dominguez and Michel Jourdain Jr. of Mexico as well as Brazil's Roberto Moreno all drove under the Herdez banner.
Q. Imran, welcome to the IZOD IndyCar Series. Can you talk about how the partnership with Keith Wiggins and HVM Racing came together for Team Stargate Worlds?
IMRAN SAFIULLA: Keith and I have known each other for many years and with Simona's evolution through the system, this was sort of the next logical step for us to get into the IZOD IndyCar Series. And Keith was probably the top of the step with the spectrum of creating an environment which Simona could be successful in and be able to sort of continue to mature our commercial program that we've worked very hard in trying to put together.
So it was just sort of an obvious fit. And we started talking about it a few months ago, and there's been a lot of stuff behind the scenes. But until we got out on track in December, I don't think most people didn't know what we were up to, and we still have our challenges ahead. But here we are, and hopefully it's going to bring successful times ahead.
Q. Keith, HVM Racing has been in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the last couple of seasons. And you have a history of giving young drivers from Junior Formula their start in top‑level racing. How excited are you to give your driver with the credentials like Simona her start in the IZOD IndyCar Series?
KEITH WIGGINS: She's looking at me so what can I say (laughing). No, I've always been much in favor in Europe for picking young drivers who have excitement, talent, and drive to do it. Bringing on new talent is always exciting. Of course you want some continuity, and the longer you can do a program with consistency with the drivers you inevitably can build a strong program.
But we've had an opportunity here. And as Imran said, we've known each other for a while and we've watched (Simona) progress. And they've done a great job together both in developing what she's done and also the program they've put together.
Having said all of that, of course, we always want to be as competitive as we can. So I think the key for me was when we tested and the first day we tested. The first 10 minutes we tested it was clear that I could see she instantly had the confidence and the speed.
So, like as she said, she's new to it. We came in with a new driver a couple of years ago and we've had our challenges, so we're all going to do better. Of course there is a climb to do together. But I think the thing is we're excited. She has the right attitude, and we're looking forward to the challenge.
Q. What are your realistic goals the first couple of races?
SIMONA De SILVESTRO: For me, everything is new. The races are much longer. I think the goal for me for this season is to learn as much as I can and try to help the team. I think my speed is getting there, but I am really working towards having good results at the end.
Q. I think the last Swiss driver in Indy car racing was Joel Camathias, and he had been racing over here for two years and living over here. Do you see any more interest over there? What do you hear from back home about your career?
SIMONA De SILVESTRO: I actually came here to the U.S. in 2006 to race in Formula BMW. I think a lot of people are watching now because I'm kind of the second driver who is in a big series right now next to Sebastien Buemi who is in Formula 1. So I think it's turning some attention. And I'm sure if we have good results it's going to get even bigger.
Q. The obvious question to me is you don't have experience on ovals. How are you going to approach that?
SIMONA De SILVESTRO: HVM wanted to give me the opportunity to do my first laps in an Indy Lights car three weeks ago. It was a good experience. I don't have any real goals for it for me. I think it's going to be finish the races and to learn as much as I can. I'm actually really looking forward to it because I had a lot of fun in the Indy Lights car, so I can't wait to get out with the big car.