Belardi Auto Racing hires Venezuelan Jorge Goncalves
Belardi Auto Racing has signed Venezuelan Jorge Goncalvez to compete in the Firestone Indy Lights in 2011.
The 19-year-old from Los Teques, Venezuela, finished fourth in the Star Mazda Championship in 2010, scoring five second-place finishes and 10 Top 10s. Goncalvez will be driving the team’s No. 4 car entry while teammate Anders Krohn will be in the No. 9.
“I am very pleased to have this opportunity to move up to Firestone Indy Lights,” Goncalvez said. “I know this will be a big challenge for me, but I am confident that with the support of the talented crew around me that I will do my countrymen proud. I’m really looking forward to the season and to working with all the guys at Belardi and to being a part of the Firestone Indy Lights series…to compete with so many great drivers at such incredible venues.”
Goncalvez competed in the Formula BMW Americas series (2008), the French Formula Renault Series (2007), and the Renault French 1600cc in the Pan-Am GP Series (2006). In preparation for his international racing, he raced karts to many national championships in his home country.
Goncalvez and the team recently completed two test-outings in preparation for the season alongside Krohn. Also joining the team will be his long time driver coach Rod MacLeod and Engineer Louis D’Agostino.
“It’s all about continuity,” said Team Owner Brian Belardi. “It’s continuity that wins championships – so we’ve worked hard at surrounding our drivers with people that they already have a short-hand with, a confidence… Like Rod and Louis for Jorge and Mike Reggio and Larry Nash for Anders. I think this will be the key to helping these drivers find success in their first year in Firestone Indy Lights.”
Goncalvez is known for a fierce little chicken painted on the back of his helmet with the words, “El Pollito” – his nickname, which translates from Spanish to be “Little Chicken.” But certainly has nothing to do with his courage on the track. Goncalvez’s father is the “Big Chicken” in Venezuela and the owner of one of the country’s largest poultry operations.