The Bryan Herta Autosports team has announced that it will not be making the overseas trip to next weekend’s São Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil, with the team blaming its lack of competitiveness – and possibly funding – for its impending absence.
It’s sole driver, last year’s Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Alex Tagliani, current lies well down the order in the championship standings, having only seen the chequered flag once in the opening three races.
With the IndyCar Series only providing freight funding to teams placed in the top-22 in the championship standings, the team elected to save itself the expense of the trip and gear its efforts towards May’s Indianapolis 500, which it won last year with the late Dan Wheldon at the wheel.
So far, the team has struggled to be competitive as it gets to grips with the new Dallara DW12 chassis and the lack of power, development and reliability from its new Lotus-badged engines.
Tagliani retired from the races at Alabama and Long Beach with engine issues, and along with its fellow Lotus runners, BHA was unable to take part in the only scheduled Pre-Indy 500 test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because Lotus could not supply enough engines for its teams in time for the test.
“[Our decision not to go] was a logical move after dropping back in points,” team owner Bryan Herta told the Associated Press.
“We will be back stronger for Indy and the rest of the season.”
The news is of little surprise to our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon, who told us: “These long-haul races are on borrowed time in terms of the amount of money the teams receive; they need a Bernie [Ecclestone] to squeeze out every cent [in their favour].”
The announcement means – unless other teams opt out of making the trip as well – that next weekend’s event will still feature a 26-car field, with the recent announcement that the Andretti Autosports outfit will field a fourth Chevrolet-powered car for local driver Ana Beatriz.
However, our resident IndyCar scribe is surprised that some of the other smaller one-car efforts – such as Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing – are still planning to go.
“I’m surprised small teams like Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (who probably wouldn’t go without Wink Hartman’s money) are going themselves,” he told us.
Tagliani and Herta will still attend the street circuit event next weekend to fulfil their commitments to their title sponsor Barracuda Networks.