Saturday, 22 January 2011

Ana Beatriz "Bia" Figueiredo


As “Ana Beatriz”, Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz Caselato Gomes de Figueiredo began racing in the Indy Racing League for the Dreyer & Reinbold team in 2010. Initially, she drove in the São Paulo and Indianapolis rounds. She was thirteenth in Brazil, and retired from the Indy 500, after becoming involved in a serious accident to her team-mate, Mike Conway. However, since the crash happened on the last lap, she was still classified 21st. Later, she entered the Chicagoland and Homestead races, but retired from both.

Prior to this, she had mostly raced in South America, using the name Bia Figueiredo. Her American adventure began when she competed in Indy Lights in 2008. She was third in the championship, with one win at Nashville and five more podium places. This won her the Tony Renna Award, and a strong following.

The next year, she stayed in Indy Lights, still with the Sam Schmidt Motorsport team. She managed another win, at Iowa, and a third at Kentucky, alongside a string of other top five places. She was eighth this time, after missing the last round due to a lack of finances, and sitting out one race earlier in the season after a car-destroying accident.

Her South American racing experience began in 2003, when she entered her first Formula Renault championship in Brazil. It was here that she began working with the Césario team. She was a decent eleventh in her first season, with three podium places. In addition to this, she was voted Rookie of the Year.

In 2004, she combined Formula Renault with a few outings in Sudam Formula 3. A more experienced Bia visited the top three on nine occasions, and finished the Formula Renault season in fifth. On the F3 side, she did not disgrace herself, and was runner-up in the Light class.

Her first win came in 2005, in Formula Renault. It was one of three she achieved that year, alongside twelve podium places. This gave her third overall in a competitive championship. It was now time to move on to higher things.

In 2006, still driving for Césario, she was fifth overall in Sudam Formula Three, with four second places and one third. It was a good full debut season.

Between then and her move to the States, she was linked with an A1 GP drive for her native Brazil, although she never actually drove the car in anger. Her quiet 2007 season included some A1 GP testing, and this was continued in 2009.

In 2011, she was retained by Dreyer & Reinbold for almost the whole Indy season. She was not one of the fastest on the grid, and had a best finish of eleventh, at Toronto, but she generally avoided the spectacular accidents with which she had become associated. Sadly, she did not finish her home race at São Paulo, but she got to the end of the Indy 500, in 21st position. She was 21st in the championship.


In 2012, she raced again in Indycars. Andretti Racing offered her a part-season, which consisted of São Paulo and Indianapolis. She was 20th in São Paulo and 23rd in the Indy 500.

Driving for Dale Coyne's team in 2013, she had a bigger racing schedule, seven races this time, in the first half of the season. The first two ended in DNFs. These were followed by fourteenth at Long Beach, her best result. Unfortuantely, she did not finish at São Paulo either, although she came back at the Indianapolis 500 and was 15th, from 29th on the grid. Her other races, later on, at Milwaukee and Iowa, gave her a 19th and another DNF. She was 29th overall.  


There was no Indy racing for her in 2014. She moved back to Brazil, and got herself a deal to race in Stock Car, with the Pro GP team. Her car was a Chevrolet Sonic. This was a tough year for Ana Beatriz, who had not driven a saloon or stock car before. The rest of the grid was very impressive, including former Formula One drivers, Rubens Barrichello, Ricardo Zonta and Luciano Burti. Ana's finishing record was quite good, but she did not break into the top ten, having a best finish of eleventh, at Gioânia. Mostly, she managed to get into the lower reaches of the top twenty. She was 32nd overall, five places below her Pro GP team-mate, Rafael Suzuki. 


A second season in Stock Car in 2015 gave her a first top ten finish, a tenth place at Curitiba. Her season was affected by a high rate of non-finishes, and she was 32nd overall. Her car was a Peugeot 408. She also drove a Toyota Corolla in one round of the Copa de Marcas, at Interlagos, and was thirteenth. 

She raced the Peugeot again in the 2016 Stock Car series, and overcame some of her difficulties from 2015. Her finishing result was much improved, and she achieved her first top ten finish, a sixth place at Tarumã. This was one of two; she was tenth later in the season, at Curvelo, and was 25th in the championship.

(Image from http://lucyvanderblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010_08_01_archive.html)

1 comment:

  1. Great to see Bia joining the ranks of talented Brazilians abroad wishing her all the best in 2011 :-)

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