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IndyCar Series adds Katherine Legge to 2012 lineup
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Katherine Legge is coming back to America with whole a new perspective on racing.
At age 31, the newest IndyCar rookie insists she’s older, wiser and no longer concerned about the continual comparisons to one-time rival Danica Patrick. She’s learned how to deal with backroom politics and understands she must follow her passion.
Yes, three years after returning to her native Europe for a disappointing job racing touring cars, Legge is ready to compete again in open-wheel cars.
“It’s the kind of tracks they race on, the street courses, the road courses, the ovals, the airport courses, it’s everything. You can test yourself in every way,” Legge said Monday after Dragon Racing announced she would drive the No. 6 TrueCar entry in 2012. “And, obviously, they have the Indy 500, which is a massive thing to me. I’ve wanted to do that since I was age 7. It’s real racing, it’s wheel-to-wheel, and I love being in America.”
The move had been rumored for more than a month, but the British native and her team couldn’t confirm anything until the final details were worked out.
Legge signed a two-year deal with a one-year option and will become a teammate of four-time Champ Car World Series winner Sebastien Bourdais for Jay Penske, son of record-setting IndyCar owner Roger Penske.
The timing couldn’t be better.
With Patrick wrapping up her final open-wheel season in October and now preparing for her first full season in Sprint Cup, Legge and Switzerland’s Simona de Silvestro are the only women drivers with full-time IndyCar deals in 2012.
But to Legge, this opportunity goes way beyond gender or personality.
“When the contract came up with Audi, I told them I was coming back over here to race IndyCars before I got too old because that’s where my heart is,” she said. “I worked really, really hard for them to give me and the other girls a chance in racing. It’s helped me with my racing, and I hope it enables me to help the other girls who are coming along.”
Not long ago, Legge was one of those rising stars.
In 2005, she became the first woman to win in Toyota Atlantics, taking three race titles that season, and emerged as the biggest threat to Patrick’s claim as the world’s top female driver.
Many thought then that the Legge-Patrick matchup could become the next big rivalry in a sport in need of publicity, but it never materialized.
While Patrick evolved into a major IndyCar star, Legge finished 16th in points as Champ Car rookie in 2006 and 15th in 2007.
After the two rival series merged in 2008, though, the first woman to lead a Champ Car race was suddenly unemployed.
By Tom Fitton
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