When Wayne Taylor Racing announced Rubens Barrichello as a fourth driver in its Konica Minolta-backed No. 10 Corvette DP on Tuesday, it came as something of a shock.
But while Barrichello, 43, has been pressed into action for the Rolex 24 at Daytona on race week, the conversations have actually gone on for more than a month.
Barrichello and Max Angelelli are longtime friends, and raced with each other going back to the early 1990s in Formula 3 competition.
Meanwhile Barrichello met brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor for the first time on Wednesday, as he got seated and inserted into the Corvette DP.
“Every time you sign for something, you always think you have a chance to win,” Barrichello told Sportscar365, as he prepares to make his third Rolex 24 start.
Frankly, it’s his best shot by a country mile.
Paired with another longtime friend, Tony Kanaan, the two were part of an all-Brazilian five-driver lineup in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car that struggled in the last Rolex 24 under the GRAND-AM Rolex Series banner in 2013. They failed to finish.
Last year, in a similarly intriguing one-off entry, Barrichello shared the No. 7 Starworks Motorsport Riley-BMW with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Brendon Hartley, Tor Graves and Scott Mayer. But engine woes took them out of the race.
With the Taylor brothers and Angelelli in a tried-and-true package, with the Dallara chassis, Barrichello noted how much different the situation is, even despite it being last minute.
“When I was here in the Brazilian Porsche it was disastrous; they weren’t ready at all,” he said. “But we learned the track, and learned the race.
“Last year with Starworks it was something very cool that might have happened. But it was a late call there.
“For me to jump into a competitive car, I just hope I can contribute to be able to get to victory lane.”
While this will mark Barrichello’s first start in a Corvette DP, it won’t be his first in a Dallara. He finished fifth in the 2013 GRAND-AM race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Doran Racing, in a Dallara-Ford.
“I had a fifth place finish with Doran and that was the most pleasure I had with this car,” he said. “I was able to drive and push to the limit.
“I have a little bit of experience on this car. It’s not to the experience of my teammates, but all my experience might help.”
In terms of experience, Barrichello is one of the most experienced all-time in Formula 1 with more than 300 career Grand Prix starts, and he also ran the full IndyCar schedule in 2012.