Brazil’s Bia Figueiredo (pictured at right, above) will make her return to racing with Team Hardpoint EBM in the No. 88 Porsche 911 GT3 R she’ll share with Katherine Legge (middle) and Christina Nielsen (left).
The move reunites the three women who drove together at multiple IMSA rounds in 2019 with the Meyer Shank Racing-led Heinricher Racing Acura NSX GT3 program. In signing to race at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the former NTT IndyCar Series driver is hoping to break free from the negativity that upended her life in 2020.
According to a complaint filed by the Brazilian state, she was alleged to have taken part in an embezzlement scheme created by her husband and father-in-law. As the investigation gained momentum, Figueiredo says she was cleared of any wrongdoing by the authorities, and is ready to restart her career with Legge and Nielsen in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in a one-off at Sebring driving the Richard Mille-sponsored Porsche.
“It was a really tough year, but I had a positive point in my life with son being born while going through a really tough personal situation,” she told RACER. “It was the fact of my whole life. I’m not part of this thing that happened, and I was always part of doing good things. Now I’m waiting for my family to receive justice, and now it’s time to start racing again as a mother and a driver. The experience in IMSA in 2019 was among the best in my career.”
A document supplied to RACER, and Team Hardpoint EBM owner/driver Rob Ferriol, confirms Figuereido’s account of being uninvolved in the ongoing investigation.
“For me, I signed up to support this program because I believe what it’s about, empowering women in motorsports, and for me, Bia’s a very accomplished driver and I believe she should be treated as such, in her own right,” the business owner and Marine told RACER.
“Based on the documentation that was provided to me, I think that’s how she should be evaluated. I didn’t sign up to support the program only if it’s easy. To demonstrate my commitment, I’ve literally been to war with women; my wife was part of the incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, and if women can go to war, women can go racing and be treated just as equally. So, when Kat and Christina said they wanted Bia as a third driver, I said I’d love to help.”
Figueiredo got her first chance to drive the No. 88 Porsche on Friday at VIR in preparation for next week’s race in Sebring. The goal for the event is to use her performance as a springboard to earn more opportunities in the sport.
“My whole life has been organized, and 2020 surprised me with stuff I had no control of,” she added. “Now, I’m doing step-by-step. I want to do my best for the team, and to show I’m still fast so I can continue driving all the time.”