Trevor Carlin has admitted that the chances of a KV Racing-Carlin partnership this season are now looking remote, having failed to land Mikhail Aleshin.
Carlin told Motorsport.com: “Through circumstances, 2017 seems to have slipped away from us. It’s getting so late, it would be hard to put a team together now – not impossible, but very difficult.
“So we’ll just get our heads down, crank on with the Indy Lights team, and try and defend our championship, and see where that leads for 2018.”
Both Carlin and potential new partner KV Racing’s Kevin Kalkhoven had been hoping to sign Aleshin, who, contrary to reports last fall, has not yet been confirmed at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports due to uncertainty over SMP Racing's funding for an American program.
What should have been Aleshin’s second year in IndyCar, 2015, was put on hold due to U.S. sanctions on Russia, then in place.
These sanctions were lifted in late summer that year, allowing Schmidt to add a third car for Aleshin in the season finale, and rehire him for a full season last year. Aleshin impressed with several strong performances, looking like a possible winner at Mid-Ohio until a pitlane incident, and then taking pole and finishing a close second at Pocono.
However, the currently unsettled relationship between America and Russia has once more hung a question mark over SMP's enthusiasm for backing a U.S.-based program.
Said Carlin: “Kevin [Kalkhoven] worked really, really hard with us to get a car on the grid, and the idea of running Aleshin was really exciting. He won World Series by Renault with us back in 2010, and he’s really looked strong in IndyCar, and he’s learned the limits of these cars; he’s not a wild rookie.
“So that was the deal we really wanted to put together, and if Aleshin turned up with the right money in the next two weeks, I’d have to seriously reconsider.
"But SMP don’t seem that keen on the States at the moment, so the deal’s not there to be done. Like I say, now it’s looking too late, and we’ve said all along that rushing to do things at the last minute isn’t how we work and doesn’t help anybody.”
Asked whether there was a chance of entering later in the season, a ‘toe-in-the-water’ approach, possibly running two-time Macau F3 GP winner Antonio Felix da Costa, who is eager to race in IndyCar, Carlin said he was wary of that idea for two reasons, one of which was coming into the sport in the final year of the manufacturer aerokits.
“For the right deal – and Kevin offered an extremely good deal on his equipment – and the right driver, I considered it worth doing that one-year aerokit deal,” he said. “But as time moves on now, it’s probably best to just arrive with the new [universal] aerokit for 2018 at the same time as everyone else.
“The other thing is, I said all along that when we come in we want to stay in. We don’t just want to come in for a couple of races and then disappear again. We want to set it up properly, start, and then be in for the long-term.”
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