Castroneves confirms Indy GP, hopeful of Le Mans drive

Helio Castroneves has confirmed that he will race for Team Penske in not only the Indy 500 but also the Indianapolis Grand Prix this May, while the following month he is hoping to make his first Le Mans 24 Hours start.

Castroneves confirms Indy GP, hopeful of Le Mans drive
Listen to this article

In 2018, the three-time Indy 500 winner, although a full-timer in the Acura Team Penske squad in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, raced a fourth Penske-Chevrolet at both the Indy GP on the 2.439-mile road course, as well as the 500 on the iconic oval.

Despite his relative unfamiliarity with IndyCar’s new-for-2018 aerokit – save for a half-day test at Barber Motorsports Park – Castroneves gave a good account of himself in the Grand Prix. He qualified 10th, less than 0.18sec from making it through to the Firestone Fast Six, and went on to finish sixth, less than 15sec behind winning teammate Will Power.

His Indy 500 saw him qualify and run in the Top 10 until he crashed out on Lap 146.

“Yes, I’m doing the Indy GP again to give us a little bit of a balance, little bit of a rhythm and then we’ll do the Indy 500,” Castroneves told Motorsport.com. “We need to do some changes [technically] to the car.

“But the good news is that IndyCar is not going to have many ovals again, which should help me to go in on a similar playing field to the guys who are full time.

“What happened last year… we’ve just got to fix it and hope it doesn’t happen this year, and instead get what we’re looking for.”

Asked if he is feeling more comfortable in his second year as a sportscar driver who occasionally moonlights as an IndyCar driver, he replied: “You can move me from IndyCar, but IndyCar is never going to leave me!

"But yes, I am feeling more comfortable in sportscar this year with the new Michelin tires. The difference between them and the [Firestone] tires in IndyCar is much smaller than the difference between the tires we did have [Continentals].

“I still watch IndyCar like I’m there! But at the end of the day, I am enjoying my new challenge and task, and I want that [IMSA] championship.”

Could Castroneves’ Le Mans opportunity come with RLR?

Castroneves said that should an opportunity emerge to race at Le Mans, he will take it – and with Team Penske’s blessing – having previously expressed an interest in contesting the French classic last year.

“Yeah, it’s getting close, I’m excited!” he said. “So far there’s nothing official, but hopefully an opportunity will come, and if it comes, the team [Penske] has already said I would be able to do it. I would love to experience that, for sure.”

On the subject of whether it would be with a Prototype or GT team, he responded: “I would be open to both, but an LMP car would be ideal because that’s what I’m racing now, and it doesn’t make sense to try something other what than what I’m racing now.”

One drive to which Castroneves has been linked is in the British RLR MSport squad, which is promising a big name signing for Le Mans to replace Bruno Senna.

Senna is committed to Rebellion Racing for both Le Mans and the WEC/ELMS double-header at Silverstone.

The team has admitted that Castroneves, who finished third in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona last week, is in the frame to lead the driver line-up in RLR’s Oreca 07 that Senna will race in the ELMS.

But Motorsport.com is given to understand that Castroneves is not the most likely driver to fill the vacancy in the team’s Le Mans lineup, and team boss Nick Reynolds said the 43-year-old veteran was only one of several potential candidates for the ride.

"There are a number of drivers on the list and I'm confident that we are going to have a name as big as Senna's or even bigger in the car," Reynolds told Motorsport.com.

- additional reporting by Jamie Klein

shares
comments
Daly excited by pressure of “best shot ever” at Indy glory
Previous article

Daly excited by pressure of “best shot ever” at Indy glory

Next article

Indy 500 gains new presenting sponsor

Indy 500 gains new presenting sponsor
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021