Indy Lights graduate Zachary Claman De Melo will replace the injured Pietro Fittipaldi for this weekend’s IndyCar race on the Indianapolis road course.
Claman De Melo and Fittipaldi had been slated to split the driving duties of the #19 car, with the Brazilian slated to drive the Indy road course and the Indianapolis 500.
But Fittipaldi’s injuries suffered in his crash during qualifying for the World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa-Francorchamps have forced DCR into a rethink.
It has opted to give Claman De Melo the ride for this weekend, but DCR is currently searching for a stand-in at the Indy 500 and the Texas Motor Speedway.
“I’m extremely excited to get to race at the IndyCar Grand Prix this weekend aboard the #19 Paysafe car, but I’m sad that it’s under these circumstances,” said Claman De Melo.
“My thoughts are first and foremost with Pietro, you never want to see that happen to a competitor, much less a teammate.
“Getting to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always special. I enjoyed racing there in Indy Lights and I can’t wait to now get a chance to drive there aboard an Indycar.
Katherine Legge has emerged as an early contender for the Indy 500 drive, although a proliferation of one-off drives for the 2018 race will make finding Fittipaldi’s replacement more difficult.
Claman De Melo has not been totally ruled out of continuing for the Indy 500, but team owner Dale Coyne suggested he was looking for a driver with more experience.
Fittipaldi is hoping to return to IndyCar for Mid-Ohio at the end of July, and will be heading to Indianapolis for the next stage of his treatment after he leaves Belgian hospital.