Dale Coyne Racing expects to revise its #19 Indycar ride-share by having Pietro Fittipaldi complete the season when he makes an expected comeback at Mid-Ohio.
Zachary Claman De Melo will compete at this month’s Indianapolis 500 after Fittipaldi was injured in a qualifying crash in the World Endurance season opener at Spa, suffering a compound fracture of his left leg and a broken right ankle.
Fittipaldi had been slated to share the DCR #19 seat with Claman De Melo, competing in seven out of the 17 races. He made his debut at Phoenix with his injury preventing him racing in both Indianapolis races and the Texas oval before a Mid-Ohio return at the end of July.
With Claman De Melo now expected to race at Texas should he perform adequately at Indy, Dale Coyne says he is likely to revise the ride-share.
“Realistically, his original schedule was to do the [Indy] GP, this race, Texas, then not come back till Mid-Ohio. I think the plan is we've moved some races around with Zach, so he'll do this race and probably Texas.
“But that frees the whole rest of the season up so [Fittipaldi] can come back at Mid-Ohio and finish up the season.”
Fittipaldi: Bourdais an inspiration
Fittipaldi is currently undergoing his recovery at Indianapolis with IndyCar’s leading medical professionals, Dr. Terry Trammell and Dr. Steve Olvey.
He says he has lent on Sebastien Bourdais after the four-time Champ Car title-winner suffered serious injuries in qualifying for the Indy 500 last year.
“Sebastien came to my motorhome yesterday,” he said. “I was speaking to him for an hour or so. He was telling me all about his recovery, his rehab, how he got back in around eight to ten weeks, something like that. It's obviously very inspiring.
“Even with my cousin, Christian Fittipaldi, when he got injured [in a 1997 CART race at Surfer’s Paradise], he came back, he had one of his best races. He had the same injury that I have on my left leg.
“I'm getting a lot of input from a lot of friends and family, which is always good. It's putting me on the right path to getting back.”
Not put off mixed schedule
Fittipaldi added that the accident has not put him off racing a variety of cars in a season, although his aim for now is getting back in the IndyCar.
“Obviously I'm going to be focused on my IndyCar schedule. Doing those last five races are going to be very important. But, you know, I'm a racer. I always want to race as many things as possible, be competitive. I think in a way it was unfortunate because we were competitive [at Spa]. In Practice 1, Practice 2, we were running third and fourth behind the Toyotas.
“Let's see how this goes. But my focus right now is to get back as soon as possible. Like the plan is already in a week to get back in a go-kart. That's what we want to do, then get back in Mid-Ohio. That's going to be my first race.”