Lucas di Grassi may have missed out on a full-time F1 ride after a frustrating season with debutants Virgin Racing in 2010, but he remains an interesting prospect for other series.
The Brazilian, who has picked up the testing role with Pirelli since losing his seat to Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio, will now make his V8 Supercar debut after becoming the final piece in the Armor All Gold Coast 600 driver puzzle for the 21-23 October showpiece event in Surfers Paradise. di Grassi, who is the tenth driver with F1 experience to join the field, will share the MOTHER Energy Racing entry with regular driver Jonathan Webb.
The 2005 Macau Grand Prix winner has a street racing pedigree and, despite having to adapt to the heavier V8 touring car, should be at home on the Surfers Paradise circuit previously used by the Champ Car World Series. The MENSA member will be returning to race in Australia for only the second time, having made his second F1 start with Virgin in Melbourne last year.
"It's a real privilege to be asked to join the high calibre of drivers taking part at this year's event," di Grassi commented, "It's sure to be a special meeting and I can't wait to take on the Surfers Paradise track. I expect the weekend to be very entertaining and exciting and I'm focused on coming to the Gold Coast to help Jonathon and the MOTHER Energy Team get the best possible result."
di Grassi, a former Renault F1 development driver and the man charged with developing the second generation GP2 Series machine, becomes the fourth Brazilian in a stellar international field, alongside IndyCar racers Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan and World Touring Car Championship livewire Augusto Farfus, and the tenth driver to have sampled F1 during his career, a group led by current HRT pilot Tonio Liuzzi and former Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Bourdais, the Frenchman having raced with the MOTHER Energy team in the 2010 event. The Gold Coast 600 rules mandate that regular V8 runners are partnered by an 'international' star.
As well as the F1 drivers past and present, the field for the event also includes current Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, several former IndyCar Champions, five of the current top ten in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and race winners and series champion from Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona, NASCAR and World and European Touring Cars.
"Lucas di Grassi is regarded as one of the better young prospects in world motorsport and, with recent F1 experience under the eye of Sir Richard Branson, he makes a great addition to the champions we have on board already," Queensland sports minister Phil Reeves said, "Ticket sales for the event show that visitors to the Gold Coast are as excited as we are."
Apart from di Grassi, Liuzzi and Bourdais, the other drivers with F1 links are Mika Salo, James Courtney, Ryan Briscoe, Stephane Sarrazin, Gianni Morbidelli, Jan Magnussen and Christian Klien.