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Conor Daly 'likely to stick with GP3' in 2013

11 April 2013

Conor Daly's managed to get himself a lot of attention and considerable praise with his activities so far in 2013, which has included an impressive maiden race weekend in the GP2 Series and confirmation that he'll be making a shot at starting the Indianapolis 500 in May with the legendary AJ Foyt's race team.

But the 21-year-old son of former F1 and Champ Car driver Derek Daly hasn't yet confirmed what the rest of his year holds for him after the Indy 500 adventure: will he stay in GP3 for a second season with the ART team, or could he be tempted to move up to GP2 full time with Hilmer Motorsport? Or will he exit the European scene altogether and pursue a career in US open wheel racing instead?

"I will most likely be racing full time in GP3 this year," he revealed this week. "I do not know at the moment if I will be doing anymore GP2 this year."

And as for the upcoming US opportunity, Daly was determined not to let it divert him from his long-term goals. "In all honesty there are no other IndyCar racing plans at the moment," he admitted.

"I still have a goal of making it to F1 and my Indy 500 plan does not hinder that goal in any way," he said, insisting that he should still be able to compete in the GP3 series despite his US commitments at Indianapolis. "In fact, I think it can only help my career. I will be learning a lot from experienced drivers and engineers which will be a great experience for me.

"I think a GP2 car is actually similar to an IndyCar," he added. "The IndyCar definitely has a bit more power than GP2 but it's also heavier than GP2. Both fantastic cars to drive. The GP2 car sounds amazing!"

Daly didn't even know he'd be competing at Malaysia until he was practically bundled into an airplane at the last minute just three days before the cars hit the track for the first time.

"It was the definition of a last minute deal but I was very happy to get the call. Very interesting deals happen in racing all the time and this was another one of them!" he laughed, adding that he didn't mind the frantic schedule in the least. "It's a great experience. I'm just happy to be driving cars. The travel and the hectic schedule are all worth it when you strap into that race car."

Considering that many of the drivers in GP2 and F1 spent months preparing for Malaysia's drainingly humid conditions, Daly did impressively well to finish in the points in the weekend's sprint race in what was also Hilmer Motorsport's début in the feeder series after the January announcement that they were taking over from Ocean Racing Technology in 2013.

"It was definitely a huge physical challenge but so much fun!" insisted Daly. "It really feels great to be in a long race with a pit stop as well. My engineer said my fitness was exemplary so I was happy with that compliment."

Daly followed up the GP2 début and announcement of his forthcoming Indy 500 outing by returning to his GP3 day job with the pre-season testing session in the UK.

"It was very cool to arrive at the GP3 test in Silverstone with the announcement coming out the day I got there," he said. "Everyone in the paddock knew the following day and were really supportive and very happy for me. You can really tell how great of an event the Indy 500 is when people all around the world know the significance of getting a shot at competing."

Competing in the race has also been one of Daly's personal dreams, as he was born and raised close to the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest audience-capacity motor racing track in the world.

"I hope to have a strong month of May in the IndyCar and really soak in the experience, it's going to be very memorable for me and I can't wait," he said. "It will fit in perfectly with our European plans if we get those fully sorted out and it will work out really well."

Juggling all the commitments doesn't make for a simple life, especially when plans can change at short notice such as the decision by the IndyCar organisers to postpone the Rookie Orientation Programme that Daly and his fellow Indy 500 newcomers (Tristan Vautier, Carlos Munoz and AJ Allmendinger) must attend if they are to be allowed to even participate in practice and qualifying at IMS in May.

Daly was confident that the postponement of ROP to an as-yet unconfirmed later date would not be a problem for him. "Not at all. There is plenty of track time before qualifying and I have a lot of confidence in the team. I know we will be ready to go whenever the circumstances allow me to get in the car.

What with experience of F3, World Series by Renault 3.5 and the MRF Challenge Championship in India in the last 11 months to add to his GP2, GP3 and IndyCar appearances, it's certainly been an impressively diverse year in the young American's racing life.

"I've had a lot of fantastic opportunities that's for sure!" he agreed. "I am very thankful for the experience and seat time I've been able to get. It's been a great start to the year and I hope we can continue to build on our success throughout the season."


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