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Luca Filippi set for Indy 500 debut

GP2 star Luca Filippi will transfer to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012, after signing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan starting with the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Luca Filippi has completed his deal to move to the US and compete in the 2012 season of the IZOD IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan, alongside new team mate Takuma Sato.

“The IndyCar Series is really popular in Italy and my becoming an Indy car racing driver is a dream come true," said the 2011 GP2 Series runner-up.

But Filippi will have to wait a few more weeks for his US open wheel début, as he'll be sitting out the first four races of the season after team co-owner Bobby Rahal earlier agreed to offer up his second engine to Sarah Fisher's team to allow Sarah Fisher Harman Racing to make the grid in St Petersburg later this month.

Filippi caught Rahal's eye with his performance in last year's GP2 feeder series championship, when a mid-season switch to Scuderia Coloni saw him embark on a string of impressive wins that propelled him into second spot by the end of the year, behind champion Romain Grosjean.

“Having followed GP2 the last several years, I have watched Luca's progress with interest,” said Rahal. “Despite not always having the best equipment, it was clear he had the ability to not only run competitively but to also win races.

While Grosjean's GP2 title success saw him immediately transferred back into F1 such offers were conspicuous by their absence for Filippi, who was also runner-up in the 2011 Auto GP series. That set Filippi's mind to looking across the Atlantic, and the IndyCar Series.

“It's a great feeling to be part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing," said the 26-year-old from Savigliano, Italy. “Being a racing driver and a big motorsport fan too, it's amazing to have such a legend as Bobby Rahal as team owner."

Rahal was equally pleased with formalising the new deal. "Having gotten to know him over the last eight months, he has also shown that in addition to being able to win, he would represent Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in a first class manner," he said. "We are very excited to begin a long and successful relationship with him.”

Filippi will clearly have a lot to learn, and was at recent test sessions at Barber Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway watching the teams at work.

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Sebastian Saavedra [Picture credit: IndyCar media]
Sebastian Saavedra shows his frustration at the delay at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after rain washes out practice on Wednesday, May 18. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Team owner Bobby Rahal on the pit wall at Barber Motorsports Park [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Luca Filippi (ITA, Scuderia Coloni) celebrates his Spa sprint race victory on the podium. [Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/GP2 Media Service.]
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March 06, 2012 5:51 PM

Seriously, that man is an enigma. Throughout his career he seems to have gone back and forth from useless to brilliant... Which is probably why he hasn't got any F1 offers on the table. Hard to tell really if it's because of the equipment, if he's had some kind of motivational issues or if he just cracks under pressure, but either way I wish him the best of luck in the US.

Don - Unregistered

March 07, 2012 3:10 PM

Indy is a helluva place to start. He'll never experienced anything like that in his life. The speed, size and scope of it all. Hope it's not too overwhelming for him. I wish him the best.

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