Luca Filippi is to return to the Verizon IndyCar Series after Rahal Letterman Lanigan announced that it will add a second car to its line-up for the upcoming Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston and Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheader events.
"I'm extremely excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing," said the 28-year-old Italian, who finished 2011 as runner-up in both the GP2 Series and Auto GP championships. "There is a lot of respect between myself and Bobby.
"We have been trying to find a way to work together for a long time and to finally have it happen is a great feeling," he continued.
"I really love the IndyCar Series. Since I first drove the car and experienced the atmosphere of the series, I have loved everything about it and can't wait to get back in a car."
After a potential race deal with RLL fell through in 2012, Filippi eventually made his IndyCar début in 2013 with four starts for Bryan Herta Autosport at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Baltimore and the Houston doubleheader. He claimed a best start and finish of eighth and tenth respectively in the first Houston race.
“We tried to get Luca into the team a few years back and even went so far as to build a seat but we were unable to find the funding," said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL. "In the meantime he went to Bryan Herta's team and showed what he can do in the few races he ran for them.
"He has been successful in GP2 in Europe, amongst other series, for a number of years so I don't think there is any question that he has the pace to run towards the front," Rahal added. "On top of that, he is a real gentleman and we are looking forward to working with him and seeing how he can help the team progress."
Filippi added that seeing his new team mate Graham Rahal on the podium in the first doubleheader race at Detroit at the end of May had been hugely encouraging as he prepares to join the RLL line-up.
"I know the team is capable and has potential but it was good to see Graham on the podium in Detroit and so close to the win," he agreed. "That proved the car is working very well on a street course and I really expect to have a good feeling from the car again.
"I really enjoyed the Houston course last year so the expectation is high for a good result," he said.
"I don't know the Toronto circuit but coming from another street course before that, I hope I can build on what we learn in Houston and learn the Toronto course quickly," Filippi added about the final doubleheader of the season in mid-July. "The circuit looks very, very tricky and demanding but from what I know the atmosphere all around the Toronto weekend looks amazing. I can't wait to be involved."
Filippi has recently been working with Sky Sports Italy as part of their overage of F1 Grand Prix events, and has also been a guest co-commentator on the world coverage of the GP2 Series; he will have to skip the coverage of the German Grand Prix weekend in order to go racing in Canada.