Castroneves confirms Indy GP, hopeful of Le Mans drive

Helio Castroneves has confirmed that he will race for Team Penske in not only the Indy 500 but also the Indianapolis Grand Prix this May, while the following month he is hoping to make his first Le Mans 24 Hours start.

Castroneves confirms Indy GP, hopeful of Le Mans drive

In 2018, the three-time Indy 500 winner, although a full-timer in the Acura Team Penske squad in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, raced a fourth Penske-Chevrolet at both the Indy GP on the 2.439-mile road course, as well as the 500 on the iconic oval.

Despite his relative unfamiliarity with IndyCar’s new-for-2018 aerokit – save for a half-day test at Barber Motorsports Park – Castroneves gave a good account of himself in the Grand Prix. He qualified 10th, less than 0.18sec from making it through to the Firestone Fast Six, and went on to finish sixth, less than 15sec behind winning teammate Will Power.

His Indy 500 saw him qualify and run in the Top 10 until he crashed out on Lap 146.

“Yes, I’m doing the Indy GP again to give us a little bit of a balance, little bit of a rhythm and then we’ll do the Indy 500,” Castroneves told Motorsport.com. “We need to do some changes [technically] to the car.

“But the good news is that IndyCar is not going to have many ovals again, which should help me to go in on a similar playing field to the guys who are full time.

“What happened last year… we’ve just got to fix it and hope it doesn’t happen this year, and instead get what we’re looking for.”

Asked if he is feeling more comfortable in his second year as a sportscar driver who occasionally moonlights as an IndyCar driver, he replied: “You can move me from IndyCar, but IndyCar is never going to leave me!

"But yes, I am feeling more comfortable in sportscar this year with the new Michelin tires. The difference between them and the [Firestone] tires in IndyCar is much smaller than the difference between the tires we did have [Continentals].

“I still watch IndyCar like I’m there! But at the end of the day, I am enjoying my new challenge and task, and I want that [IMSA] championship.”

Could Castroneves’ Le Mans opportunity come with RLR?

Castroneves said that should an opportunity emerge to race at Le Mans, he will take it – and with Team Penske’s blessing – having previously expressed an interest in contesting the French classic last year.

“Yeah, it’s getting close, I’m excited!” he said. “So far there’s nothing official, but hopefully an opportunity will come, and if it comes, the team [Penske] has already said I would be able to do it. I would love to experience that, for sure.”

On the subject of whether it would be with a Prototype or GT team, he responded: “I would be open to both, but an LMP car would be ideal because that’s what I’m racing now, and it doesn’t make sense to try something other what than what I’m racing now.”

One drive to which Castroneves has been linked is in the British RLR MSport squad, which is promising a big name signing for Le Mans to replace Bruno Senna.

Senna is committed to Rebellion Racing for both Le Mans and the WEC/ELMS double-header at Silverstone.

The team has admitted that Castroneves, who finished third in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona last week, is in the frame to lead the driver line-up in RLR’s Oreca 07 that Senna will race in the ELMS.

But Motorsport.com is given to understand that Castroneves is not the most likely driver to fill the vacancy in the team’s Le Mans lineup, and team boss Nick Reynolds said the 43-year-old veteran was only one of several potential candidates for the ride.

"There are a number of drivers on the list and I'm confident that we are going to have a name as big as Senna's or even bigger in the car," Reynolds told Motorsport.com.

- additional reporting by Jamie Klein

shares
comments
Daly excited by pressure of “best shot ever” at Indy glory

Previous article

Daly excited by pressure of “best shot ever” at Indy glory

Next article

Indy 500 gains new presenting sponsor

Indy 500 gains new presenting sponsor
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar , WEC
Drivers Helio Castroneves
Author David Malsher-Lopez
Colton Herta – America's next racing hero Prime

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero

Last Sunday, Colton Herta demolished his IndyCar opposition in the second round of the season. David Malsher-Lopez explains why Andretti Autosport’s youngest ace bears all the hallmarks of becoming the country’s next homegrown motorsport hero.

IndyCar
Apr 29, 2021
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Apr 21, 2021
Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car? Prime

Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car?

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indy car game-changer that won three Indy 500s in six years.

IndyCar
Dec 23, 2020