Rahal: Third RLLR IndyCar entry for 2020 looking less likely
Bobby Rahal believes the chances of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda running a third full-time IndyCar next season have taken a dive over the past couple of weeks.
While co-owners Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan remain enthusiastic about the idea of running a third entry alongside current incumbents Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato, the odds of it happening have apparently slipped “from 65-35 to 50-50”.
Rahal told Motorsport.com: “We’re about halfway there, and we’re still working on it but some of the things that we thought looked good didn’t turn out that way.
“We’ve got some money, we’ve found some resource but as we’ve always said, if we can’t do it correctly we’re not going to do it. We’ll just work harder to do it correctly.
“So I think it’s 50-50 now but it’s only September, there’s still time. We’ll see what happens.”
Although James Hinchcliffe had been linked to possibly switching to RLLR from Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in order to remain a Honda driver, Arrow McLaren Racing SP’s new-for-2020 partnership with Chevrolet has not proved a hindrance for the Canadian star and he will remain there for a sixth season.
At any rate, Motorsport.com learned from another RLLR source that the team was actually more inclined toward finding an up-and-coming star, possibly a Japanese driver from Super Formula “to replace Takuma when he retires in two or three years.”
Currently the obvious young gun candidates associated with Honda are Nirei Fukuzumi and Tadasuke Makino, both of whom have had experience in Europe – GP3 and Formula 2 for Fukuzumi, F3 and F2 for Makino. Another fast Honda driver in Super Formula is Tomoki Nojiri although at 29 he may be considered too old to make the switch from Japanese open-wheel racing to IndyCar.
Asked whether he was looking for a rookie, perhaps an Indy Lights graduate, or land an experienced driver, Rahal replied: “We’ve been looking at both rookies and experienced drivers. Rookie-wise, maybe not so much Indy Lights, but we’re also looking outside our borders.
“But we’re not close to making an announcement yet. As far as I’m concerned, worst case scenario is to keep building as a two-car team and we’re fine with that. We’re confident that Takuma is set to come back, and Graham’s sponsors are set for several years to come. Best case, we’ll be at three fulltime.”
Sato and Rahal currently lie sixth and ninth respectively in the championship with one race to go, Sato having scored wins at Barber Motorsports Park and Gateway’s Worldwide Technology Raceway.
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