De Ferran joins Honda’s HPD as technical consultant

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Two-time CART champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran will join Honda Performance Development as a technical consultant and advisor.

“I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for Honda and its role in motorsports,” said de Ferran in a statement released by the manufacturer. “Honda has been a common thread in my racing career since we first worked to develop their Indy car engines in 1996, which led to winning races and championships, followed by my time in Formula One and the amazing Acura ARX-02a. Throughout our long and storied history, whatever role I played, we have developed a great, successful, enjoyable and effective working relationship. I look forward to contributing to Honda’s efforts once again.”

For many years, De Ferran — known to his many fans as “The Professor” — has worked with the Honda/HPD camp. He won seven times in CART with Honda power, and also claimed an American Le Mans Series title in 2009 with the aforementioned Acura ARX-02a. In addition, the Brazilian served as the sporting director for Honda’s Formula One outfit from 2005 to 2007 and was a member of INDYCAR’s ICONIC committee, which was charged with creating the series’ new car concept that debuted last season.

“We’re thrilled to have Gil rejoin the HPD family as a technical consultant and advisor,” HPD president Art St. Cyr said. “It feels like a homecoming for us, as Gil has played such an important role for the Honda Racing effort in both open-wheel and sports-car racing for such a long time. His skills and expertise are almost impossible to duplicate, and we look forward to his continuing contributions to HPD’s racing programs.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.