NTT DATA provides Kanaan, Hand a chance in Ganassi’s second DP at Indy

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For the second straight year, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is bringing out a second car as a “ringer” for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series’ Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Those fearing a repeat of Juan Pablo Montoya and his aggressive nature, though, need not worry as the fiery Colombian won’t be in the No. 02 Riley BMW. Instead, Tony Kanaan and Joey Hand will take the reins of the NTT DATA-sponsored Daytona Prototype.

Kanaan, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion, also raced in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in a GT class Porsche, while Hand won the Rolex 24 overall with Ganassi in 2011. Hand is a factory BMW driver who competes in the American Le Mans Series with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW Z4 program, and also in the DTM in Germany.

The No. 02 has not raced since this year’s Rolex 24, when it featured Hand, Ganassi’s two usual IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, and Montoya’s NASCAR Sprint Cup teammates Jamie McMurray. The opportunity for it to come out again at the Brickyard is thanks to the expanded partnership with NTT DATA, which sponsored Ryan Briscoe’s Ganassi IndyCar at this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.