Sam Schmidt’s Indy Lights team and one of its current drivers are exploring their options for 2014.
As was announced a couple weeks ago, reigning Pro Mazda champion and Schmidt Peterson Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth is doing his first IndyCar test today at Sebring International Raceway with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Here’s a tweet from the team, below:
Hawksworth described the step up: “The big thing is for me that the braking is different, in the Lights car you can’t hit the brake nearly as hard as you can hit it in an IndyCar,” he told IndyCar.com. “But the way you actually drive the car in terms of how you went into the corner, how you try to get your turning done in the corner is quite similar.”
If Hawksworth makes the jump to IndyCar next year, either on his own or with the support of a Mazda scholarship for winning the championship (what Tristan Vautier did this year and Josef Newgarden did in 2012), that will free up at least one Indy Lights seat.
According to Trackside Online’s Joe Berkemeier, the team is testing four drivers in Indy Lights: Brazilian Luis Felipe Derani, Colombian Juan Piedrahita and Americans Jimmy Simpson and Spencer Pigot. Derani and Simpson will test two days with Pigot and Piedrahita sharing a third car a day apiece.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.