Saavedra confirmed for second KV/AFS Racing IndyCar entry

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Sebastian Saavedra has been confirmed for KV Racing’s second IndyCar for the 2014 season. The Colombian will drive the No. 17 AFS-backed KV AFS Racing Chevrolet, and for a second straight year, be teammates with Sebastien Bourdais.

KV Racing, run by Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser, have joined forces with Gary Peterson’s AFS group to make the entry. Vasser said the engineering lineup are confirmed and will be released at a later time.

“I’m very excited to be honest,” Saavedra said. “It’s very important to have some sort of relationship with teammates last year. We get to work together, find out what we like, and joining forces again with a great team with a history, and the mentality of securing the Indy 500 last year is even more motivation. Having the tools, the energy, will help.”

Bourdais and Saavedra were teammates at Dragon Racing in 2013, but Dragon will not return to IndyCar on a full-time basis in 2014. The only confirmed program for Jay Penske’s organization in 2014 is the team’s FIA Formula E Championship effort.

Saavedra and Peterson have worked together on two prior occasions. When the Colombian first entered Indy Lights in 2009, he was in an AFS/Andretti Green Racing entry. Additionally, when he stepped back down to Indy Lights in 2012, it was with Peterson’s support in a then-AFS/Andretti Autosport car. He made three IndyCar starts in 2012, both 500-mile races at Indianapolis and Fontana and the road race at Sonoma.

Colombia now has its third confirmed driver on the 2014 IndyCar grid, as Saavedra joins his old Indy Lights teammate Carlos Munoz and Juan Pablo Montoya in the field.

Vasser added during the conference call held Wednesday that the team has “real good” chances of running a third car for the Indianapolis 500, for a veteran male or female driver.

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.