Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin, who finished a promising 16th in his rookie season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, will not be returning for a sophomore campaign in 2015.
Ongoing struggles in the Russian economy, as well as United Nations sanctions against the Russian government, have forced Aleshin to forego his return to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, according to a report by SportsCar365.com.
But that doesn’t mean Aleshin will not be racing in 2015. The 27-year-old will switch to the FIA World Endurance Championship for the upcoming season, competing for SMP Racing’s LMP2 effort, according to a recent interview SMP principal Sergey Zlobin had with Russian sports website Sports.box.ru.
“It’s complicated for Mikhail to sign a contact in IndyCar this year,” Zlobin told sportsbox.ru. “It takes a lot of [resources] and he will take a hiatus, unfortunately.
“However, Mikhail will go for the top prize in the FIA WEC in LMP2, where he will pilot the [Russian] car we are building now.
“Hopefully we can win the championship with the [Russian] machine, and God willing, the economic situation will stabilize and Mikhail can go back to Indy in 2016.”
SMP won the 2014 WEC LMP2 championship and believes the addition of Aleshin will further enhance its chances of repeating with the title in 2015.
Aleshin became the first Russian driver to ever compete in the Indianapolis 500 last May, finishing 21st.
The news of Aleshin’s inability to return to IndyCar is not completely unexpected. Indianapolis Star writer Curt Cavin predicted in late November that Aleshin would not be back in an IndyCar in 2015 due to the current economic and political climate in Russia.
There is one bit of good news for Aleshin: he’s finally fully recovered from one of the worst racing crashes of his career, suffered last fall at Fontana (video below). While practicing for the season-ending IndyCar race at the two-mile Southern California track, Aleshin’s car went into a spin in Turn 4, where he was t-boned by the car of Charlie Kimball.
The impact sent Aleshin’s car up into the catch fence. He was removed from the wreckage and taken to a nearby hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition (Kimball was uninjured).
Aleshin has since recovered from his injuries he sustained in that wreck, which left him hospitalized for more than two weeks, including broken ribs, a broken right clavicle, a variety of other chest injuries and a concussion.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski