The last two races he’s driven in the Verizon IndyCar Series, under less than ideal circumstances, Oriol Servia has performed admirably with barely a day – if that – of preparation in each case.
As he’s now been confirmed for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ third car with more than a month before race day, it’s a slightly different situation.
“It feels great to have a little more than one night to prepare to jump in a car,” Servia joked during a media teleconference on Monday.
“But it actually is the one race that’s probably the easiest to find chemistry because you’re going to be there running many days, where you get to know the team many hours a day, on track, off track. There’s going to be some rainy days, as there usually is in May in Indy, and those days we get to spend a lot of time with our engineers, mechanics.
“Obviously, it’s not as good as being a full season or many seasons with the team, but it’s the closest thing because we end up spending more time probably in the month of May with the team than the rest of the season combined almost. So I’m not worried there.”
Indeed the preparation comes from Servia’s past years of competition. SPM will mark his 14th different team he’s driven for in his 16-year career dating to 2000, but only his fifth at Indy.
Servia raced for KV Racing Technology in 2008, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2009, 2014 and 2015, Newman/Haas Racing in 2011, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (as Panther DRR in 2012) in 2012 and 2013.
Servia and SPM’s paths crossed in 2011, when Servia qualified third and Alex Tagliani, in what was then SPM’s No. 77 car (same number Servia will drive this year), took the pole position.
“I had great races in the past at this little place, and it’s coming at a point in my career that I feel the most prepared. So I couldn’t be happier. I also couldn’t be happier to join Sam’s team and organization, who we actually shared the front row in 2011. I know they’re going to give me probably the best shot I could have in a one-race entry program.”
Will Marotti, the Connecticut pastor, and team co-owner Sam Schmidt also joined the conference call. Several partners were announced for the Marotti Racing consortium; an Indianapolis-area construction firm called ABC, a firearms concern called Carson Firearms and a fitness application called FITCOM were identified during the call.
Further commercial partners are expected to be revealed at a later date.
Servia and Schmidt also strongly hinted, without naming him directly, that a past engineer in Yves Touron could be on board to engineer the car.
Touron, who worked with Servia at DRR, currently serves as Team Pelfrey’s race engineer in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series.
“That question should be answered by Sam, but a name he brought up in an earlier discussion is a name that I did like. I don’t know if that’s going to be him. So I don’t know if Sam can answer that,” Servia said.
Schmidt followed, “Yes, we’re negotiating a little bit, I think. Oriol’s got someone he’s worked with before that we’ve worked with before, that would be a perfect storm, but he’s just trying to clear his schedule.”