Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced earlier this week that they have hired Luca Filippi to drive the No. 16 car for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers and the Honda Indy Toronto. Sponsorship for Filippi’s effort will come from IMPCO and FightSMA.
“I’m extremely excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing because there is a lot of respect between myself and Bobby (Rahal),” Filippi said. “We have been trying to find a way to work together for a long time and to finally have it happen is a great feeling. I really love the IndyCar Series. Since I first drove the car and experienced the atmosphere of the series, I have loved everything about it and can’t wait to get back in a car.”
The 28-year-old made his debut last year with Bryan Herta Autosport at Mid-Ohio, while also running Baltimore and the doubleheader at Houston. Filippi’s best finish came at the second Houston race in the form of a 10th.
The Italian spent six seasons in GP2, finishing runner-up in the championship points with three wins in 2011.
“We tried to get Luca into the team a few years back and even went so far as to build a seat but we were unable to find the funding,” Rahal said. “In the meantime, he went to Bryan Herta’s team and showed what he can do in the few races he ran for them. He has been successful in GP2 in Europe, amongst other series, for a number of years so I don’t think there is any question that he has the pace to run toward the front. On top of that, he is a real gentleman and we are looking forward to working with him and seeing how he can help the team progress.”
Filippi feels that he will do well at Houston in two weeks based upon RLLR full-time driver Graham Rahal scoring as second place finish in Duel 1 in Detroit last month.
“I know the team is capable and has potential but it was good to see Graham on the podium in Detroit and so close to the win,” he commented. “That proved the car is working very well on a street course and I really expect to have a good feeling from the car again. I really enjoyed the Houston course last year so the expectation is high for a good result.
“I don’t know the Toronto circuit but coming from another street course before that, I hope I can build on what we learn in Houston and learn the Toronto course quickly. The circuit looks very, very tricky and demanding but from what I know the atmosphere all around the Toronto weekend looks amazing. I can’t wait to be involved.”