Oriol Servia will drive the #12 Team Penske entry at the season opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season after Will Power withdrew due to illness.
Power had been complaining of a stomach virus and struggled through qualifying on Saturday even though he was able to take his sixth pole position in seven years at the track with a new track record.
But the Australian skipped the subsequent press conference, and went back to his hotel to attempt to recover from the illness, with the team giving him as much time to recover as possible, including allowing him to skip Sunday morning warm-up.
Servia took his place in the team for that session, ending ninth fastest in an ultra competitive field, and will now participate in the race at St Petersburg in the #12.
“Obviously this is a very difficult decision to make in the first race of the season, but Will’s health and safety is the most important thing to consider,” said Tim Cindric, Penske Racing President.
“We hope Will makes a speedy recovery and with Oriol’s professionalism and experience, we know he’ll do a solid job for our team.”
Servia himself admitted he did not want to get on the grid this way, but is determined to do his best for the team around the street circuit on Sunday.
“I feel terrible for Will and just hope he feels better soon as he was my team-mate a few years ago and he’s a good friend,” said Servia.
“It’s not the way you want to get the opportunity to drive for Team Penske, but it will be an honour to race for the team and drive the fastest car on the grid today.”