Fresh from winning the 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tyres crown, Gabby Chaves has spoken about his joy at getting a full season drive in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Taking the seat vacated at Bryan Herta Autosport by Jack Hawksworth, Chaves has fully utilised the Mazda Road to Indy Ladder to be able to polish his skills and get a drive immediately in the top flight of US single seater racing.
He said: “Everything that I’ve learned so far in the last three years in the Mazda Road to Indy and the last two years in Indy Lights I’ve been able to apply to the IndyCar Series. Especially when it comes down to the first race on the ovals, the whole oval schedule that we have, I think that’s where it’s going to make a bigger difference.”
It could be seen that Chaves is coming into the series at a better time than most with the Aero kits designed by Honda & Chevrolet for their prospective teams coming into force. Couple that with fields of cars that should easily surpass the 20 mark, the young driver is clearer itching to get going at St Petersburg: “I mean, it’s definitely a big challenge stepping up. Obviously every time you step up, drivers just get better and better. It’s going to be a big challenge.
“I think with Indy Lights, you can’t take too much into consideration the car count, even though it is slow and it’s growing thankfully, because when you look at how guys like Jack Hawksworth impressed everyone, and everybody thought he would be a nobody last season, he impressed everyone, as well as Carlos Muñoz in his rookie Indy 500 and his rookie year. You can’t look too much into the car count when you have to look at the quality of the drivers.”
That quality is something that definitely impress team boss Bryan Herta, who got a good impression of the driver while he was racing in Indy Lights: “I mean, obviously the impression was good. It really started with some conversations a few months back and evolved to agreeing to go do a test at Sebring in December to get to know each other. I’d say that went really well on and off the track. Gabby was highly recommended. Obviously his credentials in Indy Lights speak for themselves.
“For us, we’ve seen from recent past that the guys who have been coming out of Indy Lights into IndyCar have been doing a great job. We had a good experience with Jack Hawksworth coming out of Indy Lights. Gabby was obviously right from day one a very competitive driver. It was just a case of how can we put a deal together.”
As he stated, Herta is starting to gain a reputation for giving young drivers their big break in the top class and it could be said that that turn over is good for the series – he agrees: “I think it’s important for the series. As a team owner, I have to take a narrower view. Frankly, it just comes down to getting the very best guy in our car that we can get.
“I’m very pleased with where we ended up this year. I believe Gabby is going to do some great things this year in the car and I believe he’s a guy that we want to try and hang on to and keep on the team for several years to come.”
Finally from Chaves, a look back on the series that really helped him learn American racing and is going under somewhat of a transformation with a new car being brought in for 2015: ” I’m very happy with what’s happening right now with Indy Lights and the new car. I think that’s something that the series needed, and definitely is attracting a lot of attention, even new teams from overseas, new drivers, drivers that have competed in Formula One before, now coming over to Indy Lights. I think that’s great for the series. I think it’s great for IndyCar as well because it’s going to expand that feeder system. I’m very pleased that’s going in a positive direction.”