Schmidt Peterson Motorsport will hand a first Verizon IndyCar Series test to Luis Felipe ‘Pipo’ Derani, when he will join Luis Michael Dorrbecker at Sebring on March 1.
The Brazilian, who is racing in the first three FIA World Endurance Championship with the Ford GT squad as well as in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Extreme Speed Motorsport, will run on the short course at Sebring.
Team owner Sam Schmidt admits he has previously wanted to run Derani back in Indy Lights, and feels the twenty-three-year-old has well and truly proved himself as a top racer in recent years, and as a result is happy to give him the opportunity to test with a view to potentially racing for the outfit later in the season.
“We actually tested Pipo three or four years ago in Indy Lights and thought he was an outstanding young driver, but we just couldn’t put the deal together for Lights,” said Schmidt to Autosport. “So he floated around that year and ended up in sportscars and I think he truly proved himself.
“When Ed Brown started ESM’s deal with Pipo, I told him I thought it would work out well for him, and it certainly has. But Pipo has always wanted to race open-wheel.
“It could be like the situation with Simon [Pagenaud]. He left open-wheel, gained maturity and experience in sportscars and came back very strong. So this is a great back-to-back opportunity to test, with almost everyone testing at Sebring on February 28, and then these two guys and the track being available on March 1. We have high hopes for both Pipo and Dorrbecker – it’s all about looking toward the future.”
Schmidt admits that whilst both drivers could race in 2017, they are looking further into the future, with both James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin out of contract at the end of the season.
“We’d look at road courses to ease them into the programme. We have contract rights for both of them, this year and next year. But when I said for the future, I was thinking a bit further ahead.
“For example, we expect and wish to have a long-term relationship with both of our two existing drivers, but we have to consider also that they’re out of contract at the end of this year.”