British racing Carlin has announced that they will enter the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time in 2018 with a two-car entry. The team, who have raced in America since joining the Indy Lights series in 2015, will field former Chip Ganassi Racing team-mates, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.
The news means that Carlin will become the first all-British team to enter the IndyCar Series. The team, who are one of the leading names of single-seater racing, have previously competed in series such as Formula Three, GP3, GP2 and were even linked at joining Formula One in the mid-2000’s. In 2015, the team moved stateside to race in IndyCar’s feeder series, Indy Lights. Now, they will move up to America’s premier single-seater series; arguably the biggest challenge of their twenty-one-year history.
Carlin attempted to join the Verizon IndyCar Series for the start of the 2017 season by attempting a collaboration with another team. However, the deal with KVSH Racing failed to materialize. Now, Carlin will enter on their own with Chevrolet power beneath them. Team boss Trevor Carlin cited IndyCar’s switch to the new spec Dallara aero kits as one of the main factors that allowed him to take the plunge into the series.
“We’re delighted to finally be able to announce our entry into the IndyCar Series, the result of a long-term ambition of the team,” said team boss Trevor Carlin, “To be joined on that journey in our debut season with drivers we already have a race winning history with Max and Charlie, is beyond what we could have expected.
“By no means do we underestimate the challenge and competition that lies ahead, but I have great faith in the young and passionate team that our team manager Colin [Hale] and I have put together.”
Carlin will reunite with Max Chilton once again, with the team and driver combination going back many years. When the team made their first entry into the GP2 Series back in 2011, Chilton was one of their first drivers. He spent two years with the squad and earned two feature race victories and two further podiums before graduating to Formula One with Marussia for 2013.
His two years in Formula One with Marussia saw him outclassed by Jules Bianchi, who memorably managed to score championship points before his tragic accident in 2014, with Chilton sadly losing his race seat when the team hit financial strife at the end of the season.
For 2015, Chilton would move stateside with Carlin in the Indy Lights series with team-mate Ed Jones. Jones led the team to three race wins in their first three starts, with Chilton managing to find victory lane at Iowa Speedway later in the year. Max would end the year fifth in points and would graduate to IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2016.
Chilton earned eight top ten finishes during his two seasons with Ganassi, the best of which being a fantastic fourth place having led late in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year. Ganassi elected to downsize to a two-car effort for 2018, leaving Chilton out of a drive until Carlin came calling.
“Carlin being the first British team to enter the IndyCar Series in the modern era is a result of a lot of hard work and ambition,” Chilton said, “IndyCar is exceptionally competitive, but the introduction of the new aero package will help level the playing field slightly. I know that finding the maximum in a spec series like this is where Carlin really excels.”
Kimball too was left out in the cold after Ganassi’s downsizing, but he will stay in the series by joining Chilton in the second Carlin Chevrolet. Charlie also previously raced for Carlin all the way back in British Formula Three in 2005. He has raced full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2011 and has run 104 races during the seven-year period. He has one race win at Mid-Ohio in 2013 to his name, with his most recent highlight being pole position at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year. He’ll be hoping that his move to Carlin will be a step toward earning more consistent strong finishes.
“It seems like everything fell into place at the right time to have this opportunity to work with Trevor and the whole Carlin team again,” said Kimball.
“I’ve already got two years of experience working with Max as a teammate and I think our strengths and weaknesses will really complement each other as we begin this new adventure. IndyCar is not just gaining a new race team – which is, of course, exciting – but really gaining a capable and competitive group of people that make up this team.”
Carlin are expected to conduct pre-season testing throughout the first few months of 2018 along with their rivals. Their first race action will take place in the season-opening round of the championship, the Grand Prix of St Petersburg on March 11.