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Luca Ghiotto to make IndyCar debut with Dale Coyne in Alabama

Written by Dan Jones

Credit: Joe Portlock - Formula 1

Luca Ghiotto will make his IndyCar debut in the #51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing car in this weekend's Grand Prix of Alabama, as well as another appearance at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 11th, as announced by the team today.

Ghiotto, an F2 race winner, and current European Le Mans Series driver, will be the third driver to race in the #51 car in as many points-paying races, after the car was occupied by Colin Braun on the Streets of St. Petersburg and Nolan Siegel on the Streets of Long Beach. He will line up alongside Jack Harvey at Dale Coyne Racing (DCR) for both weekends.

The Italian was a surprise call-up, with the team continuing to announce drivers on a race-by-race basis. A five-time F2 winner, Ghiotto, 29, now races in the European Le Mans Series for Inter Europol Competition. Ghiotto also has a small amount of F1 experience, doing a post-race test at the Hungaroring for Williams in 2017. He has since done additional work as a simulator driver for Nissan in Formula E

“I’m very excited to be making my NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park,” Ghiotto said. “I’ve spent the majority of my career overseas but was always intrigued and wanting to try INDYCAR. It will be my first time driving this car and my first time at this track, so there’s a steep learning curve and challenge ahead of me, but I am very much looking forward to it.”

Braun occupied the car in the opening two events of the year. Credit: Joe Skibinski

Today's announcement means Ghiotto is the third driver to be in the #51 car this season, with Katherine Legge to become the fourth when she races at the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. IMSA Veteran, Colin Braun, stepped in for the season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg as well as the $1 Million Challenge at the Thermal Club.

IndyCar rookie, Nolan Siegel, was expected to make four outings in the #18 car this season, occupied by Harvey, but stepped into the #51 on the Streets of Long Beach last weekend, for his first IndyCar points-paying race. Ghiotto will now pilot the car at this weekend's Grand Prix of Alabama, and will remain in for IndyCar's Indy 500 prelude, the road course race on May 11th, before Katherine Legge will take over when the 'Month of May' gets down to business.

Team owner, Dale Coyne, said: “We know it won’t be an easy first race for Luca jumping in the car like this with no testing whatsoever. That said, he has plenty of experience in different types of race cars and has proven himself over the years. We look forward to seeing what he can do in the next two races and know that he will bring experience and knowledge to the team.”

Pourchaire impressed on debut at Long Beach. Credit: Joe Skibinski

Ghiotto joins the likes of Callum Ilott, Marcus Armstrong, Christian Lundgaard, Jüri Vips and Théo Pourchaire to make the step over to IndyCar from F2 in recent years. Almost all have impressed off the bat, most recently, Pourchaire, who made his debut in Long Beach, claiming the biggest mover award as he finished P11.

It only adds to what looks to be an intriguing weekend at Alabama, particularly after Wednesday's announcement that race winner, Josef Newgarden, and third place finisher, Scott McLaughlin were disqualified from the season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg, with Pato O'Ward inheriting the victory.

With the Penske saga to clear up, as well as one of the finest road courses of the year, Ghiotto's debut comes right in the thick of IndyCar madness, but will have the opportunity to prove himself to the IndyCar world for the first time.


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