De Ferran: Merger was best option

The newly-merged Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports team has denied that the two squads have joined forces solely for financial reasons

De Ferran: Merger was best option

Double Champ Car champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran had previously hoped to form his own IndyCar outfit for this season, but yesterday announced a merger between his business and the team owned by Steve Luczo and Jay Penske, which will run a single car in this season's IndyCar Series for 2009 rookie of the year Raphael Matos.

"This wasn't driven by economics; it was driven by our will to compete and win at this level," said Penske.

"We wanted to bring in the experience of someone who has won at this level and combine it with the technology that Steve and I have. This is about making a strong core base stronger."

De Ferran added: "We're facing formidable opponents: Ganassi and Team Penske have been dominating this championship for the last several seasons and the goal is to be as good as them if not better. To do that, we need to dig deep and pull as many resources as we can together."

De Ferran admitted his own team - which previously raced in the American Le Mans Series - had suffered from the uncertainty over his 2010 plans and lost some key personnel as a result, but said this merger would allow him to bring remaining staff across to strengthen Luczo Dragon Racing.

"Teams are made of people and process and at the end of last year it's true we lost some key guys and the reason we lost them is because there was so much uncertainty as to what we were going to do," he said.

"The culture of de Ferran Motorsports remains, a lot of the processes we created over the past couple of seasons are going to be integrated with Luczo Dragon, and a lot of our personnel will come back and be a part of our team.

"The biggest investment we can make is in people. Luczo Dragon's head count will be increasing, but it's important everyone fits within that structure. You don't want too much overlap. Right now we have moved three people from de Ferran Motorsports and the headcount may increase further."

The squad dismissed rumours it may run a second car this year for Graham Rahal or ex-Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato, but does hope to run more cars in the future and is even plotting an expansion into feeder series Indy Lights.

"The extra data and R&D you can accumulate means running two cars makes a lot of sense, and that is the direction we want to go in the future, but as we proved last year by winning the rookie of the year, you can have a lot of success with a single-car effort," said Penske.

"We have a lot of respect for Graham Rahal and everything he's achieved in this series, and if an opportunity came along to work with him in the future, we would welcome that, but at the moment we're very much focused on Rafa.

"We've seen many great champions and drivers come out of Indy Lights and being involved with it is something we've been looking at.

"It's part of building this team where there are opportunities to do so, but we've got a budget to run one car this year and that's the plan."

De Ferran added: "I think Sato is the best person to answer questions about what Sato is doing. Rumours about him working with me have started because we worked together at Honda in F1.

"If he comes to IndyCar I think he will be a great asset. He's a very good driver and very popular in Japan, so he'll bring a lot of fans to the series."

De Ferran also ruled out a driving comeback in IndyCar. When asked about making a one-off appearance in the Indy 500 he said: "I'll give that a very short answer: No! IndyCar racing is highly competitive and I found it hard enough to be competitive when I was doing it full time. It was the sole focus of my life.

"I thought about how to make myself a better driver all the time. It takes a lot of focus and I found when I was running de Ferran Motorsports in the ALMS, trying to grow the team, [it was] increasingly difficult to perform both functions to my standard.

"I would find it impossible to compete at the level it would take to win the Indy 500 and run our new team as a world-class organisation. The two tasks are too much for one person at the same time."

shares
comments
Hildebrand tests for Dale Coyne

Previous article

Hildebrand tests for Dale Coyne

Next article

Indy must retain identity - de Ferran

Indy must retain identity - de Ferran
Load comments
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over Plus

Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over

OPINION: The 2021 IndyCar silly season has been one of the silliest for many years, as many talented drivers remain in play – with new pieces to the puzzle being added all the time. Here's what we know so far about who will end up where in 2022

IndyCar
Sep 15, 2021
Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears Plus

Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears

OPINION: The rise of two drivers racing only their second full-season IndyCar campaigns to head the points with four races to go has led to some observers doubting the credentials of the old guard. But they haven't faded away, there's merely a deeper talent pool that is helping to make this season one of the best in recent years

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021