Servia chasing extended Rahal deal for 'best IndyCar season ever'

Oriol Servia believes 2017 could be his strongest IndyCar season yet - nearly two decades after his debut - if he can extend his current two-event Rahal Letterman Lanigan deal

Servia chasing extended Rahal deal for 'best IndyCar season ever'

Oriol Servia believes 2017 could be his strongest IndyCar season yet - nearly two decades after his debut - if he can extend his current two-event Rahal Letterman Lanigan deal.

The 42-year-old Spaniard has so far secured the second RLLR seat alongside Graham Rahal - Honda's top scorer in the last two championships - for the Indianapolis 500 and the following Detroit double-header.

Servia has an on/off relationship with Bobby Rahal's team dating back to the 2009 Indy 500, but is yet to contest a full season with it.

"Being a single-car team, I think it speaks volumes that they were fighting who they were fighting," Servia told Autosport's sister publication Motorsport.com.

"I know all the engineers who work there very well and they are one of the big reasons why they are doing so well.

"So when Bobby said 'Let's just agree on the 500 and then try and put the rest of the season together,' it was pretty easy to say yes.

"If it all comes together, I could have my best year ever and we can make something out of this."

Servia last ran a full IndyCar season in 2012, and many of his recent appearances have been late call-ups.

"A couple of things happened in the last year or so that were part of why I got really reignited to do everything I could to get a full season," said Servia.

"The last three years I was involved in a Formula E project [Dragon Racing], so I drove a little bit at first and then I was managing the team and I wasn't working out.

"Then when Justin Wilson passed and Andretti Autosport asked me to drive his car [at Sonoma in 2015], I wasn't ready. I jumped in, I struggled, I suffered.

"In the race I was running really well and I still had it."

Stepping in for an unwell Will Power at Penske in St Petersburg last year also made Servia hungry for another chance.

"I got out of the car [in the warm-up] and I could hardly breathe, but [team president] Tim Cindric says 'you're P9 and you're actually P1 in the two sectors at the back,'" Servia recalled.

"So I'm like, 'Shit! If I just get the opportunity and I prepare for once...'"

Last year RLLR had rookie Spencer Pigot in its second car for what became a troubled Indy 500 hampered by an incorrect aero set-up.

Bobby Rahal believes the experienced Servia will make a huge difference.

"I love Spencer, he's got great potential in his career, but at Indy last year, you might as well have been a one-car team," he said.

"There was no information coming off that car to help. When we were having these aerodynamic issues, you need somebody to say, 'Hey, I tested it, too, and I'm not really sure' or whatever.

"We need a very experienced guy who can help lead us down the right path, and Oriol is going to be that guy."

SERVIA'S US HIGHLIGHTS

2000: Graduates to CART Champ Car as Indy Lights champion (a title he achieved without winning a race) with PPI and gets a podium in Detroit

2004: Stars as an underdog with Dale Coyne Racing, giving the team its first podium in eight years and only the second of its history at Laguna Seca

2005: Called-up from Coyne to Newman/Haas after two races when Bruno Junqueira is injured. Scores what remains his only US single-seater win in Montreal and finishes second in the championship

2007: Starts Champ Car's final season without a drive but ends up sixth in the championship via a variety of stand-in and replacement chances with Forsythe and PKV

2008: Takes ninth in the unified IndyCar Series with KV, the highest finish for a driver in one of the ex-Champ Car teams

2011: Fourth in the IndyCar championship for Newman/Haas in what turns out to be the famous team's final season

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