Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that its will enter the No. 16 car for Luca Filippi in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers and the Honda Indy Toronto.
Associate sponsorship for the program will come from IMPCO and FightSMA. Graham Rahal is the team's full-season driver in the No. 15 National Guard car.
“I’m extremely excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing because there is a lot of respect between myself and Bobby,” said Filippi, 28, about team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We have been trying to find a way to work together for a long time and to finally have it happen is a great feeling. I really love the IndyCar Series. Since I first drove the car and experienced the atmosphere of the series, I have loved everything about it and can’t wait to get back in a car.”
Filippi made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in 2013 for Bryan Herta Autosport at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and also contested the street races in Baltimore and the doubleheader races in Houston. He posted a best start and finish of eighth and 10th, respectively, in Race 1 in Houston.
“We tried to get Luca into the team a few years back and even went so far as to build a seat but we were unable to find the funding,” Rahal said. “In the meantime, he went to Bryan Herta’s team and showed what he can do in the few races he ran for them. He has been successful in GP2 in Europe, amongst other series, for a number of years so I don’t think there is any question that he has the pace to run toward the front. On top of that, he is a real gentleman and we are looking forward to working with him and seeing how he can help the team progress.”
Filippi, 28, of Savigliano, Italy, spent the six seasons in GP2. He was runner-up to champion Romain Grosjean with three wins in 2011. Filippi was also a test driver for Honda in Formula One from 2007 until December 2008, when the manufacturer withdrew from the sport. While working toward a return to Indy car racing, Filippi has been part of Sky Sports’ broadcast team for its Formula One coverage since last year.
“I know the team is capable and has potential but it was good to see Graham on the podium in Detroit and so close to the win,” added Filippi about Rahal’s second-place finish in Dual 1 in Detroit on May 31. “That proved the car is working very well on a street course and I really expect to have a good feeling from the car again. I really enjoyed the Houston course last year so the expectation is high for a good result.
"I don’t know the Toronto circuit but coming from another street course before that, I hope I can build on what we learn in Houston and learn the Toronto course quickly. The circuit looks very, very tricky and demanding but from what I know the atmosphere all around the Toronto weekend looks amazing. I can’t wait to be involved.”
The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston races are June 28 and 29 on a 1.7-mile course at Reliant Park. RLL co-owner Mike Lanigan is the promoter of the event. The Honda Indy Toronto races are July 19 and 20 on the streets of Exhibition Place.