Chaves Takes Next Step

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' 2013 Firestone Indy Lights stable has expanded with the signing of Pro Mazda standout Gabby Chaves.

Chaves, from Bogotá, Colombia, will join Jack Hawksworth as a teammate in pursuit of the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights championship.

Nineteen-year-old Chaves will broach the next rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder after an encouraging 2012 rookie campaign in Pro Mazda, where he finished second in the championship and scored two wins, 10 podiums and two pole positions

"After a strong season in Pro Mazda, the best way to continue my career is by following the Mazda Road to Indy ladder and stepping up into Firestone Indy Lights," Chaves said. "And there's no better way to make that move than with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, a championship-winning team."

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has won the Firestone Indy Lights Championship six times, most recently with Tristan Vautier, who also entered Firestone Indy Lights by way of Pro Mazda.

"Gabby has been successful at every level he has competed in, and in 2013 he should have all the elements required to fully show what he is capable of," said Sam Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Chaves has tested twice during the off-season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

"What stands out from our initial testing is Gabby's methodical and mature approach to driving," Schmidt said. "He has a very strong desire to get to the top level in racing and understands what it will take to get there. I also think pairing Jack and Gabby as teammates will work well to push both of them to the front of the grid."

After getting a taste of what driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is like during the off-season, Chaves is looking forward to working with the team full-time.

"Working with such a hard working group of individuals during the off-season has been an honor and a great opportunity to take my career to the next level," Chaves said. "I am certain that SPM will provide all the tools I need as a driver to win races and be a championship contender."

Chaves is also eager to hone his race craft in a new car with new challenges.

"Being a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights means I'll have to put my efforts into adapting to the car and fine tuning my driving technique for this particular race car," he said. "Stepping up into a faster car with longer races means I have to put a lot of emphasis on my fitness training so that I can optimize every lap in the car to keep learning as much as possible."

Firestone Indy Lights returns to action in 2013 on March 24 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.