Oriol Servia

Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval Promoter Test participant list

Four questions (one for each turn of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval) with Oriol Servia, who will attempt to make his seventh Indianapolis 500 Mile Race start in the No. 32 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. Servia is scheduled to participate in the May 3 Promoter Test with the new superspeedway aerodynamic packages. He has a best finish of fourth in the Indianapolis 500 in 2012 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing:

Q: Number 32? RLL’s second entry usually has been No. 16. Why did you request 32?

A: Well, to start with, it’s twice as good. Also, it’s because I’ve wanted No. 32 since 1999 because I won the Indy Lights championship that year with No. 32. Every team I’ve been with always has had a reason to not have No. 32, so finally I was happy that Bobby (Rahal) said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ Plus, the first car that won the Indy 500 was No. 32.

(Editor’s note: No. 32 has won the Indianapolis 500 in 1911 with Ray Harroun driving and 1927 with George Souders. Most recently, Mario Moraes started 13th and finished 31st in the 2010 race in the No. 32 entry).

Q: You competed for RLL in the 2009 Indy 500 and in four races last season, including the 500 Mile Race. Familiarity with the team is a bonus?

A: It’s a race that if you think you can win you have to do everything you can to be there. I was hoping I could do the ‘500’ with a top team. It’s a race that I always felt was designed for me. I like ovals, especially Indy, and I like long races because it takes me a while to warm up and get the best out of me. I’m happy that Bobby, Mike (Lanigan) and Dave (Letterman) could put a program together for me. Last year we did it together and struggled a little but still finished 11th and for this year they hired a lot of people that I’ve worked with in the past. It wasn’t a surprise to me that Graham (Rahal) has been one of the strongest Hondas out there. I think we’ll be really strong, and maybe we’ll do more races after that.

The whole group – from owners to engineers to Graham – is very natural to me. We’re going to hit the ground running for sure. We’ll be strong.

Q: What are your thoughts about the new aerodynamic bodywork packages, the speeds and competition at Indianapolis?

A: We’re going to be faster and that is always good for the fans. How competitive will we be at Indy? Nobody really knows because Honda doesn’t know what Chevy has and Chevy doesn’t know what Honda has until we get on track. I’ve worked with both manufacturers so I know how hard both of them work with their engines and now their aero kits. We’ll have two weeks of practice so I know we’ll get the best out of the package. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

Q: Tell us about your Formula E involvement. How did it come about, what excites you about the project and tell us about your role as technical and commercial partnerships managing director with Dragon Racing?

A: It’s been organic and has evolved since the beginning. I’ve known Alejandro Agag, who owns the series, for a long time and people who work for him, and 18 months ago I told him I would help them get in touch with U.S. teams and U.S. drivers because I’ve been here so long. As I learned more about it, I liked the concept and I could see that it was relevant and have a future. When I told Jay Penske about it, he loved it and we decided to partner up and try to get a franchise. I’ve always liked working with engineers and I thought I could be involved in the team.

I was not supposed to really drive, just do a test and see how it went. It doesn’t have a lot of power, but all the technology around it is interesting so that made want to keep driving. I was doing well; I got a pole in the second race. But all along we wanted to just hire two younger guys and I could focus more on moving the team in the right direction. Like I got the pole in the second race and the performance is there, but we kept making silly mistakes that kept us off the podium. That’s when Jay decided I would focus on making the team better and I lead the team in a technical and commercial way. It’s something I’ve always been interested in doing, and because the schedule is non-demanding I was hoping I could do the ‘500.’