Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Zachary Claman DeMelo will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in a second entry for the team at the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 17.
Claman DeMelo, 19, finished fifth in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires standings this season, with a win at Road America among his four podium finishes. Claman DeMelo will drive the No. 16 Honda with primary sponsorship from Paysafe, a leading global payments provider, at Sonoma Raceway during the Sept. 15-17 race weekend, as well as participating in a series open test on the 2.385-mile permanent road course on Sept. 14
“I’m thrilled to be driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for my (Verizon) IndyCar Series debut at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma,” said Claman De Melo, a native of Montreal. “This opportunity marks an incredible moment for my career and for Canadian motorsport fans, as I’m getting that much closer to securing a fulltime position with RLLR for next season.
I want to extend a big thank you to my primary partner, Paysafe, for making a dream come true today and to Bobby Rahal for the incredible level of support he has provided towards getting me in the No. 16 Honda this season. It is an honor to drive for RLLR and I look forward to big things ahead.”
Claman DeMelo will team with full-season driver Graham Rahal on the Sonoma race weekend. Oriol Servia drove the No. 16 Honda as a second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry in this year’s Indianapolis 500 as well as the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader.
Driving for Carlin this season in Indy Lights, the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR, Claman DeMelo posted seven top-five finishes and set lap records at two tracks.
“We’re pleased that Zach has chosen Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to make his series debut,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Zach had a very good year in the Indy Lights series and we think that he has the ability to perform well in the (Verizon) IndyCar Series.
“We closely watched his performance at the recent Indy car test at Road America, where he was the quickest of the rookies testing, and we are confident that he can do a good, solid job for both himself and the team at Sonoma. Our goals for Zach are that he has a good, consistent race and gains experience, which is so important, and hopefully takes that experience to use as a stepping stone for 2018.
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma airs live at 6:30 p.m. ET Sept. 17 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. With seven drivers mathematically in contention for the title, this marks the 12th straight year that the Verizon IndyCar Series champion is being decided in the season finale.