Hildebrand Ready for 100th Indy 500; Optimistic about future

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Kobe Lambeth

As previously announced, JR Hildebrand will return to the Indianapolis 500 with Ed Carpenter Racing as he will have another attempt at one of the most prestigious prizes in all of motorsports.

“It’s the holy grail, particularly for open-wheel guys but I think really for almost anyone on 4 wheels,” said Hildebrand.

“In doing it, you become aware of just how many ways there are to NOT win, how many things you have to not screw up, let alone things you need to do exceptionally well. But it’s for racing immortality, which makes it all worthwhile.”

The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is going to be an epic event. With Hildebrand joining a strong lineup of himself, Josef Newgarden, and Ed Carpenter, look for all three ECR entries to challenge the likes of Penske and Ganassi.

“I’ve had a great experience with Ed Carpenter and his team over the last two years, notching Top 10s in each of my efforts with the team at Indy,” said Hildebrand.

“I know from that experience that I can win in one of their cars, and I think they feel the same way.  Last year we grew the program to include the Angie’s List GP, and we were looking to grow to even more races from there coming into 2016. Everyone was very much on board with that, but as often happens in racing, we had to manage some financial constraints and refocus on getting things at least just lined back up for the same program we ran last year.  So it was an ongoing conversation since Indy last year that I’m very glad finally came together.”

Ed Carpenter Racing is looking to expand JR Hildebrand’s schedule, but will it be possible to add more races? Will Hildebrand return to IndyCar full-time in the immediate future?

“It’s difficult to say – it’s not been for lack of interest, it’s a conversation I have often with teams, but at the end of the day it comes down to funding in most of the situations that have existed recently,” Hildebrand responded.

“I’m confident based on the opportunities that I’ve discussed with people that I can be back racing full-time very soon.”

Although there is a lot of uncertainty about Hildebrand’s plans beyond the Indianapolis 500, he remains focused on the task at hand: winning the Indianapolis 500 and proving that he belongs in the series full-time.

“Well, I feel that I’m racing for a team that can definitely put a car on track capable of winning, with a good crew and good engineers,” said Hildebrand.

“So, my personal expectation is to have a shot at winning the race – we will prepare with that clearly in focus.  I expect the race itself to be one of the most impressive events anyone has ever seen.”

2016 appears to be a special season in the making for JR Hildebrand and where he will head in his young racing career. If he is unable to return to IndyCar full-time soon, what will happen to the talented California-born open wheel racer?

“There’s a lot of interesting racing out there, from the WEC to Global RallyCross,” said Hildebrand.

“I’d jump in just about anything, and am looking forward to opportunities to do so over the coming year.”

This is just pure speculation, but how cool would it be to see an American sensation named JR Hildebrand to have the opportunity to drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship later this season in an American muscle car?

It was recently announced that Larbre Competition will run a driver evaluation program for potential future factory drivers for Corvette Racing. Could this possibly be Hildebrand’s ticket to sportscar racing as a future Corvette factory ace?

I hope to see JR Hildebrand return to IndyCar as a full-time driver, but it would very intriguing to watch him perform in a Corvette C7R on the world stage.

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Derani Ready for Anything

Photo: José Mário Dias

By: Kobe Lambeth

At last weekend’s Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring, Tequila Patrón ESM’s Pipo Derani put together a spectacular drive as he led the team, along with co-drivers, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek, and Ed Brown to overall victory.

Tequila Patrón ESM is entering the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season riding a huge wave of momentum after sweeping the “36 Hours of Florida.” Pipo Derani is definitely ready to showcase his talents on the world stage for the second straight season.

“I expect to continue to be competitive to win races in WEC which is a totally different championship then IMSA with different tires, engine, and rules,” said Derani.

The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship’s top class is “Prototype”, which consists of Daytona Prototypes, LMP2 machinery, and the Deltawing. They use spec Continental Tires. Also, pit stop procedures differ from ACO rules where you cannot change tires and refuel at the same time. In the FIA World Endurance Championship, “LMP2” is the second-tier class and is “open-tire.” The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, two great series for stars like Derani to rise.

After racing full-time on the world stage last season, Derani made his fantastic debut in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring. If you witnessed those two events, then you saw a star born and something very rare: one of the most spectacular performances by an individual in their first attempt at two of the crown jewel races in American sportscar racing.

Derani stated, “Daytona and Sebring are not only the biggest races in America but also considered classics all over the World. To be able to become the first driver in history to win both in the first attempt and same year is a pretty special feeling.”

“I give all the credit to the team that gave me all that I needed to understand quickly those circuits and rules.”

JM1_5909

Photo: José Mário Dias

After a spectacular performance at Daytona and Sebring, do you think Pipo Derani has attracted some factory LMP1 teams or potential Daytona Prototype International (DPi) programs?

Derani explained, “That’s something my manager takes care of and all I want to do is continue to perform for Patron as we still have a long year ahead in WEC.”

“I honestly hope I can continue at the highest level possible to help them to win races in WEC. Like I said is a different championship with different engine, tires, and rules and we need to be on top of each topic to be up there.”

Wherever Pipo Derani’s career takes him, he will be successful and help make others around him better. If you have not heard of this talented young man, you certainly will as he will continue to prove himself against the best sportscar drivers in the world.