Gommendy to race in 2018 Indianapolis 500

Speedcafe.com

Wednesday 13th September, 2017 - 11:53am

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Tristan Gommendy

Tristan Gommendy will return to US open-wheel racing when he makes a one-off start in next year’s Indianapolis 500.

Gommendy will drive a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry as part of a partnership with his French compatriot Didier Calmels, owner of Calmels Sport.

The 38-year-old currently races in the World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 class, finishing third outright in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours with Jackie Chan DC Racing.

Gommendy drove for PKV Racing in the 2007 Champ Car World Series, earning a best result of fourth in Assen, but did not race in the Indianapolis 500 due to that being the final year of the split.

His 2017 campaign will feature a strong French flavour, with the #77 SPM car running a Tricolore colour scheme in a nod to the French flag and the project supported by pay television network Canal+.

“Competing in the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true; it was a career goal when I was racing in Champ Car,” said Gommendy.

“Even though I grew up driving open-wheel cars, everything is completely new when you get to Indy.

“The (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway and this race demand a lot of respect. Racing at 230 mph with four 90-degree turns is far from the European motorsport culture.”

Gommendy has already driven Indianapolis on a simulator and is expected to undergo an oval test in October.

Calmels helped establish the Larrousse Formula One team in 1987 and is currently a co-owner of WEC team Signatech.

Gommendy’s entry will bring SPM’s fleet to three cars for Indianapolis, though its full-time seats for 2018 have not yet been confirmed.

James Hinchcliffe is expected to stay on in car #5 but talks concerning who would be his team-mate are ongoing.

In other news, Zachary Claman De Melo will debut in a second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda at this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series finale at Sonoma.

Reports from the US have placed 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato in a second RLL entry on a full-time basis next year.

The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma takes place this weekend (September 15-17 local time).