Visa issues sideline Aleshin at Road America

Mikhail Aleshin pic: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Facebook

Russian IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin will miss at least the opening day’s practice at this weekend’s Road America race due to visa issues.

Aleshin is stuck in France, where he competed in last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours, as he is currently unable to return to the United States.

Robert Wickens, who competes in DTM, will drive the #7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in Aleshin’s absence, though the team has only confirmed his participation in Friday practice.

“Since competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing last weekend, Mikhail Aleshin, driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has been unable to leave France due to immigration issues preventing him from returning to the United States,” said a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports statement.

“The executive team at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has been working diligently on Aleshin’s return to America to compete in this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix.

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“However, at this time, the Russian driver will not arrive to Road America in time for any on-track sessions scheduled for Friday, June 23.

“The team have elected for Canadian Robert Wickens to pilot the No. 7 car until the immigration issue is resolved.

“No further comments about Aleshin’s immigration status will be given at this time. The team will send further communication when an update is available.”

Robert Wickens

Wickens is well-connected to SPM through compatriot and close friend James Hinchcliffe, who drives the team’s #5 entry.

The pair were team-mates at the Canada A1GP team in 2007/08, while Wickens’ other open-wheel experience includes serving as a test driver for Marussia Virgin Racing in 2011.

Meanwhile, Esteban Gutierrez will resume his substitute role in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda for the rest of the season.

Gutierrez made his IndyCar debut in Detroit after regular driver Sebastien Bourdais was injured during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

However, the Mexican was forced to sit out the following race at Texas Motor Speedway due to his oval inexperience and lack of time to undertake rookie orientation between events.

There are three more oval races on the 2017 calendar, namely Iowa, Pocono, and Gateway.

The Kohler Grand Prix, the 10th race of the Verizon IndyCar Series, will be held from June 23-25 at Road America.

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