Claman DeMelo replaces Fittipaldi for Indy GP

Zachary Claman DeMelo during practice for the most recent IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park

Zachary Claman DeMelo has been named as Pietro Fittipaldi’s replacement at Dale Coyne Racing for this weekend’s IndyCar Grand Prix in Indianapolis after the latter’s crash at Spa.

Fittipaldi broke his left leg and right ankle when he hit the wall at Eau Rouge during qualifying for Round 1 of the World Endurance Championship.

He and Claman DeMelo are this year sharing the #19 DCR Honda, which the Brazilian had been scheduled to race in both Indianapolis races this month.

“I’m extremely excited to get to race at the IndyCar Grand Prix this weekend aboard the No. 19 Paysafe car, but I’m sad that it’s under these circumstances,” said Claman DeMelo.

“My thoughts are first and foremost with Pietro. You never want to see that happen to a competitor, much less a team-mate.

“Getting to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always special. I enjoyed racing there in Indy Lights and I can’t wait to now get a chance to drive there aboard an IndyCar.”

There is no word yet on who will drive Car #19 in the Indianapolis 500 or the Texas 600 on June 9, both of which Fittipaldi is set to miss.

DeMelo had already been named for the two-race Detroit event which takes place in the weekend between, but reports from the United States suggest that he would be unlikely to race in the 500 due to his lack of oval experience.

Meanwhile, Juncos Racing has announced that it will field former Force India test driver Alfonso Celis Jnr in the Road America IndyCar race in late-June.

The Mexican, who drove for the team in Indy Lights at Barber Motorsports Park last month, will pilot the #32 Chevrolet which Kyle Kaiser and Rene Binder have been sharing in a part-time campaign for the Argentine-born outfit.

“I’m very excited to be able to make my Verizon IndyCar Series debut,” said Celis Jnr.

“This is something that I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid and something that we have worked for many years to achieve.

“I’ve had a lot of experience in Europe with high downforce and high horsepower cars, both in my testing duties in Formula 1 and in my seasons at World Series V8 3.5, so I feel ready to take on this new challenge.”

Kaiser and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves’ presence this weekend makes for a 24-car field for the fifth race of the season.

Practice and qualifying on the Indianapolis road course take place on Friday local time (late Friday into Saturday morning AEST).

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