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IndyCar Season Preview: Luca Filippi

Photo credit: Jake Archibald (CC BY 2.0)

#30 Dallara-Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Born: August 9, 1985

Home: Savigliano, Italy

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Filippi ranked second in last year’s GP2 championship, the top feeder series to Formula 1. Switching to Scuderia Coloni midway through the season, he won three times and finished in the top six in seven of eight races. He also finished second in the Auto GP championship with Super Nova Racing on the strength of one win and six podiums.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: Filippi’s switch to Coloni in GP2 came after a disastrous first half of the season with Super Nova. Save for a third and fourth place finish in the two Monaco events, his record was underwhelming, with four retirements and four finishes outside of the points in 10 total races.

SEASON OUTLOOK: After team owner Bobby Rahal struck a deal with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to give them his second engine contract and get them on the grid for the start of the season, the second Rahal car became a deal from the Indianapolis 500 on. Negotiations with Filippi had not yet been finalized in the first place, and it’s possible that missing a chunk of races lowered the price enough to get the deal done to bring the Italian to America.

Filippi has hung around GP2 for the past six years, alternating good years with bad ones, but he broke out last year by more than doubling his career win total in only an eight-race stretch. His extended GP2 stay also means that he’s been in Dallara equipment for much of his career, which may make his transition to American racing a bit easier. He’ll have much to learn by watching teammate Takuma Sato from the paddock in the early rounds of the season, and the hope is that when Rahal’s second Honda engine arrives, Filippi will have observed enough to know how to get around.

– Chris Leone

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