Carlin may be a new team to the Verizon IndyCar Series, but its name is respected worldwide in motorsports and it is bringing familiar names and faces to the competition in 2018.
The team formally announced today that it is entering the Verizon IndyCar Series with a two-car operation for drivers Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball in the upcoming season. The cars will be powered by Chevrolet engines and the drivers are bringing along their sponsors from past seasons – international insurance brokerage and risk management company Gallagher for Chilton and global healthcare company Novo Nordisk for Kimball.
“We’re delighted to finally be able to announce our entry into the Verizon IndyCar Series, the result of a long-term ambition of the team,” team principal Trevor Carlin said. “To be joined on that journey in our debut season by brands such as Gallagher and Novo Nordisk, and with drivers we already have a race-winning history with in Max and Charlie, is beyond what we could have expected. By no means do we underestimate the challenge and competition that lies ahead, but I have great faith in the young and passionate team that our team manager Colin (Hale) and I have put together.”
Carlin has thrived in motorsports around the globe for two decades, succeeding in series including GP2 and GP3, British Formula 3, Formula Renault 3.5 and Porsche Supercup. Drivers the likes of Chilton, Kimball, Takuma Sato, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Robert Wickens, Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Harvey and Ed Jones have raced for the team.
Carlin made its foray into North American racing in 2015 when it joined Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder. Jones won in Carlin’s first two races at St. Petersburg in 2015 and Chilton claimed the team’s first oval win in history later that season at Iowa Speedway. While Chilton advanced to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016, Jones remained in Indy Lights with Carlin and won the championship.
Chilton’s history with Carlin dates to 2009, when he raced in British Formula 3 and teamed with current Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo. Chilton won races there as well as in GP2 (now called Formula 2) with Carlin before moving with the team for its Indy Lights program. In his two Verizon IndyCar Series seasons with Ganassi, Chilton made 33 starts with a career-best finish of fourth in this year’s Indianapolis 500, when he led a race-high 50 laps.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot now and I’m going to be bringing that over to Carlin, which haven’t done INDYCAR yet and have a lot to learn in that series,” said Chilton, 26 and a native of Reigate, England. “The good thing which gives me a lot of excitement and joy is Carlin is a team which really excels in a one-make series, and I think it’s hard to disagree that INDYCAR next year is not going to be far from a one-make series. Everyone’s basically got the same machinery apart from the engines … and I think this is where Carlin excels, so I can’t wait.”
Kimball’s history with Carlin dates even farther back. The 32-year-old Californian drove for Carlin’s British F3 team in 2005 and was part of its World Series by Renault program in 2007 when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. That led to a relationship with Novo Nordisk, which will be Kimball’s sponsor for a 10th straight season in 2018. Kimball’s entire seven-season Verizon IndyCar Series career has been spent with Chip Ganassi Racing, including his 2013 victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“What an exciting future for my racing career for this year,” Kimball said. “I have a lot of respect for Trevor as a team owner, as a successful team owner and just a great person to work in racing with. To now have Novo Nordisk as a partner with this new endeavor and a new team and to be teammates with Max again, I’m really excited. I don’t underestimate how much work there is because there is a lot of work to do.”
The team will operate out of the same shop in Delray Beach, Florida, where it houses its Indy Lights program. Both Chilton and Kimball cited the family atmosphere of the team – “I’ve never really left,” Chilton said – as a motivating factor for them to return. They also know they’ll be up against it as soon as team testing with the new universal aero kits begins next month, in advance of the 2018 season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11.
“I’m ready to do everything we can to learn,” Kimball said. “We may not be competitive (on) Lap 1 of first practice at St. Pete, but I have every confidence in Carlin, Trevor, the team, Max, myself, the engineers and mechanics, everything. Trevor knows how to win races. He’s been extremely successful in races all over the world – all different types of racing – for years. It’s the culture and the mentality that I’m really looking forward to getting back to.”
Added Chilton, “We had a win at Iowa (in Indy Lights) – my first-ever and only American victory so far – so hopefully we can get some more next year. It’s great to be with a team that has that energy to get that first win as well. It’ll be an amazing event and day when we first get that win.”