Bathgate’s Paul di Resta moved closer to a return to the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) next season after the IndyCar vacancy at Ganassi Racing was filled.
The 27-year-old Scot, replaced in Force India’s Formula One team this week by Sergio Perez – who brought with him around €15 million in sponsorship – had been talked about as a replacement in IndyCar for his cousin Dario Franchitti.
But following Franchitti’s enforced retirement through injury, team boss Chip Ganassi today confirmed he has signed the Australian driver Ryan Briscoe for the 2014 IndyCar season. While Briscoe will drive the No 8 Ganassi car, Brazilian driver Tony Kanaan – winner of the Indy500 this year, and a close friend of Franchitti – has been given the honour of taking the Scot’s No 10 car.
Though Di Resta had initially been linked with a switch to IndyCar, he admitted he had reservations about the safety standards in the US open-wheel racing series.
And Ganassi himself admitted the number of high-speed oval races next year, and the relative lack of testing opportunities, meant that his priority was to sign someone with IndyCar experience.
The IndyCar announcement comes 24 hours after Sauber announced it had signed Adrian Sutil as it’s No 1 driver for next year’s F1 season.
The fact the German was outpaced, outperformed and outscored, 48 points to 29, by Di Resta – with whom he was a team-mate at Force India this season – appears to have counted for nothing.
What counts now clearly more than talent, is cash. While Di Resta carries no financial sponsorship package with him, Sutil has around £1m to boost the team…and essentially pay his own wages.
With Sauber now expected to confirm Mexican Esteban Gutierrez as Sutil’s team-mate, it is now almost definite that Di Resta will return to DTM – a title he won (pictured) in 2010 – with Mercedes.
“I’m not in a position to say what I’ll be doing next year,” the Scot said, “but one thing I know definitely is that I’ll be in a competitive car, in a series I know I’ll be capable of not only winning races, but also the championship.”
Of course, there also remains the possibility Di Resta could make the switch to sportscars, and the chance of racing in the Le Mans 24-Hours.
At the moment, that appears an outside bet. But with former F1 ace Mark Webber moving to Porsche to lead its Le Mans challenge, and fellow Scot, three-times Le Mans winner and recently crowned world champ Allan McNish at the top of the sport, it has to be an attractive long-term goal.