Frenchman Didier Calmels, owner of Calmels Sport, along with racing driver Tristan Gommendy, has partnered with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for an entry in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May 2018.
Gommendy, of Le Chesnay, France, will pilot a blue, white and red No. 77 Honda, in honor of his native country, following completion of his Verizon IndyCar Series’ rookie orientation program. The 38-year-old, who currently competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship, captured a third-place finish overall at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and has previously competed in Champ Car, GP2, World Series by Renault, Formula Renault and French F3.
“Competing in the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true; it was a career goal when I was racing in Champ Car,” noted Gommendy. “Even though I grew up driving open-wheel cars, everything is completely new when you get to Indy. The Speedway and this race demand a lot of respect. Racing at 230 mph with four 90° turns is far from the European motorsport culture. I know I’ll have to work very hard to get ready for next May. The first steps, including my first simulator test, went well, but much more work needs to be done. Everything so far has shown me that this partnership between Calmels Sport and SPM is extraordinary. In the United States, everything is possible … provided you earn your spot. It’s up to us to write a beautiful French story in Indiana!”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt commented, “Ric and I are pleased to announce this partnership with Didier Calmels. Compared to him, we are relative newcomers to team ownership but have similar backgrounds of success in the business world. We look forward to learning a tremendous amount from Didier regarding the business of racing and his innovative approaches which have resulted in great success in European formulas. In addition, SPM has already shown results with French drivers such as Pagenaud and Vautier, so we look forward to having the talented and experienced Tristan Gommendy join our team for 2018. He has a similar background to Simon, so we have very high expectations.”
The partnership will see major support on French television throughout the month of May with coverage on Canal +, Infosport + and C8, as well as a 52-minute documentary about the creation of the Calmels Sport IndyCar program which will air on Canal+ in France a week prior to next year’s 500-mile race.
SPM, Calmels Sport and Gommendy’s partnership will kick off later this fall with the Frenchman’s first Verizon IndyCar series oval test in October.