Gil de Ferran has joined forces with Luczo Dragon Racing to create a new IZOD IndyCar Series team that will compete in this year's championship, it was announced on Tuesday.
The 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner and double Champ Car champion (left) retired from racing for the second time last year after competing with his own squad in the American Le Mans Series. He had originally hoped to run his own IndyCar program this season, but has now merged his business with Steve Luczo and Jay Penske, co-owners of Luczo Dragon Racing.
De Ferran will serve as co-owner, president and managing partner of the new Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports outfit. Luczo Dragon took Raphael Matos to the 2009 Rookie of the Year title, and the Brazilian will stay on with the reorganized team for 2010.
"This is a hugely exciting announcement," de Ferran said. "Our aim is to put together a state-of-the-art motorsports operation with a sharp focus in high technology and developing the science of performance.
"We have a very talented driver in Raphael Matos who has been a winner at every level he raced and showed great potential already last year, becoming Rookie of the Year. The foundation is set and with our collective resources and leadership, we hope to break new ground and become one of the most competitive teams in the IZOD IndyCar series."
Luczo Dragon made its debut at the 2007 Indy 500, where it took fifth with Ryan Briscoe. It ran a partial season with Tomas Scheckter in 2008 before entering the full season for the first time last year with Matos.
"We have been talking to Gil about this for some time and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to combine our resources," Luczo said. "Gil has the experience of working with major manufacturers and leading racing teams all over the world and we feel we can bring the essential business acumen and managerial expertise to the operation.
"Our skills are highly complementary and we all have the same vision and ambitions. We're very excited about the direction of our team."
Penske added: "Gil and I have known each other for 10 years – when he started racing for my father. Gil has always had ambitions outside of the car and Steve and I have been talking to him about working together for some time. Luczo Dragon Racing and de Ferran Motorsports will live together. We all share the same vision for the future in this industry and with our combined skills we are confident that we can make a real success story of this new venture. We have the resources and the knowledge to build a great motorsport organization together."
De Ferran said the team was working on trying to run two cars during the upcoming season.
"Right now, we are running one car with Raphael Matos, but are working hard on expanding our program as this will increase our ability to improve and to extend our resources. We hope to have those details ironed out very soon," he added.