Reigning Japanese Formula 3 champion Ryo Hirakawa is under consideration to make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Dale Coyne Racing at Sonoma in two weeks. The 19-year-old, who is currently 11th in the Super Formula (formerly Formula Nippon) standings, is expected to test with the team before the end of the year and could sample its second car as soon as the open test on August 21st at Sonoma.
Team owner Dale Coyne confirmed that there are plans to test the Japanese driver but said that putting him into the race at Sonoma was unlikely due to a date clash. However Super Formula does not have a race scheduled on the Sonoma weekend, suggesting that any clash would be with a cameo appearance in another category.
Japan's other major series, Super GT, is also clear on Sonoma's IndyCar dates of Aug. 24-25, as is Japanese Formula 3. Multiple paddock sources at Mid-Ohio last weekend connected the teenager to the Sonoma seat.
"He'll be testing, yes, but I'm not sure about racing because he has a date conflict," Coyne said. "He's been making quick progress coming up in Japan and has had quite a bit of success so far."
Sonoma is the only race where Coyne's plans for his second car are still to be announced. It has already been confirmed that Stefan Wilson will make his debut in the car at Baltimore, with Mike Conway returning for the Houston double-header and Pippa Mann completing the lineup at Fontana.
Hirakawa dominated last year's Japanese F3 championship, claiming seven wins and six podiums on his way to the title. He currently has affiliations with Toyota, and any IndyCar deal would be arranged independently of Coyne's engine supplier Honda.