Robert Wickens will bring considerable talent to his new Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Verizon IndyCar Series team next season, and coming off of six years in the DTM championship, the Canadian would also like to maintain ties to the world of sports car racing.
IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and specifically, its burgeoning Prototype class where Daytona Prototype internationals and WEC LMP2s come together, is where the former Mercedes-AMG driver would like to land a seat for the endurance events on the calendar.
“If I could be the third driver for a team, ideally in a DPi or P2, that’s what I’ve been searching for because I’d like to go for the overall win,” Wickens told RACER. “Mercedes and I have left on good terms, and hopefully we can find each other again in the future, maybe in GT racing, but if I look in North America, with the IndyCar season as my primary championship, getting to do Daytona and Sebring before our season begins, and Petit Le Mans after it’s over would be ideal.”
With six DTM wins to his credit and a strong relationship with Mercedes, placing Wickens in a customer Mercedes-AMG GT3 for IMSA’s North American Endurance Cup rounds would also be relatively easy to orchestrate. But with his driver rating, the Pro-Am GT Daytona class poses a unique challenge.
“I’m a Platinum, so with the way the ratings work, it isn’t ideal in GTD with how a team would need to adjust its other drivers to have me in the car,” he said. “I just know that being a Platinum isn’t good for GTD, so I’m concentrating on prototypes.”
Like his dear friend and new IndyCar teammate James Hinchcliffe, venturing out for sports car events that won’t conflict with his day job will remain a priority. It’s good to know a well-rounded driver like Wickens, with a big new opportunity to drive for the Honda-powered SPM IndyCar team, wants to stay true to the diverse racing background that ushered him into the open-wheel series.
“I love to race; I’d be out every weekend if I could,” he said. “These [marquee sports car events] are bucket list races for me. And there are other races I’d like to do – some of the international 24-hour GT3 races – that I couldn’t really consider the last two years because I was fighting for a DTM championship. If I can start the year by getting myself into a good car at Daytona, I’ll be a happy guy.”