The three-time Le Mans winner becomes lead race engineer for James Hinchcliffe’s car
Ex-Audi LMP1 and Bentley engineering superwoman Leena Gade will head across the Atlantic in 2018 and try her hand in IndyCar.
She’s been signed to lead the engineering team on James Hinchcliffe’s car for Indianapolis-based Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Gade is the first female race engineer in the Verizon IndyCar series, and follows in the footsteps of Tasman Motorsport’s Diane Holl, who engineered Adrián Fernández and Tony Kanaan to CART victories in the 1990s.
Although this is Gade’s first time working in the series, she’s been a fan and understands the racing. “I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,” commented Gade. “When I was a kid, I used to watch IndyCar, especially when Nigel Mansell first came over, and I followed it quite a lot.”
The success of her own motorsport career meant she stopped following IndyCar as closely, but with key endurance engineering talents like Piers Phillips moving to SPM and Gade’s former Audi Sport colleague Justin Taylor engineering JR Hildebrand at Ed Carpenter Racing last year, the path was laid for a new challenge.
“It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it,” Gade said.
SPM’s General Manager Piers Phillips joined the team after a stint as Team Director for Strakka Motorsport, so knows the transition from world-class endurance racing to IndyCar success. “I’ve known Leena for quite some time now, and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved,” he said, adding “we’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”
With Gade’s engineering talents bolstering the pit wall and Canadian duo Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe in the hot seats, Schmidt Peterson are taking no prisoners in 2018. The revamped team’s first test in 2018 will be on January 24th at Sebring, before the IndyCar season kicks off around the streets of St. Petersburg, FL in March.