Oriol Servia Proves that Hard Work Pays Off

When Oriol Servia was called upon in the fall of 2015 to race the No. 25 at Sonoma Raceway in honor of Justin Wilson, he admits that he struggled. Not with the decision – that was never a question. The struggle was with the physicality of the drive itself, fighting with the car to get through the race. He wasn’t ready for race mode, and he felt it.

16c_0565-1-2He used that frustration during the offseason to drive his desire – he got a great diet going, found a new gym (where he sees Arnold Schwarzenegger on a regular basis) and developed a better workout.

“At 40, you can still do a good job if you keep the motivation, take the experience of everything you’ve learned, and stay in shape.”

That mindset and preparedness brought his next opportunity, which came at St. Petersburg in March 2016, where Servia stepped in for an under-the-weather Will Power. He was much more prepared this time around and reached P9. In his head, he felt like…, “Oh wait, I still got this!”

Servia ran with Marotti Racing/SPM at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 last season, and then he got a call during this most recent offseason from the best Honda team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan. His focus was paying off because RLL wanted him to race in their second car for the101st Indianapolis 500.

Admittedly, Servia was really pushing for a full-season IndyCar ride this year, but in conversations with Bobby Rahal they agreed on the 500. That wasn’t a closed door settlement though, as Rahal has agreed to work on trying to make the rest of the season happen for Servia. It seems that those talks are moving in a positive direction because Servia confirmed at IndyCar Media Day that in addition to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, he will drive for RLL in Detroit during the doubleheader weekend on Belle Isle, as well.

Servia ran the 500 with RLL in 2009, 2014, and 2015. In the latter season, he also contested at Long Beach, Barber, and the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis with the team.

With nothing set up (yet) prior to  the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500, that iconic race could stand as Servia’s 200th IndyCar career start. He admitted that he had just found out about that stat and quipped, “I guess I’ll just have to win it, then!”

Looking even further ahead than the season immediately in front of us, Servia commented on the 2018 Indy car renderings that were released at NAIAS in Detroit. He thinks the older car aesthetics were better looking than current, and for that reason he is a fan of what looks to be coming down the line for the universal kits.

Here’s hoping he will also be a fan of what’s coming down the line this season for him, in terms of additional race weekend opportunities with RLL. For the sake of the series and the fans, I hope we do see that full-season come to fruition. Between the experience of Servia, the drive of Graham Rahal, the talents of both, and the ability to share data between the two of them, I only see good things coming out of that pairing.

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Feature photo: Chris Owens / IndyCar