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Claman De Melo and Fittipaldi To Share Second Coyne Ride

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Unless there is an unexpected last-minute addition, the full-time fleet for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season was locked up on Wednesday.

The final opening at Dale Coyne Racing will be split between two pilots, with Canada’s Zach Claman de Melo and Brazil’s Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi, handling the driving chores.

Paysafe, an online payments company based in London, England, will sponsor the No. 19 Honda in all 17 events as the primary backer of the green and charcoal-liveried entry. The firm backed the Canadian veteran of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Championship, when he made his debut in the IndyCar season-closer last year at Sonoma Raceway in California. Mexican telecommunications giant Telmex, will be a co-supporter in the races in which Fittipaldi will be at the controls.

“We are very pleased to have a leading global payments provider like Paysafe come on board to the exciting sport of Indy car racing as part of their North American expansion strategy,” said team owner Dale Coyne. “With Zach and Pietro’s ever-growing skills, we look forward to a competitive 2018 season for Paysafe.”

De Melo will be at the wheel of the DCR-supporter entry in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11th and will participate in nine other rounds this campaign.

“Paysafe helped me attain a life ambition last September when I made my Verizon IndyCar Series debut in Sonoma,” said De Melo. “I am hugely grateful for their ongoing support as I prepare for the forthcoming races; I feel proud to be representing their brand again on the race track and I shall be doing all I can to get the Paysafe car into victory lane!”

Fittipaldi will make his North American racing debut at the Phoenix Grand Prix in April, before attempting to qualify for the 102nd Indianapolis 500, set for May 27th. The Brazilian’s first effort at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will come on the 25th anniversary of his grandfather’s second triumph at the Brickyard in 1993. The success is dubiously remembered for the post-race celebration, when the two-time World Driving Champion initially refused to drink the traditional milk offered in victory lane, instead opting to have orange juice, in promotion of his business entity.

In addition to becoming the third member of the famous Brazilian family to run at Indy, the ex-European World Series chauffeur will contest five additional events before the season’s end, with a focus on oval track competition.

“This is a dream come true, even more so to be racing in the Indy 500, where my family already has a history of great results. I want to thank the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing, along with my long-time sponsors, Escuderia Telmex and Paysafe for this massive opportunity and important step in my career. I’m very excited and proud to be racing on a world stage like the Verizon IndyCar Series this year,” expressed Fittipaldi.

With Coyne’s co-drivers to teammate Sebastien Bourdais now set in stone, a 24-car lineup is in play to contest the season-opening round next month, with all but two entrants expected to be trackside at every IndyCar stop in 2018.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury

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Matt Embury

An auto racing writer for over five years, Matt Embury's interest in auto racing was influenced from his father's side of the family. His first recollection of live racing attendance was in the early 1990s watching winged sprint car action at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan with his uncle and dad.

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