Verizon IndyCar Series driver Mikhail Aleshin took part in his third running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend where his team finished 33rd overall. The Russian driver intended to back to the United States by now for the running of the KOHLER Grand Prix, but travel visa issues have prevented that for the time being.
Canadian driver Robert Wickens is slated to fill in for Aleshin in the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda during Friday’s practice sessions as Aleshin works to fix his visa problems.
Wickens, a DTM Touring driver who is good friends with James Hinchcliffe, recently did a ride swap with the self-proclaimed Mayor of Hinchtown in February, giving him experience behind the wheel of an Indy car.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports issued a statement saying, “Since competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing last weekend, Mikhail Aleshin, driver of the No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has been unable to leave France due to immigration issues preventing him from returning to the United States. The executive team at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has been working diligently on Aleshin’s return to America to compete in this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix. However, at this time, the Russian driver will not arrive to Road America in time for any on-track sessions scheduled for Friday, June 23.
“The team have elected for Canadian Robert Wickens to pilot the No. 7 car until the immigration issue is resolved,” the statement continued.
The contingency plan is for Wickens to practice on Friday while Aleshin is expected to be back for qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday. If Aleshin can’t have his issues resolved by the end of the weekend, Wickens will remain in the car and make his series debut.