(Reuters) - Helio Castroneves, one of IndyCar racing’s most popular and successful drivers, will move to sports cars next season but is expected continue his bid for a record-equalling Indianapolis 500 win, Team Penske said on Wednesday.
Castroneves, who has driven for Roger Penske for 18 seasons, will join former Penske team mate and Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya and Dan Cameron on the Acura Team Penske programme that will race on the IMSA SportsCar Championship circuit next year.
The 42-year-old Brazilian, however, is expected to be back at the Brickyard next May driving for Penske at the Indy 500.
Castroneves is one of seven three-time Indianapolis 500 winners and is seeking to join the elite club of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.
He was denied a record-equalling win at the this year’s Indy 500 when he finished a heartbreaking second to Japan’s Takuma Sato.
“I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years,” said Castroneves. “Helping Roger, the team and everyone with Acura start this programme and build it from the ground up will be another big challenge and a great opportunity in my career.
“I’m also excited to get a chance to race again for Team Penske at the Indianapolis 500.
“That race is near and dear to my heart and trying to become the fourth four-time winner is something I really want to accomplish in my career.”
Castroneves, who joined Team Penske in 2000, has 30 wins, including Indy 500 victories in 2001, 2002 and 2009. He has the most victories in the team’s history.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis