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The Brazilian duo that ended Penske’s longest drought

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There isn’t a one who had fairly the influence on the profession of Helio Castroneves as Gil de Ferran did. The 2 Brazilians first met within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. Castroneves joined Paul Stewart Racing for British System 3 in 1995 simply as de Ferran left the squad’s System 3000 operation for his rookie CART season, they usually turned team-mates in 2000 for a struggling Crew Penske, which had failed to supply a win or pole in both of the earlier two seasons in CART.

On the time, de Ferran was already an achieved race winner, whereas Castroneves was nonetheless in search of his maiden victory at that stage, having joined the crew from Hogan Racing after the demise of de Ferran’s supposed team-mate Greg Moore at Fontana.

“Once I was younger, I by no means gained a race and he form of was battling for championships,” remembers Castroneves. “Lastly I mentioned, ‘I’ve acquired to comply with this man. I’ve acquired to be taught from this man.’ And he undoubtedly put me on the correct path.”

PLUS: The dramatic changes that curtailed Penske’s drought

From 2000 till de Ferran’s retirement in 2003, the duo led Crew Penske to a staggering 20 race wins and 25 pole positions, with de Ferran claiming back-to-back CART championships in 2000 and 2001 previous to the crew switching over to the Indy Racing League. In the meantime, Castroneves turned the primary driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in his first two begins (2001 and 2002), and de Ferran gained the 2003 version of ‘The Biggest Spectacle in Racing’ to make it three in a row at Indy for Crew Penske.

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Photograph by: Walt Kuhn / Motorsport Images

Castroneves and de Ferran notched up a hat-trick of Penske wins on the Indy 500 between them in 2001-2003

These early days arrange a lifelong friendship. For Castroneves, even with a plethora of high quality team-mates to select from, de Ferran nonetheless stands out.

“I turned good pals with Gil,” says Castroneves, who gained a record-equalling fourth Indy 500 in 2022 for Meyer Shank Racing and has claimed victory in every of the final three seasons on the Daytona 24 Hours. “I discovered loads from him at first of my Penske days. We’re nonetheless pals to today, so if I’ve to choose one it’s him.

“I had great team-mates. Ryan Briscoe was one other unbelievable man. Will [Power] was one other. Simon [Pagenaud]. It’s laborious to simply decide one” Helio Castroneves

Friday favorite: Gil de Ferran picks his favourite team-mate

“However I had great team-mates. Ryan Briscoe was one other unbelievable man – I nonetheless like him very a lot. Will [Power] was one other. Simon [Pagenaud]. It’s laborious to simply decide one. I all the time acquired alongside nicely with my team-mates.

“Even Sam Hornish Jr, we had a variety of competitors previous to being team-mates and contained in the crew, however ultimately we had been form of on good phrases with one another, which I like. So, [with] all of them, I didn’t have any points.”

The pair remain firm friends over 20 years on since they first became team-mates

Photograph by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images

The pair stay agency pals over 20 years on since they first turned team-mates

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