Celis Jr heads to US for 2018 Indy Lights campaign

Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India
© XPB 

Former Force India test and development driver Alfonso Celis Jr is heading to the United States to compete in Indy Lights in 2018.

Celis has made a number of free practice appearances for Force India over the last two seasons. The most recent was at his home event, the Mexican Grand Prix in October.

However, Celis was since parted with the team, which has now appointed Nicholas Latifi to take over the role in 2018. Celis, was third in last year's World Series Formula V8 3.5 series, was left looking for a new challenge.

The 21-year-old duly announced this weekend that he had signed a full-season deal to race for Indy Lights team Juncos Racing.

"I’m very excited to be joining Juncos Racing," said Celis. "I have known the team for a long time. It was finally time to do something together.

"The Indy Lights championship has proven to be very competitive," he continued.

"I’m confident that with my experience and with the success that the Juncos team has had we should be able to be a contender for the championship right away.

"I was impressed when I arrived at the workshop," he added. "It is comparable to the level of any Formula 1 workshop. The team is here to win just like me. It's very professional."

"I am thrilled to bring Alfonso on board for our 2018 Indy Lights team," responded team owner Richard Juncos.

"He has incredible talent behind the wheel, which we first had the chance to see when he tested with our team in the Pro Mazda car back in 2013.

"Alfonso brings a lot of experience to the series after spending most of his time running in open-wheel series throughout Europe," he added. "I am confident he will be a top contender this year for the championship."

Celis also revealed that he'd had an offer to join the senior IndyCar Series in 2018, although he did not reveal which team had approached him.

"There were options in IndyCar," he said. However, he insisted that starting in Indy Lights had been "the right thing to do".

"There is an adaptation process that I must go through," he explained. "I must also have my feet on the ground and recognize that there is a long way to go."

Celis said IndyCar remained his ultimate racing ambition in the US.

"Being in IndyCar has always been something I’ve dreamed of," he said. "I grew up watching the series from Mexico and this will be a great step towards that goal.

"I can’t wait to be on top of the podium with the Mexican flag on my shoulders!"

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