By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
After winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times (2011, 2012 and 2014) as a chief engineer for Audi, Leena Gade will now be on the prowl to win the second part of the heralded racing triple crown as she has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer on James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda.
Gade joins SPM after a stint at Bentley as a motorsport project manager following Audi’s withdrawal from prototype racing. She is the first woman to be a lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.
The Briton replaces Allen McDonald who joined Ed Carpenter Racing during the offseason and will attend the team’s first 2018 test at Sebring in late January.
“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,” said Gade in a team release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch IndyCar, especially when Nigel Mansell first came over, and I followed it quite a lot. During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the US to work in it like Piers [Phillips, General Manager of SPM]. I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Piers Phillips, General Manager of SPM noted, “There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization. I’ve known Leena for quite some time now, and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”