Bruno Junqueira has found an outlet for his frustration at having to give up a confirmed place in this year's Indianapolis 500 by signing with Grand-Am outfit AIM Autosport to contest the six-hour Rolex Series race at Watkins Glen next month.
While he will still be free to watch Alex Tagliani's progress in the car he qualified for the blue riband IndyCar event this Sunday, Junqueira will join AIM regulars Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle in the #61 Riley-Ford for the Sahlen's Six Hours on 6 June as the Daytona Prototype squad bolsters its line-up in the wake of a first podium result of 2009, at Laguna Seca, last weekend
The move is not a sudden reaction to the Brazilian's disappointment at being asked to relinquish his seat at Conquest Racing, however, with AIM officials revealing that discussions between the team and 32-year old Junqueira began earlier in the year when the open-wheel veteran realised that doors were closing at various IndyCar teams.
Although he was not alone in investigating the sportscar scene as an alternative to single-seaters, Junqueira admits that, after 101 Champ Car starts and one season in the unified IndyCar Series, he needed to explore his options as he did not necessarily have access to the funds to buy a ride in the open-wheel category.
"I have thought about moving to sportscar racing for a while," the Brazilian admitted, "The competition is very close and the racing is exciting, and it seemed a logical step to add another dimension to my racing career.
"The more I looked at the Rolex Sports Car Series, the more interested I became, especially to compete with a team that can run at the front. When the opportunity came to sit down with Andrew [Bordin] and Ian [Willis] from AIM Autosport, I knew I was talking with the right team. They have a very strong programme that has proven itself on the track. I am looking forward to participating in their continued success."
The race at Watkins Glen will be Junqueira's first in a Daytona Prototype, but not his first on the circuit, as he raced in the IndyCar event there last season, recording his best finish of the season in sixth place.
"We are looking forward to having Bruno in the #61 car," Bordin commented, "He has a very impressive history of speed and it will be fun to watch what Bruno can do with a competitive car like the Riley-Ford. Bruno is a race winner and AIM has a race-winning car - a good combination going forward in this very competitive series."
Junqueira will travel to AIM Autosport's shop just outside Toronto for a seat fitting next week, and will get the chance to review data and in-car videos from last year's Sahlen's race, as well as get acquainted with the car and the crew. The #61 qualified on the front row for the 2008 edition of the Six Hours of the Glen and finished the race in seventh place.