Rahal Letterman Racing could become the next casualty of the global economic downturn, after co-owner Bobby Rahal admitted that he could not see the team seeing out an entire 2009 season.

Speaking to the Indianapolis Star, Rahal revealed that, while he was sure that RLR would be at the Bickyard for May's Indy 500, he could not show the same confidence about the other 16 races on the schedule.

Rahal confirmed that a lack of sponsorship was likely to keep the team away from the track, after erstwhile supporter Ethanol revealed that it would not be returning.

"Let's face it, the economy is such that people are being awfully careful with their money," Rahal conceded, "The environment is not good, and we're being affected by it."

While becoming the first owner to admit that his programme was in doubt, Rahal has not given up on 2009 entirely. However, with testing due to start imminently, there is a long way for the team to go to be ready, even if it could have its cars ready to run in a fortnight.

"Twenty-six years [involvement in racing is a] long time but, to be honest, unless pennies from heaven fall in our lap, I don't see, at this stage, getting the appropriate level of funding to put forth a good, competitive effort for the season," he confirmed.

"Indy is a whole different animal, but we don't want to just be there. We want to be competitive."