Dutch sources are again proclaiming Robert Doornbos' return to the US open-wheel racing scene, insisting the former Minardi Team USA driver has finally put pen to paper with multiple Champ Car champion Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
Initially linked to a return to the team that took him close to rookie of the year honours in 2007 - now renamed HVM Racing following the departure of Paul Stoddart and the Minardi moniker - Doornbos soon moved into the frame when it became apparent that Justin Wilson may not have the financial backing to keep his seat at NHLR, with which he took his first IndyCar Series win in Detroit last year.
A deal for the Dutchman had been expected towards the end of 2008, but dragged on while he secured the support necessary to secure the opening alongside already-confirmed Graham Rahal. Now, however, Dutch newspaper Het Algemeen Dagblad
reports that a contract has finally been signed to take Doornbos back to the USA.
The 27-year old, who made a couple of brief attempts to break into Formula One with Minardi and Jordan, was understood to be courting Renault sponsor ING to back his IndyCar bid, but details of his financial package currently remain a secret.
Rahal was confirmed to the other NHLR seat at the end of the team's first full season in the Indy Racing League, but Wilson was left out in the cold while he attempted to pull together the sponsorship to continue in the category. The Briton was briefly touted as the most suitable candidate to replace court-bound Helio Castroneves at Penske, before Will Power got the nod, and is currently understood to be exploring opportunities away from IndyCars, most likely in one of the various sportscar series.
Rumours of a potential third car at NHLR refuse to go away, however, with Doornbos' signing suggesting such a move would be likely should former favourite Sebastien Bourdais lose his F1 ride with Scuderia Toro Rosso. The Frenchman is currently vying with Takuma Sato for the seat alongside rookie Sebastien Buemi and has already hinted that he would return to the US scene should the team choose in his rival's favour.
Doornbos, meanwhile, will continue his preparations for the 2009 season by sharing the Team Netherlands entry in A1 Grand Prix with Jeroen Bleekemolen. He has recently returned from Taupo in New Zealand, where he took a brace of front row starts and appeared on the podium. He spent the end of 2008 racing in the inaugural Superleague Formula, representing Italian football club AC Milan, with which he has historical family links.