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Doornbos out, Philippe in at IRL heads for Mid-Ohio.

After the prolonged 'will he, won't he' hype surrounding his move to the IndyCar Series, Robert Doornbos has called time on his deal with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, despite being in contention for rookie of the year honours.

The Dutchman sits a point ahead of main rival Rafael Matos following last weekend's Kentucky round, but is poised to quit the ultra-successful NHLR operation with immediate effect.

The Indianapolis Star newspaper reports that Doornbos has confirmed the split, and intends to pursue another ride within the series, most likely with HVM Racing. Keith Wiggins team ran the Dutchman in the 2007 Champ Car series, leading to a brace of victories, but could not reach a deal to bring him back for 2008, and then saw the sometime F1 driver opt for NHLR in 2009. However, despite the team's pedigree, and his position in the rookie standings, Doornbos has struggled this season, with a best of ninth place, which he achieved three times in twelve races.

Although no official announcement has been received, Doornbos is expected to take his family-funded programme to HVM, possibly in time for this weekend's Mid-Ohio road course round, where he will form a two-car line-up alongside EJ Viso. It remains to be seen whether NHLR will replace Doornbos or decide to run a single-car operation for Graham Rahal, although a certain Sebastien Bourdais is currently on the market, having been dropped by the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 team. The Frenchman contributed hugely to NHLR's previous success, claiming the final four Champ Car titles prior to unification with the IndyCar Series.

HVM has the capability to run two cars, having fielded Nelson Philippe alongside Viso at Indianapolis, and the Doornbos story comes just as the Frenchman reveals that he will return to the IRL with Conquest Racing.

Running the same I Drive Green campaign as he took to the Brickyard, the 23-year old will contest the Infineon Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway rounds with Eric Bachelart's team, which recently announced that it would also make the trip to Motegi to run Kosuke Matsuura.

Like Doornbos and HVM, Philippe will be making a return to a former team, having piloted a Conquest car in six Champ Car races in 2004 and a full season in 2005, before returning for the final two races of the 2007 campaign.

“We've always maintained an excellent relationship with Nelson and we're very happy to have him back with us once again,” Bachelart commented, “We first had Nelson with us when he was an 18-year old rookie, and it's been nice to see him mature into the race car driver he is today. He had his first taste of the Dallara back in May on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and we look forward to seeing him back in an IndyCar at Infineon Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“We're also excited to be promoting and partnered with such an innovative and interesting project as the I Drive Green programme, and are looking forward to working with Nelson to go racing full-time in 2010.”




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Indy Racing League. 9 May 2009. Pole Day. Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapois, Indiana. Nelson Philippe.
Indy Racing League.  July 31-Aug. !, 2009. Kentucky Speedway. Sparta, Ky. USA. Robert Doornbos.
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, celebrates winning the poll position during qualifying Friday, October 18, 2013 for Saturday night’s IndyCar finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California. (Photo Credit: Perry Nelson for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, races to victory Sunday October 6, 2013 during the Grand Prix of Houston IndyCar Race 2 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Perry Nelson for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, races to victory Sunday October 6, 2013 during the Grand Prix of Houston IndyCar Race 2 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Perry Nelson for Chevy Racing)
Simona De Silvestro, driver of the #78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, celebrates her second place finish Saturday October 5, 2013 during the Grand Prix of Houston IndyCar Race 1 in Houston, Texas. It was De Silvestro’s first-career podium finish, and her IZOD IndyCar Series career-best finish. (Photo Credit: Perry Nelson for Chevy Racing)
Simona De Silvestro, driver of the #78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, celebrates her second place finish Saturday October 5, 2013 during the Grand Prix of Houston IndyCar Race 1 in Houston, Texas. It was De Silvestro’s first-career podium finish, and her IZOD IndyCar Series career-best finish. (Photo Credit: Perry Nelson for Chevy Racing)
EJ Viso, driver of the #5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Andretti Autosport HVM Chevrolet, races to a fifth-place finish Sunday, July 14, 2013 during the IZOD IndyCar Series Race Two in the Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
EJ Viso in the ¢5 Andretti-HVM car on the seventh day of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Friday May 17, 2013. (Picture Credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
EJ Viso on track during practice at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013 (Picture Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
EJ Viso on track during practice at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013 (Picture Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
EJ Viso during practice at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013 (Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
EJ Viso during practice at St Petersburg, Florida - March 2013. (Photo Credit: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter celebrates winning the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championship season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (c) 2012, Perry Nelson (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Ana Beatriz #25 Team Ipiranga Andretti Autosport Conquest Racing during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 12-17 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana USA. (c) 2012 Dan R. Boyd LAT Photo USA. (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Simona de Silvestro in the #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing car  during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
HVM Racing`s Simona de Silvestro testing at Sebeing - February 2012. [Photo Credit: HVM Racing]
Conquest owner Eric Bachelart [Photo Credit: Ron Mcqueeney for IndyCar Media]

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Don - Unregistered

August 05, 2009 2:19 PM

Robert's lack of pace has been a surprise this year. He's really struggled on the ovals, and not done much better on the street & road courses. Rahal has performed much better than him. Bobby D is finding out that the IRL has some very good drivers and some large teams to compete against. I don't believe he is going to do any better at HVM, even if he gets back with his Champ Car engineer (Cannon).

JJ - Unregistered

August 05, 2009 1:15 PM

I wonder what this has to do with the company of his manager going bust...But I think it's a good move for Doornbos to leave the team, provided he can go to HVM that is. It's clear that NHLR is not as competitive as I'm sure he would have thought and hoped. If I'm not mistaken he ditched the ride at HVM in the first place because he probably thought NHLR would be better, but he has been playing 2nd fiddle to Rahal all year. RD might not be the fastest driver out there, but his results over the years have been pretty decent. I don't believe he's that much slower than Rahal on equal terms. But maybe he can't drive these Indycars. I guess we will find out now.



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