Pippa Mann has been cleared to race at Kentucky Speedway for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the next IndyCar Series race on October 2, following the back injury she sustained in a crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in August.
Mann had not been scheduled to take part in the road course events in the intervening weeks since suffering an end-plate fracture of the C7 vertebra at Loudon, but initial recovery estimates of up to six weeks meant that the Kentucky return had initially seemed in doubt.
"Being cleared to return to the cockpit is like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders," admitted Mann. "I was worried about whether I would heal quickly enough to be cleared in time for my next two races, and now that concern has finally been put to rest."
Mann was particularly keen to ensure she was fit in time for Kentucky, having won there in the Indy Lights support series in 2010.
Mann will be joined at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing two weeks later at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by Jay Howard, in what will be his third appearance in this year's season following on from runs in May's Indianapolis 500 and the Texas Motor Speedway double-header in June.
"It's great to be back with Service Central and Rahal Letterman Lanigan," said the 30-year-old from Basildon, Essex. "We had a strong run at Indianapolis and a bit of bad luck at Texas so we are looking to finish off the season on a high note in Vegas heading into 2012 with the new car and the expanded schedule."
"Vegas will be a free-for-all on a very fast track, but Jay has never shied away from close racing and we expect to be competitive with both RLL cars in the season finale," said team co-owner and former IndyCar racer Bobby Rahal.
Ahead of the Kentucky race, Mann will be taking part in a scheduled eight-hour testing session at the speedway on Friday September 23 along with ten other drivers, including championship contenders Will Power and Dario Franchitti - neither of whom has won a race here. Other drivers attending the test session are Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter and Wade Cunningham.
Another British driver - and a fellow Indy Lights graduate - will also be running alongside Mann at the test, as Conquest Racing have opted to give a trial to Dillon Battistini.
Battistini has made 19 starts in Indy Lights since his début in 2008 and has four victories under his belt including Kentucky and the prestigious Freedom 100 at Indianapolis. He may be handed an IndyCar start at next week's Kentucky race by Conquest if this week's test goes well.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity to run my rookie oval test with Conquest Racing," he said. "I haven't been in a race car in a long time so this will be a good opportunity to ground some of the rust off and get back to speed."