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2013 Indy 500: Michel Jourdain Jr. re-teams with Rahal
23 April 2013
Mexican racer Michel Jourdain Jr. is to return to the IZOD IndyCar Series next month after announcing a deal putting him in the #17 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car for next month's Indianapolis 500, with primary sponsorship from Office Depot Mexico.
It will be Jourdain's third attempt at the Indy 500. His first was back in 1996, and he didn't return again for 16 years until last year's race when he paired up with the Rahal team for the first time. Because of the long interval between races, Jourdain had to complete the mandatory Rookie Orientation Programme before being allowed to qualify, but that will not be the case this year despite not having raced in the series since.
“I am very happy to compete in the Indianapolis 500 again,” said Jourdain. "It has been a year since I have been in the car but I will take the same strategy as last year and build up speed little by little."
Joudain qualified in 22nd position for the 2012 Indy 500 and went on to finish the race in 19th place just ahead of Sebastien Bourdais, albeit a lap off the pace of the leaders. His Rahal team mate last year, Takuma Sato, challenge for the lead of the race going into the final lap but crashed while tangling with eventual race winner Dario Franchitti.
"We have good confidence because we ran pretty well last year, especially Takuma," said Jourdain, who this year will be joined at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by the team's regular lead driver Graham Rahal, son of team co=owner Bobby Rahal. "I'm sure the car will be really good and with it being a three car team we should be able to progress much faster.
"I'm happy to be working with Bobby and the guys again as well as with Bruno [Couprie] my engineer, who I worked with last year," he added, also thanking his sponsors for making his 2013 into the 97th running of the iconic race financially viable.
"I have worked with Office Depot Mexico for over 11 years now and I am thankful that they will be the primary sponsor again," he said. "I'm also happy to have Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi back again as associate sponsors. Hopefully we can give them all a great result in the Indy 500."
“I am very pleased to have Michel join the team again for the Indy 500,” said Bobby Rahal. “I think that last year for his first race back after a number of years out of an Indy car, he did a very good job.
"We made a bad pit call last year and let him down frankly which put him a lap down," Rahal recalled. "He quickly got with the program at Indy and was running competitively in the race and I think that one year later most of the rust is off and he will be much more prepared because he knows what to expect.
"From a car standpoint, we should be even more competitive than we were last year so I am really pleased to have Michel back," he added. "He is a great young guy and it's a pleasure to have him, Office Depot Mexico, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi back. It should be a good event for everybody."
Jourdain first taste of this year's car will be on Opening Day for the Indy 500 on Saturday, May 11. The Mexico City native was the youngest ever starter in a Champ Car World Series event at Long Beach in 1996 before his 20th birthday, and he subsequently competed full time in the series from 1997 until 2004. He subsequently races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 2005 until 2008 before deciding to focus on various rally and sports car series.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan's best year at Indianapolis was in 2004, when Buddy Rice started from pole position and went on to win the race for the team.
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