As expected, Dario Franchitti will return to the IndyCar Series for the final race of the 2008 campaign, on the streets of Surfers Paradise in Australia, next month.
The outgoing series champion will join the man who replaced him as number one, Scott Dixon, as Target Chip Ganassi Racing fields arguably the strongest pairing in the current IRL pack for the non-championship trip down under.
Ganassi confirmed Franchitti's participation in the race - which remains a one-off for Surfers until a dispute over dates for possible inclusion on the full IRL schedule can be resolved - on Saturday, with the Scot stepping back from an abortive switch to NASCAR tol fill fellow Briton Dan Wheldon's seat in the #10 Dallara-Honda Dallara.
“I'm really looking forward to getting into the Target IndyCar and to do so in Surfers Paradise, which is one of my favourite tracks, is a big bonus,” Franchitti said, “I'm excited to start working with the team, and Scott as my new team-mate. I think this will give us a good jumpstart on the 2009 season.”
Franchitti was the 1999 winner of the CART-sanctioned event at Surfers Paradise, raising the stakes in that year's title battle with erstwhile Ganassi NASCAR team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya. The duel took a dramatic turn down under as Franchitti stormed to victory from pole to unseat the rookie sensation at the head of the championship.
This year's Surfers Paradise race will give Franchitti a chance to reacclimatise himself with the IndyCar ahead of a full-time return to the series in 2009. The Scot won both the 2008 Indianapolis 500 and series title with Andretti Green racing before defecting to NASCAR.