Despite being indicted on charges of tax evasion, Helio Castroneves will
be able to take part in this month's non-championship IndyCar Series event in Australia.
The Brazilian appeared, shackled, in court last week, but has had his bail conditions modified sufficiently to allow him to rejoin Team Penske for the trip to Surfers Paradise, where he will start among the favourites for success.
According to the Indianapolis Star
newspaper, US magistrate Judge William Turnoff said he had no reason to believe that the double Indy 500 winner would abscond during the event, claiming that it would be 'the dumbest thing Mr Castroneves could do' to flee to his native Brazil and not show up for court, as opponents of the decision have suggested.
"You have much to lose by not complying with conditions of release," Turnoff said at the hearing that confirmed Castroneves' ability to race.
The Brazilian has been freed on $10m bail, having been charged, along with his sister and attorney, with both conspiracy and tax evasion for allegedly dodging US taxes on an estimated $5.5m by using offshore accounts. He has pleaded not guilty.
The judge's decision will end, at a stroke, the rumours about who may replace Castroneves behind the wheel of his familiar #3 Dallara-Honda. While Team Penske had made no suggestion as to whether it would even field a second car - the first was in no question as it is driven by Australian Ryan Briscoe - various sources had touted names as diverse as former Penske pilot Sam Hornish Jr, struggling NASCAR sophomore AJ Allmendinger and Penske ALMS pilot Romain Dumas, who tested the #3 car at Infineon Raceway earlier in the season as part of his sportscar contract.
The Nikon Indy 300 takes place on the streets of Surfers Paradise on the weekend of 26 October.