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Doornbos for Newman Haas?

Having been a thorn in the side of Sebastien Bourdais during the final year of Champ Car, Robert Doornbos could be poised to join the Frenchman at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing for 2009.

Doornbos sat out the 2008 season after the merger of Champ Car and the IRL saw benefactor Paul Stoddart pull out of his partnership with erstwhile Minardi Team USA co-owner Keith Wiggins - who duly signed EJ Viso for the campaign under the HVM banner - but was initially primed to return to the fold for the coming season.

However, having been a target for NHLR when Bourdais landed his break in F1 last year, Doornbos remained high on the list of drivers the team considered for its IndyCar programme and, with Justin Wilson's position faltering due to a lack of sponsorship, the Dutchman is being touted as a potential team-mate to the already-confirmed Graham Rahal.

It is understood that Doornbos is counting on backing from Red Bull and Dutch finance company ING - currently a major partner of the Renault F1 team - but is being made to wait while the latter ponders whether increasing its motorsport sponsorship to encompass the USA is a wise move in the present economic climate.

Representatives acting for the former Jordan and Minardi F1 substitute once suggested to that a deal 'is as good as done and will be announced in the near future', but have since reported that the situation may not be as clear-cut.

"Everything is looking good," Manager Lodewijk Varossieau originally claimed, "The deal is 99 per cent done and Robert will soon announce his plans."

With the date for the expected deal having been and gone, however, Varossieau has been forced to revise his opinion.

"The contract is not yet signed, but, within three weeks, we will announce what Robert will do this season," he has since said.

Doornbos - who raced in the inaugural Superleague Formula campaign to keep his hand in in 2008 - is still believed to be the favourite to partner Rahal at NHLR this season, but the team has made no secret of the fact that it is also courting four-time CCWS champion Bourdais should the Frenchman not be retained by Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Should the backing be found to land Bourdais, however, it could provide NHLR with an interesting dilemma. While several teams have admitted to having to throttle back on numbers, the veteran outfit could be in a position to run three stop-notch entries, with Bourdais expected to be a frontrunner from the off should he be forced to return to the US circuit.

Wilson, meanwhile, looks almost certain to leave NHLR after just one season - which yielded a maiden IRL win on the streets of Detroit's Belle Isle - and the Briton is reported to have been investigating opportunities outside of the IRL in a bid to keep himself active this year.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
2007 Champ Car World Series. 8-10 June 2007.  Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland. Portland International Speedway. Portland, Oregon, USA. Sebastien Bourdais, race winner and Robert Doornbos.
Graham Rahal Detroit celebration
Graham Rahal Detroit IndyCar 2017
Graham Rahal Detroit
Sebastien Bourdais Indy 500 practice
Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais headshot
Sebastien Bourdais Indy 500 practice 2017
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Sebastian Bourdais (KVSH Racing) celebrates in Detroit   [image creid: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastian Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastien Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [pic credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal sits in his Honda machine on pit lane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais with experimental LED Tire Lights on course during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Graham Rahal drive their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe bring their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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January 22, 2009 10:43 AM

A shame for Wilson. It's annoying to see people employed because of their surname and Dad's in positions of power...but Graham proved he was pretty good last year. Bourdais we know is class, and Doornbos should be good too. Bourdais deserves F1 though.

Don - Unregistered

January 22, 2009 1:54 PM

Bourdais deserves to keep his ride at Toro Rosso. But, if they let Sato buy his seat, he hopefully will land a IRL drive. Seeing Bourdais and Doornbos on the same team would generate some interesting tension between team mates. Should be very exciting.

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