Newman-Haas Racing has announced that Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais will join Brazil's Bruno Junqueira in attempting to earn the team its fifth CART Champcar title in this season's Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

The reigning FIA F3000 champion has tested impressively with the team on more than one occasion since lifting his crown, and will replace the departing Christian Fittipaldi in the squad. Junqueira was signed at the close of the 2002 season to take over from the F1-bound champion, Cristiano da Matta.

"Paul [Newman] and I are very pleased to welcome Sebastien to our team," said team co-owner Carl Haas, "From the first test, he has shown that he can work well in our environment. We believe that Bruno and Sebastien have the ability to win many races and fight for another championship."

Bourdais earned the 2002 FIA Formula 3000 Championship on the strength of three wins and six pole positions as well as a total of seven podium appearances. He also competed in the FIA Sportscar Championship, where he won two races and earned one pole position en route to a second place finish in the standings, and the FIA GT Series, where he was part of the winning team in the 24 Hours of Spa.

A native of Le Mans, France, Bourdais began racing karts at the age of twelve and steadily progressed from the French Formula Renault series to French Formula Three where he won the championship in 1999. He then moved to the Formula 3000 series, taking the championship in his third season of competition.

"To move to a new series is exciting, but to do it with a team that won the championship the previous season is the best opportunity to succeed," said Bourdais, who will move to Miami before the season starts next month, "Since the first test, I have felt comfortable with the team and with Bruno, and it can only improve as we spend more time together. I am excited about being a driver for Newman-Haas Racing."

Team-mate Junqueira is another F3000 champion to have made the jump to CART, having won the FIA title in 2000, and Bourdais joins an illustrious list that also includes NHR predecessor Fittipaldi (1991) and former CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya (1998). Alex Zanardi, who was runner-up to Fittipaldi in the 1991 F3000 standings, went on to win the CART championship in 1997 and 1998, while Gil de Ferran spent two seasons in the F3000 series with a highest standing of third place in 1994 before he earned back-to-back CART championships in 2000 and 2001.