Pippa Mann is to return to IZOD IndyCar Series competition for the first time since Las Vegas in 2011, after Dale Coyne Racing announced that it was to expand to a three-car line-up for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.

"We have known and followed Pippa from her first interest in coming over to America and the IndyCar series," said Dale Coyne on Tuesday, after revealing that Mann was the official 31th entry into this year's race. "Her hard work and dedication are commendable and have shown results.

"She has qualified for Indy, qualified on pole at Indianapolis for the Indy Lights race [2010], won an Indy Lights race at Kentucky and has been a great asset for the sport," he added.

"I'm delighted to be able to share this news," said Mann, who competed in 2011 Indy 500 with Conquest Racing and who was due to participate in three oval races later in the season with Rahal Latterman Lanigan. One of those was the ill-fated Vegas season finale, which was abandoned after a massive accident claimed the life of Dan Wheldon.

Mann herself was hospitalised for a burns injuries sustained in the crash, and required offseason surgery on her hand. She has not returned to IndyCar competition since then, and has instead been working as a co-commentator on IMS Radio Network's broadcasts of Firestone Indy Lights races, but she's never made any secret of her desire to be back in a race seat again as soon as possible.

"I actually first met Dale several years ago, before I came to the US, at what turned out to be the final Champ Car test at Sebring right before the open-wheel merger," the 29-year-old from London said. "We've sort of had an on-going conversation ever since then, and I actually got very close to getting in one of Dale's cars on Bump Day last year," she revealed.

"A year later, we've now put this program together, and I cannot wait to be back on track with Honda and running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May," she added.

The deal means that Mann will be teamed with Dale Coyne's regular drivers Justin Wilson, a fellow Briton, and also with Brazil's Ana Beatriz. That makes this the first time that two female drivers have ever been team mates together in the same squad for the Indy 500.

A big advocate of social media, Mann took to Twitter after the announcement to field a deluge of messages from well-wishers sending their congratulations at the news.

"Thank you SO much to everyone for all the support you're tweeting me - will reply to as many as I can!!!," she posted - eventually sending so many messages in response that the social network's automated systems temporarily locked her out on a 'cooling off' period.

"Sorry I went quiet for a while got 'put' in #TwitterJail for sending too many replies!" she explained after suddenly going quiet. "Needless to say I read every reply - your support is amazing!!! And thank you for making me trend here in Indy this afternoon."

Further details about the entry, including the sponsors finding the Indy 500 program, will be announced shortly. Opening day for his year's event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on Saturday, May 11.