Walker Racing looks set to appear in the Firestone Indy Lights series before too long, having been tabbed by an ambitious talent spotting programme to provide the basis for driver development.

Despite coming up short in its attempt to join the unified IndyCar Series this season - Derrick Walker's eponymous outfit appearing just once to help run Paul Tracy in Edmonton - the Indianapolis team has joined forces with NexGen MTD in an effort to help propel some of the hundreds of aspiring youngsters up the ladder towards the top flight of US open-wheel racing.

NexGen's Charlie Patterson has confirmed that the programme's ambition is to use a long-term 'business' relationship with Walker to create a driver development programme that competes in both the Indy Lights and IndyCar Series over the next five seasons, beginning with female talent Michele Bumgarner.

"Derrick Walker and Walker Racing are a perfect fit to our programme mission," he commented, "Derrick and his team bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise that is second to none in this sport. And we are especially pleased that Derrick has elected to help us advance the professional racing career of 19-year old driver Michele Bumgarner."

The Filipino/American driver has competed in Italian Masters, Asian F3 and the Formula Toyota Series in recent years, but will return to her second home in the United States to take up her place on the programme.

"I'm very excited," the four-time Asian Karting Open champion admitted, "Signing with Charlie Patterson and Peter Olach has been great. I've met so many people in such a small period of time, and they have been a huge help. I'm now looking forward to having a great relationship with Walker Racing and everyone involved. They have a great history and background. The professionalism that they have is the best. This is a great opportunity for me and my goal is to get as much out of it as I can and to get the next level, which is IndyCar. I think this is a great match and we can take each other to the top."

NexGen has begun discussions with a number of international corporations that are giving consideration to supporting its programme.