Jean Alesi has confirmed that he will make his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2012. The ex-Formula 1 racer will be backed by Group Lotus, for which he now works as an ambassador.
Alesi has not yet revealed which team he will be driving for, but his entry will be powered by a Lotus engine. The company is joining Honda and Chevrolet as an IndyCar supplier as the series launches its new technical package for 2012.
"The rumor has been growing and I can now officially confirm it here in Singapore, I will definitely be on the grid of the Indy 500, on May 27 2012," said Alesi.
"I will simply have to go round the oval 200 times at an average speed of 230mph and finish in front of the 32 other competitors to enjoy this famous milk bottle handed to the winner. But it's a long way to the checkered flag: rookie test, pole day, the 200 laps... I am aware that this is a major challenge that entails a lot of personal and physical sacrifices to make qualifying and the race happen in the best of conditions."
After leaving F1 at the end of the 2001 season, Alesi spent five years in the DTM before contesting the Speedcar Series in 2008. The 47-year-old Frenchman's last racing appearance was in a GT program with the AF Corse Ferrari team last year.
"Be very sure that this is not a case of me going through a mid-life crisis," Alesi added. "Ever since I started racing, I have met every race with the same objective: to push my limits and win by giving the best of myself and squeezing the best out of the equipment I am given. It is with the same strength to win and push my boundaries that I will prepare for this 101st edition of the Indy 500.
"I fully intend to put my name on the Borg-Warner Trophy, as I have no intention to put away my gloves or retire."
He said he had already begun physical training and working in Dallara's simulator.
"Dallara, who allowed me to win the [French] F3 championship in 1987 with the F386 and then the F387 chassis, are backing me up in the challenge by allowing me to use their simulator," said Alesi. "I have already clocked quite a few hours in it to get to grips with the specifics of this series which is new to me as a driver."