Michel Jourdain Jr. will make his return to the Indianapolis 500 after one of the longest gaps in-between starts in history. The 35-year-old Mexican was confirmed Tuesday as the driver of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's No. 30 DW12-Honda sponsored by Office Depot Mexico, with associate sponsorship from Roshfrans, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi.
Jourdain won twice and finished third in the 2003 CART IndyCar series, the second of his two seasons with the team. He last competed at Indianapolis as a 19-year-old in 1996, also the last year turbochargers were on the grid. He qualified eighth and finished 13th driving for Andy Evans' Team Scandia.
“I am extremely happy about this new opportunity,” Jourdain said. “My best years professionally came with Bobby Rahal. I have been working out harder than ever to make sure I am as fit as possible. I know it is a huge challenge, to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after so long and with this type of car, but I hope that I will feel at home in a few days. For me, this is not only a professional project, it is also personal, and having Office Depot Mexico, their suppliers and Roshfrans supporting me like they did 10 years ago means a lot to me. This shows that we did a good job for them.”
Jourdain last competed in open-wheel in 2004, picked up as an eleventh hour addition by RuSPORT as Rahal's team focused solely on the IndyCar Series that year. Incidentally, Buddy Rice went on to win that year's Indianapolis 500 from pole.
The status of Luca Filippi, the Italian rookie from GP2 who appeared set to make his debut with the team from Indianapolis onward, remains uncertain, although the Italian said yesterday he still expects to race with RLL at some point this year. The team's original second entry was given No. 45.