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Rahal Letterman Racing is hoping to announce Oriol Servia as its driver for the Indy 500 within the next 24 hours. Team co-owner Bobby Rahal told RACER this afternoon that he could not yet confirm or deny an entry at this juncture, but that he is waiting to finalize a sponsorship deal.
“I can’t say whether we’ll be able to announce it today – the day’s not yet over – or tomorrow, but I want to run Oriol,” Rahal said. “It’s just a one-off Indy deal, but so far we’ve only missed a day and a half of running so I don’t think we’re too far behind. I have a lot of faith in Oriol and in our engineers, and I think there’s a possibility that we could run even better this year than in 2008.”
Last year, Rahal Letterman Racing’s Dallara-Honda, driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay, finished a fighting sixth, but the loss of Ethanol sponsorship at season’s end saw RLR switch to running BMW M3s in the GT2 category of the American Le Mans Series. However, right from season’s start, Rahal has stated his intention to keep his options open, and stated a firm belief that his team is capable of a competitive showing at Indy, even if it’s a one-entry in the 2009 IndyCar Series season.
The No. 17 car is in the garage at Indy ready for the go-ahead, and is painted up in a blue and white color scheme based on Dan Gurney’s Eagles from the late 1960s. Explained Rahal: “That’s just a bit of fun, because the Brickyard is celebrating its centenary. I wanted evocative colors from a classic era and I’m a big Dan Gurney fan. I’m pleased I got a message of approval through from Dan and [wife] Evi this morning. And if I’d have been running a second car, I’d have gone for ‘STP Red,’ like Jimmy Clark ran here in 1966!”
There will be practice sessions tomorrow morning, before Pole Day qualifying starts at 12 p.m. E.T., which could give Servia a chance to get back on track for the first time since losing his KV Racing ride at the end of the 2008 season.