Open-wheel veteran Michel Jourdain Jr will reprise last year’s Indianapolis 500 outing with another appearance at this next month’s famous oval race.
The Mexican has signed on to drive for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan squad, rejoining the team in a third Honda-powered DW12 challenger.
Jourdain Jr’s association with RLL goes back over ten years, when he won two Champ Car races for the team back in 2003.
Jourdain holds the record as the youngest driver to start a Champ Car race to-date, making his debut in 1996 as a 19-year-old. In all, he made 152 starts in CART and Champ Car between 1996-2004, with his two wins at Montreal and Monterrey in 2003 as his best finishes.
After Champ Cars, Jourdain Jr had a handful of NASCAR outings before making brief forays into the A1 Grand Prix and FIA World Touring Car Championships. More recently, he has competed in the US endurance racing scene.
While he only managed a 19th-placed finish at last year’s Indy 500, team owner Bobby Rahal believes that the 36-year-old will be better equipped to tackle the event this time around.
“Last year, for his first race back after a number of years out of an IndyCar, he did a very good job,” Rahal said.
“We made a bad pit call last year and let him down, frankly, which put him a lap down.
“He quickly got with the programme at Indy, and was running competitively in the race, and I think that one year later most of the rust is off and he will be much more prepared because he knows what to expect.”
Jourdain will team up with regular drivers Graham Rahal and James Jakes in a three-car operation.
“From a car standpoint, we should be even more competitive than we were last year, so I am really pleased to have Michel back [alongside Graham and James],” Rahal added.
“It has been a year since I have been in the car, but I will take the same strategy as last year and build up speed little by little,” Jourdain added.
“I’m sure the car will be really good, and with it being a three-car team we should be able to progress much faster.
“I’m happy to be working with Bobby and the guys again, as well as with Bruno [Couprie] my engineer, who I worked with last year.”
Jourdain will pilot the team’s #17 entry with primary sponsorship from Office Depot Mexico, as well as secondary sponsorship from Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi.