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Doornbos to IndyCar for 2009UPDATE #7 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see Hot News page.
02/19/09 Although the publication about Bobby D's plans for 2009 is delayed, we can announce that Robert Doornbos will test an IndyCar next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on an oval in Homestead (USA) for the first time.
02/18/09 We are downgrading this rumor to 'speculation' based on inside information AR1.com has obtained out of Holland today. The deal with Doornbos was to be announced today or yesterday but nothing happened. The deal with ING might have been signed last week but apparently it fell through because a major sponsor for Graham Rahal, or Milka Duno (we suspect the latter) dropped out at the very last minute. For Doornbos it meant that he had to come up with $5 million instead of $1.5 or $2 million to NHL Racing we are told. Furthermore, one of his former personal backers, Muermans, has big problems in Belgium and Holland because he is being sued over a retirement fund scandal from the Eindhoven based Philips company. We think millions are involved. Harry Muermans will soon go to court in Maastricht, Holland in, ironically, the building (The Palace of Justice) he built himself. He sold one of his houses to Michael Schumacher recently, but that was sealed off last week by the Belgian police. Let's see how this all plays out.......if he still has the money from ING perhaps he can run a limited IndyCar schedule. Mark C.
02/14/09 The latest rumors out of Holland appear to confirm that ING is indeed backing Doornbos at NHLR and now they are saying an announcement is coming Wednesday.
02/12/09 In this mornings De Telegraaf newspaper there was another article about Doornbos (see translation below). Apparently the contract has been signed and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will make an official announcement on Tuesday, next week (February 17). It all still depends on team sponsorship negotiations with Milka Duno's sponsor CITGO, who could be NHL's 3-car team sponsor ... !
Robert Doornbos stapte gisteren als een dolgelukkig man in het vliegtuig dat hem naar Europa terugbracht in de zekerheid dat hij straks weer naar de Verenigde Staten kan terugkeren als indycarcoureur bij het topteam Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Hij tekende er een éénjarig contract met opties op 2010 en 2011. Zijn teamgenoten zijn de Amerikaan Graham Rahal, de zoon van oud-indycarrijder Bobby Rahal, en de Venezolaanse rijdster Milka Duno. „Ik ben heel blij en ontzettend trots. Toen ik bij het team werd geïntroduceerd, was mijn openingszin: ’If you cannot beat them, join them’. Dat vond iedereen wel mooi. Ze waren erg enthousiast”, vertelde de 27-jarige coureur. Voorafgaand aan de twee officiële testdagen van de Indy Racing League legt ’Bobby D’, zoals hij in Amerika bekendstaat, op 23 maart zijn rookie-test af op de Homestead Miami Speedway. In april is dan de eerste race in St. Petersburg (Florida). In Indianapolis, waar de kantoren van de IRL zijn gevestigd, bekeek hij de Motorspeedway waar op 24 mei de beroemde Indy 500 mijlsrace plaatsheeft. „Dat enorme stadion was nu nog leeg en kaal, maar je kon gewoon de magie ervan voelen. Mijn eerste Grand Prix in de Formule 1 was iets speciaals, maar ik denk dat de Indy 500 het meest bijzondere in mijn carrière wordt. Als je ziet hoeveel beroemde namen hier hebben gereden en gewonnen”, sprak Doornbos bewonderend. Na Arie Luyendijk senior, die de Indy 500 tweemaal won, en diens zoon Arie junior wordt hij de derde Nederlander die aan het ’greatest spectacle in motorracing’ gaat meedoen. „Ik denk dat ik Arie maar als spotter bij de Indy 500 vraag”, lachte Doornbos.
NHL Racing maakte officieel nog niet het 2009-team bekend, omdat NHL nog niet rond is met een teamsponsor. De verwachting is dat de sponsor van Duno (CITGO, een multinational in petroleumproducten) ook zijn naam aan het team gaan verbinden.
Rough Translation: Doornbos is happy ! Robert Doornbos was a happy man yesterday on the plane ride back to Europe knowing that he will return to the United States as Indycar driver with Newman / Haas / Lanigan Racing. He signed a one-year contract with options in 2010 and 2011. His teammates are the American Graham Rahal, the son of former Indycar driver Bobby Rahal, and Venezuelan Milka Duno.
Having raced against NHLR, Doornbos is happy to not have to beat them. "I am very happy and very proud. If you cannot beat them, join them," said the 27-year-old driver. NHL Racing has not made official yet their 2009-team lineup. The expectation is that the sponsor of Duno (CITGO, a multinational petroleum products) will have a major presence in the team.
02/11/09 In today's De Telegraaf newspaper it says Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will today announce / confirm Robert Doornbos as one of their (two or three) drivers for 2009. Robert Doornbos is quoted as saying: "It's not up to me to make the announcement, the team wants to do this themselves.'
DOORNBOS ROND MET TOPTEAM IN INDY RACING LEAGUE
’Bobby D’ terug in de States
Robert Doornbos verwacht dat het Amerikaanse indycarteam Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing hem vandaag als nieuwe coureur zal aankondigen. Dat meldde hij gisteren vanuit Indianapolis waar de laatste hand werd gelegd aan het contract met de 27-jarige Rotterdammer van geboorte. Officieel mag hij zich nog geen teamgenoot van Graham Rahal noemen die ook al vorig jaar voor NHL uitkwam. De renstal van wijlen acteur Paul Newman en de huidige eigenaren Carl Haas en Michael Lanigan wil het nieuws over de rijders in een eigen verklaring naar buiten brengen. Het is zelfs mogelijk dat er nog een derde coureur bekend wordt gemaakt. Als de geruchten kloppen dan is de derde Dallara met 3.5 Honda V8-motor voor Milka Duno. Zij is een Venezolaanse schone die al enige jaren in de indycarserie actief is en met Citgo een kapitaalkrachtige sponsor (en echtgenoot) heeft. Doornbos zal op 5 april op het stratencircuit van St. Petersburg (Florida) zijn debuut maken in de Indy Racing League die zich ook op veel ovale banen afspeelt. De ex-Formule 1-coureur maakt daarmee zijn rentree in het Amerikaanse openwheelracing. In 2007 nam hij aan de Champ Car World Series deel die echter voornamelijk op straten- en wegcircuits werd gehouden. Als ’Bobby D’ maakte de Nederlander naam. Omdat de champcarserie failliet ging en werd overgenomen door de rivaliserende Indy Racing League van Tony George, viste Doornbos afgelopen jaar achter het net. Hij zocht zijn heil in de ’voetbalserie’ Superleague Formula en werd nadien opgenomen in het A1GP-team van Jan Lammers. Tot nu toe kwam hij voor Team Nederland in China en Nieuw-Zeeland in actie.
• Robert Doornbos zal op 5 april op het stratencircuit van St. Petersburg (Florida) zijn debuut maken in de Indy Racing League.
FOTO: MATTHÉ IJZERMAN
Intussen werd door Doornbos en zijn manager Lodewijk Varossieau onderhandeld met indycarteams, waarbij de voorkeur uitging naar NHL Racing, dat een rijke geschiedenis kent. Huidig Formule 1-rijder Sébastien Bourdais werd vanaf 2004 viermaal kampioen met het team dat in 1983 werd opgericht. Wereldkampioen Nigel Mansell behaalde er de indycartitel in 1993. Hoewel de deal met NHL al een tijdje in de pijplijn zat, wenst Varossieau niet eerder te juichen voordat het team het verlossende woord zal spreken. „In de autosport weet je het maar nooit, maar het is simpel. We zijn heel ver met de onderhandelingen. Eigenlijk zijn we het over alle voorwaarden eens en komt het alleen nog op details aan”, vertelde de manager al vorige week. Dat Doornbos volgens sommige publicaties circa 3 miljoen euro moet inbrengen, wijst Varossieau met grote stelligheid af. „Schromelijk overdreven.” Wel gaf hij aan dat de coureur een groot deel van zijn salaris zal inleveren en dat zijn beloning uit sponsoring zal bestaan. De coureur onderhoudt banden met ING Direct en Red Bull.
02/10/09 Robert Doornbos is currently en route to the U.S. for a medical and physical test. Soon we expect to hear his confirmation at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
02/03/09UPDATE #15 Robert Doornbos will join the IndyCar Series after reaching an agreement with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, according to a Dutch newspaper report. Doornbos is said to bring 3 million euros ($3.85M) in the way of sponsorship.
01/26/09 Robert Doornbos' hoped for move to IndyCar in 2009 could be in jeopardy. ING, who is rumored to be his primary backer, will cut operating expenses by EUR 1 billion in 2009. The structural expense reduction will lead to annual savings of approximately EUR 1.1 billion from 2010 onwards. Of the cutback, 35% will come from a reduction of the workforce by approximately 7,000 full-time positions in 2009. The remainder of the expense reduction comes from decreasing costs for our head office, marketing, the Formula 1 program, consultancy, third-party staff and the renegotiating of certain contracts with IT-vendors. Of the total expense reduction, EUR 650 million will be realized in Banking and EUR 350 million in Insurance.
01/15/09 According to the same website that published the rumor about Doornbos going to NHLR with the announcement expected to go off Wednesday (yesterday), negotiations between Doornbos and NHLR seem to be slowing down.
Once again, they got the driver's manager Louis Varossieau to talk. "The contract is also not yet signed, but within three weeks, we will announce what Robert will do this season."
This can mean a couple of things. For one, perhaps Doornbos' relationship with big banker ING may not be yielding as much sponsorship money for him due to the world financial crisis.
But what about the "Bourdais factor"?
SPEED Channel's Robin Miller has reported that Formula One driver and four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais has been talking to NHLR about coming back to the team that helped him dominate the final stages of Champ Car's history. At the same time, he is battling with Takuma Sato for the second seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso.
01/12/09 Reports out of Belgium say that Robert Doornbos is close to signing on Wednesday a deal to drive the 2nd NHLR IndyCar alongside Graham Rahal. Recall our earlier reports that one of his backers, Harry Muermans, has wanted him at NHLR for years. Miller's article insinuates that the team might also run a 3rd car for Bourdais but we can tell you that the team has no interest in running three cars and Bourdais and Doornbos do not like each other.
12/25/08 "I've been talking to HVM, but Newman/Haas/Lanigan are the team I've been in contact with the most," said Doornbos. "I want to be in the best team possible and I hope to have a deal signed this week, but I don't know who that will be with," he said. "I hope I can bring my ING relationship to the IRL in 2009."
12/12/08 In this article on his own website Doornbos says he is close to closing the deal for an IRL ride in 2009 with Red Bull and ING backing.
You still receive support from Red Bull?
The support is still there. I have direct contact with the people of Austria and they are very satisfied with what I do for them. For the A1GP races in China, I had a very nice helmet sprayed in the Red Bull colors, but unfortunately that was two sizes too small when they where delivered. Red Bull will never be a full sponsor for me in the IRL, mainly because they are active in NASCAR, but I will still have a Red Bull helmet when driving. There is also enormous support from Red Bull Netherlands, which I'm very happy about.
What support do you receive from ING?
Nearly one hundred percent support from them. Both parties are very excited about each other and the relationship we have made. I hope I can bring ING to the IRL in 2009.
When will F1 be back in the picture for you?
Testing in Formula 1 next year is possible, but I still prefer to go racing in America. To be honest maybe if I have a good year in the IRL then I could get another chance in Formula 1, but that is not for sure. Formula 1 has not been my priority... The most important thing is that I will be successful at the highest feasible level and for now Indy Car is my target.
12/09/08 We had rumored below that Trust would be the sponsor for Doornbos in IndyCar. However, per this Hot News article, Trust has now inked a deal to be an associate sponsor of the Red Bull F1 team. No word on if that means Trust will not sponsor Doornbos, but now that the IRL made the stupid decision to switch to Versus from ESPN, and the corresponding loss of the huge international TV coverage that ESPN delivered, Trust may be the next in a long line of sponsors or potential sponsors that will flee IndyCar. The money the IRL saved/made going with Versus will be wiped out ten-fold in lost sponsor revenue.
11/29/08 E.J. Viso sent me an e-mail this morning from Europe to say he has his program secured with HVM Racing for 2009. He also said he expects to have Robert Doornbos as his teammate, giving team owner Keith Wiggins a two-car team. IndyStar [Editor's Note: We already had these two teamed together on our 2009 IRL Silly Season page (see link above), but we also have Doornbos as a possibility at NHLR.]
11/27/08 According to this Dutch article, Robert Doornbos will test for an IRL team on December 8th in Homestead, Florida. While the article does not state which team he will test for, it does say the team won some IRL races last year, so as we predicted, he will likely be testing for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (2 wins in 2008) who recently released Justin Wilson from his contract because they had no sponsor for his team. Doornbos is said to be bringing a lot of his own backing, which would pretty much seal the deal for him moving to the team in 2009. We already know he is fast enough.
11/03/08 Hearing it could be NHLR instead of KV Racing for Doornbos. We know that Harry Muermans, a key backer for Doornbos, is keen on him racing for NHLR.
11/03/08 Some very interesting rumors circulating around in The Netherlands these days. We hear that Robert Doornbos might not be joining HVM, but another 07-Champ Car team (assumed to be KV Racing) now in the IRL. This team was a 2-car team in 08 and might be a 3-car team in 09. Sponsorship for Doornbos would not be Trust (as mentioned by AR1 on this rumors page) but an international operating Dutch bank who we would assume might be ING.
09/19/08 "I'm working really hard to make something happen in the IRL," Robert Doornbos told this week's Autosport. "There seems to be quite good interest from the teams.
"I'm still in touch with HVM because we had a good year last year, but also some other teams.
"It would be really good to do some oval tests. I've no experience of them but it looks like fun."
09/08/08 We hear Trust will be the primary sponsor for Doornbos. They have been added to our 2009 IndyCar Silly Season page above.
09/07/08 Confirming what AR1.com rumored below a week or more ago, the Indy Star newspaper reports that HVM boss Keith Wiggins said he is close to locking down a two-car IndyCar operation in 2009 with EJ Viso and Robert Doornbos targeted as the drivers. Our 2009 IndyCar Silly Season page (see link above) already listed HVM's two drivers for next year as Viso and Doornbos. We assume Doornbos still has backing from Harry Muermans.
09/03/08 Robin Miller writes for SpeedTV.com, Robert Doornbos, who won twice in Champ Car as a rookie in 2007, is telling friends he’s got an IndyCar ride for ’09, so we can only assume it’s with Keith Wiggins, his old boss who is expanding to two cars next year.
In related news (not from SPEEDTV) Lodewijk Varossieau, former manager of Christijan Albers, has signed an agreement to take care of Robert Doornbos' management, his company GR8 Industries has announced. The partnership comes as a bit of a surprise as a few years ago Albers and Doornbos were major rivals and made no secret of their opinions of each other.
"We have achieved a lot with Christijan in motor sport and we learned a lot in those years," Varossieau said. "Unfortunately we both had to go our own way about a year ago but our ambitions haven't changed. We're still out there to link the best drivers to great brands at the highest level in motor sport and football. Business-wise Robert is an interesting person to work with and it will be a big challenge to get the best deals for him."
The former Red Bull driver joined the Champ Car series in the 2007 season but missed out on a seat in 2008 as Champ Car merged with IRL. According to Varossieau all eyes are still on the US though. "We try to support Robert during his negotiations with the various teams in the US and a number of big companies that could be interesting to support his career in the US."
09/01/08 Former Team Minardi USA driver Robert Doornbos told the Dutch newspaper 'De Telegraaf,' “I’ve already got everything lined up for 2009, I will be driving for a good IndyCar Series team. I can’t tell which team it is, but it will be a team where I will have good chances.”
Last year he drove for the Minardi/HVM team so he may be returning to that team, or quite possibly 2 or 3 other teams.
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