|Michel Jourdain Jr. in Long Beach in 2004 when he also drove for Rahal's CART team.|
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Michel Jourdain Jr., who brought the team Indy car wins in Montreal and Milwaukee Champ Car World Series races in 2003, will return to the team for the 2012 Indianapolis 500. Jourdain’s No. 30 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry will be sponsored by Office Depot Mexico with associate sponsorship from Roshfrans, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi.
“I am extremely happy about this new opportunity," said Michel Jourdain, 35. “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."
Office Depot Mexico operates in seven countries including Mexico, Central America and Columbia. By the end of April the company will operate 250 locations and has annual sales of approximately $1 billion USD.
|Michel Jourdain Jr. and AJ Allmendinger horse around at Long Beach in 2004|
“We are very excited about having Michel (Jourdain) represent us in the most important race in the world," said Arturo HernÃ¡ndez MartÃnez, Subdirector de Mercadotecnia, Office DepotÂ® de México.
Jourdain, who is from Mexico City, returns to open-wheel competition for the first time since 2004. He became the youngest driver to start a Champ Car race to date when he drove at Long Beach in 1996 at the age of 19 years, six months and 12 days old. He made 152 starts in CART and Champ Car from 1996-2004 plus three Indy Racing League starts, including the 1996 Indy 500 where he qualified eighth and finished 13th and the 1996 race in Las Vegas where he finished second in a 28-car field. He won races in Montreal and Milwaukee in 2003 with Team Rahal and moved to RuSPORT for 2004 when Team Rahal focused solely on the Indy Racing League that season. With support from Ford Motor Company, he moved to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 2005-2008 and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Since then, he competed in various rally and sports car series.
|Michel Jourdain drove for Rahal's team in CART/Champ Car|
“I am pleased to have Michel back with the team," said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “When we were last together we had a lot of success and I don’t see any reason why we can’t continue that. It is also good to represent Office Depot again and their many associate sponsors that are making this happen. We are really pleased for Michel and happy to be a part of this."
“I have only competed in the Indy 500 once in 1996, but you can always see that this race is the best," added Jourdain. “Bobby and I spoke in Las Vegas, but also I came to the new shop in Indy the first days of January. I saw in Bobby a big commitment to get back to the top in Indy car racing. With the hiring of Tom Anderson and the very strong engineering group, I feel this is the best chance for me to come back strong. Everybody in the team knows that it will take some time for me to readapt to this type of cars and racing, but with the showings Takuma (Sato) had in the beginning of the season and the team’s history at the Indy 500, I know we can have a strong month of May."
Jourdain will turn his first laps in the new Honda-powered DW12 on Thursday, May 10 during the Rookie Orientation Program. Although he will be classified as a veteran, the team will be allowed to participate in a “refresher" course. Opening Day for the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is Saturday, May 12.