IRL: Meira to Rahal in Japan

Team Rahal managing director Scott Roembke said, during the team's Indianapolis 500 Mile Race press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Wednesday morning that the name of the team's third driver would be announced shortly. It only took ...

Team Rahal managing director Scott Roembke said, during the team's Indianapolis 500 Mile Race press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Wednesday morning that the name of the team's third driver would be announced shortly.

It only took another two days for owners Bobby Rahal and David Letterman to name Brazilian Vitor Meira to drive their #17 Team Rahal Panoz G Force/Honda in the Indy Racing League's second Japan Indy 300, taking place at Twin Ring Motegi on April 18th.

Meira, who celebrates his 27th birthday tomorrow joins Buddy Rice in the #15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda the Arizona native has driven in relief of injured veteran Kenny Brack since the start of the season. Roger Yasukawa signed to drive Rahal's #16 Sammy Panoz G Force/Honda in Japan and at Indianapolis in May.

Meira most recently worked with John Menard, driving 14 IndyCar Series races in the #2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet over the previous two seasons. In that capacity, Meira won pole position for the IRL's 2002 Texas finale and came third in that race, only his fourth IRL start.

This Boy from Brasilia is a European Formula 3000 veteran and earned the South American F3 championship. Meira has earned four Top-10 finishes in his IRL career.

"I'm very excited to drive for Team Rahal," Meira said. "This team has been one of the best in open-wheel racing for many years and I'm looking forward to working with the organization" in his first start on the 1.5- mile Twin Ring Motegi oval owned by Honda, which is located north of Tokyo.

"Driving with Honda power is a big plus for me, too. I'm eager to get to Motegi." This race marks Meira's first time behind the wheel of a Panoz G Force chassis and his first experience with Honda power.

"We are pleased to bring Vitor into our Team Rahal lineup," Bobby Rahal declared. "Vitor is a talented young driver who was impressive in his performances previously in the IndyCar Series," echoed co-owner David Letterman. "I believe he will work well with Buddy and Roger at Motegi as we look to collect our first victory in the League."

Team Rahal announced its intent to field a two-car team with a Panoz G Force chassis and Honda power for the balance of the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series campaign, during a teleconference on March 18th. The team had already signed Yasukawa to drive a third car for the Twin Ring Motegi and Indianapolis 500 rounds.

Rice continues in relief of Kenny Brack, the Swedish veteran injured severely during the 2003 IRL finale at Texas Motor Speedway. Brack spent the weekend of the Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway spotting for Rice atop the Turn 1 suites and appeared at the IMS Media Day press conference with Roembke, Rice and Yasukawa.

Team Rahal acknowledged it will "announce plans for the Indy 500 and other upcoming IRL events in the future."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira