Despite his considerable experience, Jean has never before taken on competitive oval racing. Following a 12 year stint in F1 from 1989 to 2001, Alesi moved onto DTM racing and then last year made his most recent competitive race appearance in the Le Mans Series. In January 2011 he joined Group Lotus as a brand ambassador and development consultant on the F1 customer race car, the T125. Although never straying far from the race track, the Indy 500 and oval racing represent completely new challenges for Jean.
Commenting on the announcement Jean Alesi said: “I’m thrilled that Lotus has given me the opportunity to compete in such a world famous race. It’s going to be a very special experience for me but I also know that I have a lot of hard work ahead. I’m very focused on the task I’m facing – I’m taking my training very seriously, I have some amazing support on this front from a ‘comeback’ expert and of course I will be testing extensively. I’m really excited about the race.”
Jean’s development role with Group Lotus will stand him in good stead as he prepares for his new challenge as he will be competing in a Lotus powered by the new Lotus IndyCar engine. Development of the 2.2l twin turbo V6 is going to schedule with the first engine fire up set for mid October and track testing planned December.
Group Lotus Director of Corporate Operations Gino Rosato said: “IndyCar racing represents a really important element of our overall motorsport program. The Indy 500 is the highlight of the race calendar, the atmosphere is always incredible and having Jean racing for us there will make it extra special.”