Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL, revealed the group has retained the previous Pink Bull reserve driver as a part of a plan to ultimately broaden to a fourth entry.
“We exercised our possibility with Juri,” Rahal mentioned. “We see Juri as a long-term play as nicely.
“We would wish to run a fourth automotive. We’re not making as a lot progress on that as we want. That is definitely a hope. Perhaps it is solely a particular variety of races, possibly one, possibly it is none. We’re not fairly positive.
“There’s one factor we did know, is we wished to maintain Juri in our household. He did an excellent job for us in Portland and fab job in Laguna. It is a disgrace chaos caught him in the beginning. All in all, very impressed with Juri. We definitely wished to maintain him inside our organisation.”
The 23-year-old Estonian contested the final two rounds of the 2023 IndyCar season with RLL. He began and completed 18th in his debut at Portland Worldwide Raceway however made the largest impression at Laguna Seca.
It was there that he climbed to fourth total in a Thursday check forward of the weekend and backed it up by main opening follow the next day and qualifying a decent thirteenth.
Through the race, Vips was the sufferer of an opening-lap incident that required in depth repairs. He returned 24 laps down and completed twenty fourth.
“Juri is an effective younger man,” Rahal mentioned. “I’ve to say he did every part we requested him to do. I believe he confirmed that he definitely is able to working up entrance in an IndyCar race.
“As I say, he is a very good younger man. I’ve gotten to know Juri since he is been with us. That is why we wished to verify we saved him as a result of we do need to run a fourth automotive, if in any respect potential. He definitely confirmed he belongs.”
Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
Juri Vips, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Rahal additionally made it some extent to place Vips in entrance of the eyes of the IMSA paddock within the season finale at Highway Atlanta two weekends in the past.
“On high of that, if we might help him get one thing after we’re not utilizing him, after we’re not busy with him, why not?” Rahal mentioned. “I do know I launched him to some of the (LM)P2 guys in Highway Atlanta, simply doing what we will to assist him.
“Clearly, we need to preserve him as a result of he is a really, superb race automotive driver. He’ll nonetheless carry out work for us. Whenever you take a look at the brand new class with the hybrid, each Juri, Christian (Lundgaard) and Pietro have lots of time in simulators and what have you ever studying, understanding this new world.
“I believe that is going to essentially assist us rise up to hurry as a group that rather more shortly simply because we now have that type of earlier expertise.
“Between all of them, in fact, Graham [Rahal] additionally doing what he can, I believe we bought 4 chargers that may assist take this group ahead.”
Rahal is fast to acknowledge, although, that whereas there’s a need to broaden this system to 4 vehicles, it received’t come on the threat of taking away from the remainder of the operation.
“Actually, we’re not going to hurry proper right into a fourth automotive for the explanations you talked about,” Rahal mentioned. “You have to be ready to do this, to do it accurately, to do it in order that fourth automotive truly contributes going ahead.
“I believe we definitely noticed some enhancements final 12 months. Clearly, our poor efficiency in Indianapolis nonetheless is by far outweighing each different factor we did final 12 months. We have been dedicated to altering that for this coming right here. I believe we’re making progress on it already.
“The very first thing, we have three, and we have three robust drivers in these vehicles. The primary objective is to have them constantly run up entrance. We do this earlier than we do the rest.”