Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced on Monday that Juri Vips would be climbing behind the wheel of the #30 entry for the final two races of the IndyCar season.
The races will be the Estonian driver’s first in America, and will be the first time he has raced competitively in nearly a year. Although he has completed two test days with RLL during that time, the most recent being at Barber Motorsports park in March.
Vips advanced through the junior formulae in Europe, and drove for Hitech for two seasons in Formula 2, earning three race wins in that time.
He was also a part of the Red Bull Junior program, until he was quickly dropped following a highly-publicized use of a slur in an online gaming match.
The 23-year-old is looking to put that episode of his life behind him with the recent announcement, and is looking forward to trying his hand at IndyCar for the first time this upcoming weekend.
He will compete at Portland International Raceway this weekend and at Laguna Seca the following Sunday, and will also participate in an open test day held between those two events.
“I’m super happy to get the opportunity with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and very thankful to Bobby [Rahal], Mike [Lanigan] and everyone at the team,” said Vips. “I haven’t been driving all year so the anticipation for this opportunity has been immense but I’m really looking forward to starting again.
“We tested together at the end of 2022 in Sebring and it seemed like we just gelled. I got along with everyone and I really like the atmosphere at the team. Bobby’s also one to give second chances and I’m extremely grateful that he is giving me one and I really hope to bring a good result for him, Mike and the whole team.”
The #30 entry that Vips will be piloting was left vacant after RLL dropped Jack Harvey mid-season. Conor Daly filled in for the recent race at Gateway, and now Vips will get his shot.
The team is using these final races, and the open test a Laguna Seca before the event, to evaluate drivers for a potential 2024 race seat.
The fact that the team has chosen to run Vips for both of the final races lends weight to the possibility that he will be offered that vacancy, pending his performance in the next couple weekends.
RLL team owner Bobby Rahal was adamant that the young driver has learned from his mistakes, paid his dues, and is ready to rebuild his name via his on-track performance.
Vips will complete his first race weekend laps in IndyCar this Friday, with the opening practice session at Portland taking place at 3:00 PM Pacific Time.