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Jean Alesi to contest Indy 500 with Fan Force United

Alesi is relishing the challenge of IndianapolisJean Alesi will turn his first laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow after Lotus confirmed that it is backing the ex-Formula 1 driver's late entry into the Indy 500 with the Fan Force United team.

The 47-year-old will run at tomorrow's Rookie Orientation test in preparation for his first-ever oval race at the 500 in three weeks.

He was originally expected to contest the race with Newman Haas before the team withdrew its entry, but says that he is looking forward to working with Fan Force, which is stepping up from Indy Lights.

"We've been talking about this race for a long time, and trying to find the right team to go with," Alesi said. "I'm very happy to be joining Fan Force United.

"Lotus believe it's the right place for me to be, and I trust the team completely and am sure we will do a super job. I did a seat-fitting on Monday and from now onwards I'll concentrate on preparing for the race ahead of the other drivers getting out there."

Alesi said that he has spent two days in the Dallara simulator in preparation for his Indy appearance and believes that the lateness of his deal will not prevent him from being able to get up to speed.

"Dallara's simulator is an incredibly sophisticated bit of kit on which I have learned so much about oval techniques and set-up," he said. " So I feel ready for the Indy 500, but also I am very happy to be doing the rookie test on May 10 ahead of the real practice.

"This will give me time to gain confidence and the feeling for the car and the track. The race is now just three weeks away, and we're going to be working flat out up to that date. I can't wait."

A Lotus statement explained that its focus on its full-time IndyCar teams had prevented it from finalising Alesi's drive sooner.

"Lotus had to concentrate its efforts on its existing teams first and foremost before identifying the right opportunity for Jean, in both sporting and financial terms," it said.

Alesi's car will carry the same black and gold livery used by most of the other Lotus- powered cars so far this season.

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Q & A with Jean Alesi