Written by Archie O’Reilly, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Estonian driver Juri Vips will drive the No.30 car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) for the final two rounds of the 2023 IndyCar season, at Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as confirmed by the team.
The seat was recently vacated by Jack Harvey, whose performances saw his car teetering on the supposed outside edge of the Leaders’ Circle standings, which secures teams crucial funding. Conor Daly replaced Harvey for the previous race, at the World Wide Technology Raceway.
Vips continues the trend of drivers moving over from Formula 2 to compete in IndyCar, following in the footsteps of successful arrivals Callum Ilott, Christian Lundgaard, and Marcus Armstrong in recent years. The former Red Bull junior competed in two full seasons of F2, winning three races, and finishing sixth and 11th in the standings for Hitech GP, in the 2021 and 2022 championships respectively.
"I'm super happy to get the opportunity with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and very thankful to Bobby, Mike and everyone at the team," Vips said. "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."
Vips has previously tested for RLL at Sebring, and more recently, Barber Motorsports Park, amid Harvey’s absence after a crash during the season-opening race at St Pete, so he serves as a logical choice, as the team assess their options ahead of 2024.
RLL has a history of testing drivers late in seasons, as they look ahead to the future. Lundgaard’s performance on debut, which included qualifying fourth at the Indianapolis Road Course in 2021 was enough to convince the team to run him full-time, in a third entry for 2022 and beyond - a decision vindicated by a maiden race win this year.
The team may look to an experienced option for the No.30 car in 2024 as they attempt to start firing on all cylinders, particularly through an upturn in oval form, following a turnaround on road courses, and to an extent, street courses.
Alternatively, at 23, Vips will be a younger option that the team are keen to see complete a race weekend, as they evaluate his suitability. Entering the team through a similar path, Lundgaard has shown there is big potential for Vips to be able to succeed.