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Alesi to race in Indy 500 aged 47

France's Ferrari F430 driver Jean Alesi is seen before the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race in Le Mans
France's Ferrari F430 driver Jean Alesi is seen before the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race in Le Mans

By Ossian Shine

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A decade after quitting Formula One, Jean Alesi will make his Indianapolis 500 debut in next year's race, backed by Group Lotus.

The 47-year-old Frenchman did not announce which team he would be representing in the famous race.

"I'm thrilled that Lotus has given me the opportunity to compete in such a world-famous race," Alesi said on Friday at Singapore's F1 grand prix.

"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.

"And of course I will be testing extensively... I'm really excited about the race."

After leaving F1 at the end of the 2001 season, Alesi spent five years in the German Touring Car championship before racing in the Speedcar Series in 2008.

He made his most recent competitive race appearance last year in the Le Mans Series.

Alesi will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of a number of Formula One greats who have also won the Indy 500 including Emerson Fittipaldi, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Mario Andretti.

The 96th running of the Indy 500 is scheduled for May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Alesi has been serving as a test driver and ambassador for Lotus, which is joining IndyCar as an engine supplier next year.

(Editing by Clare Fallon; To comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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