Meira previously drove for Menard

Updated: March 26, 2004, 5:17 PM ET news services

Vitor Meira
INDIANAPOLIS -- Team Rahal hired Brazilian driver Vitor Meira on Friday to team with Buddy Rice and Roger Yasukawa in the Japan Indy 300, the third race on the IRL schedule.

Meira, a former open wheel champion in South America and veteran of the Formula 3000 series, drove the past two years in the IRL for Team Menard. His best finish was third at Texas Motor Speedway in 2002.

"I'm very excited to drive for Team Rahal," said Meira "This team has been one of the best in open-wheel racing for many years and I'm looking forward to working with the organization."

Rahal, which fielded teams in both the Indy Racing League and the former CART series, switched to IRL full-time last week. Its former CART driver, Michel Jourdain Jr., decided to remain in the Champ Car series.

"We are pleased to bring Vitor into our Team Rahal driver lineup," said Bobby Rahal, Team Rahal co-owner with partner David Letterman. "Vitor is a talented young driver who was impressive in his performances previously in the IndyCar Series.

"I believe he will work well with Buddy and Roger at Motegi as we look to collect our first victory in the league."

Meira's deal with Rahal is just for the April 17 race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Rahal said he would decide later on a driver for the Indianapolis 500, and for the rest of the season.

Information from SportsTicker and the Associated Press was used in this report.