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FEBRUARY 14, 2001

Herbert nears Indy 500 deal

EXILED Formula One star Johnny Herbert is close to sealing a deal to race in this year's Indianapolis 500 race, he said on Wednesday.

The Briton left the Jaguar team at the end of last year with hopes to race in the American ChampCar series, but Herbert did not manage to agree a race deal after extensive talks.

Now Herbert has admitted that he is almost certain of a drive in the rival Indy Racing League series, of which the Indianapolis 500 is a part.

"It looks good. I've got a drive if we can get the budget," said Herbert. "It sounds promising and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't come off."

Herbert could not reveal which team he is talking to, but revealed the deal would be for several races to allow him to gain some essential oval experience before the big race in Indianapolis.

The three-time Grand Prix winner is also planning to have another crack at Le Mans, the race he won in 1991 with Mazda.

"I'll definitely be at Le Mans," said Herbert. "I've spoken to Bentley and we had more or less agreed everything, but there were a few other options that came up a week ago."

However, Herbert is keen to be part of the British challenge, and added: "It would be good, the heritage and the history. It would be good being one of the Bentley Boys!"