Team owner Dale Coyne says Sebastien Bourdais’ surgery last night at Methodist Hospital was successful, but that he will miss the remainder of the season, and he's not yet chosen either a short- or long-term replacement.
Coyne told Motorsport.com that the surgery was so successful that the doctors had not only been able to operate on Bourdais’ multiple fractures to his pelvis but had also operated on his broken hip.
A statement released by IndyCar medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows read: "Surgery went well. I've met with Sebastien this morning and he was doing even better than I expected."
“That was great news,” said Coyne, “because they had expected it to involve two separate operations. He’s a strong guy, very fit. That helps. IndyCar flew Claire [Bourdais’ wife] in last night, so that was great.
“Sebastien came out of surgery at 10.40, and about 20 minutes later his surgeon came down and told us it had gone really well.”
Coyne praised Dallara for the strength of the tub, and how well the SAFER barrier worked.
“It’s not so long ago that a hit like that would have been fatal,” he said. “It was a 118G hit, and yet the car did its job. There was no intrusion from the components, and the panel that was added to the car when Justin [Wilson] had his hit in Fontana [in 2013] and broke his pelvis did what it was supposed to do and gave the seat more of chance to absorb a lot of energy.”
Coyne confirmed that he had to find a replacement for four-time Champ Car champion Bourdais who signed with DCR after three seasons at KV Racing.
“We’re told he’s going to be six to eight weeks on crutches and then there’s rehab,” he said. “So yeah, that’s it for the season.
“It’s sad for Sebastien that it came when we were looking really good. I mean, I thought he was the class of the field here all week. We were strong in traffic in practice, and we were superquick without a tow, as well.
“Those 231mph laps were amazing,” said Coyne of Bourdais’ opening two laps on his Saturday qualifying run. “He was at 239mph on the straights, and the lap time was over 1mph more than anyone else had done. We were looking really good for taking pole today.
“But when we spoke before surgery, he remembered everything. He said the car had wiggled a bit in Turn 1 so he knew he was on the limit and then he just drove it in a bit too hard in 2.”
Although he admitted that he had a shortlist of potential replacement drivers, Coyne said that wasn’t his priority right now.”
“We’ve gotta build up the spare car,” he commented. “I sent the guys home last night. They were devastated, as you’d guess.
“It’s never gonna be ready today; we’ll be lucky if it’s ready for tomorrow.”
Coyne would not be drawn on which drivers were on his shortlist, but potential candidates would included Stefan Wilson, who this year gave up his seat at another Honda-powered team, Andretti Autosport, to make way for Fernando Alonso. Others likely to be able to step in at the last moment and perform competently include Tristan Vautier who has started two Indianapolis 500s, one for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and one for Dale Coyne Racing.
James Davison was also in talks with Coyne for this year’s race.
A longer shot might be Bruno Junqueira, one of Coyne’s favorite drivers, who has twice (2009 and 2011) given up his seat for a driver who failed to qualify. However, the Brazilian veteran, who took pole here in 2002, has never driven a Dallara IR12 on an oval, so would be on a steep learning curve.