Team owner Dale Coyne says his injured ace Sebastien Bourdais is already talking about returning to IndyCar, but that he's looking for substitutes in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing-Honda.
Bourdais survived a 227mph / 118G oblique-angled collision with the SAFER barrier at Turn 2 of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. The multiple fractures in his pelvis and his fractured hip were operated on that night, and on Monday he was standing again with the aid of crutches.
Coyne told Motorsport.com: “I went to see him this morning. He’s up and moving about, but he’s in more pain than he was before because the good stuff is wearing off now!
“One of his back ribs – right-side, third from the top – really hurts.”
Coyne confirmed that Bourdais had suffered no mental ill effects despite remaining awake and alert throughout the shunt, and that the four-time Champ Car champion was eager to return to racing.
Said Coyne: “First day after the crash he was saying he wanted to be back for Sonoma [the season finale]. I said, ‘No, skip Sonoma, then you’ve got an extra four months to heal, and come back in January and we’ll do it right.’
“Then today he was saying he was figuring if there was any way possible to do Le Mans for Chip [Ganassi, who runs the Ford GT team]. That’s next month! Claire [his wife] said no to that one…
“But yeah, he’s anxious to get back and Claire’s not putting any pressure on him to quit racing. And as I said to them yesterday, that accident was as big an accident as you can have at this place, and you’re sitting here and talking and joking and you’re already starting to stand.
“The true measure of a man is not on a good day, it’s on a bad day, and bad days make you want to come back and be that much more successful. People walk away hating this place after something like that, but they can’t wait to get back and try and do it right.”
Coyne said he was also upset at the loss of potential for the team, whose finances he also admitted had “taken a huge hit” in recent weeks. Following a win in St. Petersburg, second in Long Beach and eighth at Barber Motorsports Park, Bourdais was leading the championship, but was then taken out in a first-lap pile-up at Phoenix, retired on the second lap at GP of Indianapolis when the engine failed and then suffered the Indy qualifying shunt.
Asked about morale within the team, Coyne said: “Everyone’s sad because we all know how good this year could have been. It’s all ‘ifs’, but I think he’d have been eighth or ninth in Phoenix without that accident, third in the Grand Prix (of Indianapolis) without the engine failure, and a front row or even a good shot at the pole yesterday.
“That would have put us in a good spot for maybe winning the 500. So this is a big setback. We had our first realistic shot at the win.
“But you put it in the perspective of how things would have ended as recently as 20 years ago; a crash like that and we’d have been burying him. The SAFER barrier did a good job, the tub did a good job. So we just have to be grateful.”
James Davison is standing in for Bourdais in the Indy 500, but Coyne remains uncertain which driver would be the best choice to fill in for the remainder of the season.
“Do we take a rookie, or do we take an experienced guy?” he said. “Problem is there are no experienced guys out there. Bruno [Junqueira] has been away too long, maybe even [Ryan] Briscoe has been away too long.
“I mean, find me another Bourdais, and I’d do the deal. But there isn’t another one out there.”
Motorsport.com has learned from a separate source within DCR that Matt Brabham is one of the favorites on the list and comes with Bourdais’ endorsement, having partnered him in the American’s only two IndyCar starts, with KV Racing in 2016.
Another favorite is RC Enerson, who deeply impressed the team with his speed in his first three IndyCar races last year – Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and Sonoma.
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