The NTT IndyCar Series driver merry-go-round continues to spin its way through the month of November with the news that four-time INDYCAR champion Sebastien Bourdais has been released from his contract at Dale Coyne Racing Vasser-Sullivan.
“I want to thank Dale, Jimmy and Sulli for giving me this opportunity to continue racing in the NTT IndyCar Series over the past few years,” Bourdais stated. “I look forward go pursuing new opportunities in racing in the years ahead.”
Bourdais and Coyne have teamed up a couple of times during his illustrious career, following the Le Mans, France native’s return from Formula One and sports car competition based in Europe. They started with a part-time run in 2011. From there, Bourdais worked with Dragon Racing’s ill-fated Lotus program that morphed into a Chevrolet campaign. He then went to Kevin Kalkhoven and 1996 CART champ Jimmy Vasser’s KV Racing Technology, which morphed into KVSH as James “Sulli” Sullivan joined the team.
Coyne and Bourdais re-teamed in 2017 and have been together ever since, securing back-to-back wins at Bourdais’ American home of St. Petersburg, Fla., site of INDYCAR’s season starter, along with a single pole and five podium results. They’ve amassed season-long results of 21st in 2017; with Vasser and Sullivan they took seventh for 2018 and eleventh this past year, which ended with a gutsy run to seventh at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The 2018 result is Dale Coyne Racing’s second-best through its long, 35-year history, surpassed only by the late Justin Wilson’s 2013 points finish of sixth.
There aren’t many spots available for Bourdais (40) at this time, as most teams have locked in their drivers for the upcoming 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season that begins at St. Petersburg in March. At this time, Bourdais, Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe and Spencer Pigot are among those looking for full-time work in the open-wheel series. There are rides available at A.J. Foyt Racing and at Carlin, but both Chevrolet-affiliated teams are looking for fully-funded drivers.
Dale Coyne, after thanking Bourdais for his commitment during two tours of action with the team said, “It is not a decision we take lightly, but due to the ever-changing landscape of Indy car racing, we have no choice but to make a change for 2020. We wish Sebastien all the best with his future racing endeavors.”
Vasser and Sullivan added, “We both want to thank Sebastien for the outstanding job he did driving for our teams KVSH Racing and Dale Coyne Racing Vasser-Sullivan. Looking back, Seb has driven 84 races for us. We wish him the best of luck in the next phase of his career where we hope there will be an opportunity for us to race together again.”
At this time, it’s unknown whether Bourdais’ engineer Craig Hampson, who joined the team specifically to work with the driver, is staying onboard for the 2020 season.