TUSC: Ryan Dalziel feeling “robbed” after Sebring runner-up

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Going into the final hour of yesterday’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, Extreme Speed Motorsports and its No. 1 HPD ARX-03b, driven at the time by Ryan Dalziel, was ahead of the pack.

But with 51 minutes remaining, a full-course yellow came out for a car stopped on the track – just after the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost Daytona Prototype of Marino Franchitti had pitted under green.

While Dalziel and the rest of the leaders pitted under yellow for fuel, the Ganassi No. 01 stayed out to take the lead. Dalziel wound up second for the restart with 21 minutes left, and Franchitti promptly pulled away from him en route to the eventual win.

That caused the Scotsman to tweet out his frustration over the finish, going as far to say that he felt “robbed” by the outcome.

Dalziel also told MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno afterwards: “I never saw the car off. But I’ve never known GRAND-AM or [the American Le Mans Series] to throw competition cautions before.”

Still, he noted the mix of Prototypes in the Top 4 finishing positions: Ganassi’s DP, his team’s P2 car, the third-place No. 5 Action Express DP, and the fourth-place P2 from OAK Racing.

“I don’t know how anybody could’ve complained about that,” he said. “It just would’ve been nice if it was a P2, [then a DP in second], but it wasn’t.”

Dalziel also felt that his time behind the wheel of the No. 1 ESM machine (which he shared with ex-IndyCar man Scott Sharp and David Brabham) was solid.

He additionally sounded off on the multiple first-half wrecks that marred the event, which included two major crashes in the Prototype Challenge category.

One of those PC incidents saw Alex Tagliani slam into Gaston Kearby after the latter lost control of his car and then attempted to spin himself back in the right direction.

Unfortunately, Kearby spun into the racing line and “Tag” was unable to keep from hitting him. Both drivers came out of it OK, but it was still a lowlight of the afternoon.

“The first part of the race was – it’s always the same with these big races, it’s no different at Daytona – when you get to the halfway point, all the crap cars and idiots make mistakes for themselves and take themselves out of the race,” Dalziel explained.

“Much like the couple of big incidents we had today – they were people where it was just waiting to happen…You’re thankful no one is hurt but on the other hand, you almost are relieved the cars are out of the race.

“Unfortunately, they took a couple of competitive cars with them, but I think [with the bigger car count], we’re gonna face that all year and we’re gonna have to deal with it.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.