Coyne crew rallies to rebuild Bourdais’ chassis for INDYCAR GP

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INDIANAPOLIS – After sustaining heavy damage at the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on April 29, the fourth race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda has been repaired ahead of this weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which is just a two-day event on Friday and Saturday.

Owing in part to Coyne’s limited resources, the goal of repairing Bourdais’ car from the first lap accident at Phoenix was one the team had in mind coming into this race, before the Indianapolis 500.

Team owner Dale Coyne told NBC Sports after Phoenix while Bourdais’ car was not tubbed – meaning a total write-off – there was significant damage to all four corners of the car, which required a thrash to get back fully going.

“It’s not tubbed, but it’s everything but the tub. We broke all four corners and both undertrays. It’s pretty bad,” Coyne said at Phoenix.

Coyne later told Trackside Online at the Gateway Motorsports Park test last week he expected the repair cost to be “north of $250,000.” A further analysis of the crew rebuild from Bourdais’ engineer Craig Hampson and crew chief Todd Phillips in a piece authored by Motorsport.com’s David Malsher.

Bourdais then shared the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda with Ed Jones at the Gateway test last week, so this week will mark his first time back in the No. 18 car since its been repaired.

From the team release, “Thanks to a great job by the DCR crew, Bourdais will be able to get back behind the wheel of the #18 Sonny’s BBQ car that suffered major race ending damage at the start of the previous round in Phoenix.

“With his car now as good as new, Bourdais is looking to return to his season-opening form this weekend, while rookie Jones hopes to continue making progress in what has been a promising rookie campaign so far.”

The Phoenix crash knocked Bourdais from the points lead to fourth in points, now 31 back of countryman Simon Pagenaud who’s first.

Bourdais banked a pair of fourth place finishes in the first two INDYCAR Grands Prix in 2014 and 2015, but retired early last year after first lap contact with Tony Kanaan. Jones, meanwhile, won one of two Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races at the road course last year en route to winning the championship.

“It’s the beginning of May and the Indy Grand Prix is always an important event. Many times, it’s been a bit of a turning point in my season,” Bourdais said in the team’s release. “Sometimes we’d have a rough start to the year and then it would go relatively well at the Grand Prix. Except last year, when it ended a little prematurely with Tony (Kanaan) who didn’t see us coming from the outside at the start.

“Generally, I’ve always performed well at the INDYCAR Grand Prix. It’s a track that I enjoy and I hope things will go well for us. I think we’re starting to understand a lot of little things with our aero package and other things so hopefully we can put everything together and put in a performance that will meet our expectations in both qualifying and the race.”

Hamilton hails ‘greatest day’ after USGP victory, Mercedes title win

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his jubilation after taking a giant step towards his fourth Formula 1 championship win with victory in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix that also saw Mercedes clinch the constructors’ title.

Hamilton recovered from an early pass by F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel to take his sixth victory on American soil, five of which have come at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, to extend his lead to 66 points.

With just 75 left on offer this season, Hamilton needs just one top-five finish in the final three races to clinch his fourth world title, with the enormity of the victory not being lost on the Mercedes driver.

“Today has been amazing. It’s been the greatest day,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race.

“I woke up a bit tired, felt the rain, then was like, ‘What the hell?’ But I didn’t mind. I won here in the rain in the past. Then it dried up, clear blue skies, amazing opening at the beginning of the GP.

“I lost first place into Turn 1. It was OK. That first section, we got through there, and it felt very reminiscent of 2012: ‘Game on. You have to save the tires’, and he wasn’t doing that. I kind of kept my cool.”

“I saw I got a good exit of Turn 1, this was the lap and it was. His tires were dropping off anyway.”

Hamilton’s victory saw Mercedes wrap up its fourth consecutive F1 constructors’ title with three races to spare, with the Briton having played a key part in each of its successes.

“I’m so proud of this team. Big congratulations to the guys, people don’t know the amount of work they do,” Hamilton said.

“It’s over 1,500 people in two factories, so much brainpower and a lot of people to manage to extract the best from each of those.

“To come into a new era of car and perform as we have. There’s been a newfound love within the team. Ferrari, we want to beat them, thrash them.

“So they put more hours of working in to do that. That’s for all their hard work.”