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Bourdais sustains several fractures in qualifying accident at Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais has been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip following an incident today while attempting to qualify for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, INDYCAR announced late Saturday.

Additionally, according to INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Bourdais will undergo surgery on his pelvis this evening at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

“Sebastien is in good hands here at IU Methodist Hospital with the staff and now we just wait for him to recover,” Bourdais’ team owner, Dale Coyne, said in a release.

The first day of qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was interrupted – literally and emotionally – by Bourdais’ heavy accident just over halfway through the field of 33’s first and only attempts to run on Saturday.

Bourdais was the 19th driver to take to the track, driving the newly sponsored No. 18 GEICO Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. With his practice pace all week, Bourdais was a legitimate threat to make the Fast Nine shootout on Sunday.

He ran the two fastest laps of the day, at 231.472 and an even quicker 231.595 mph, before it all went wrong in Turn 2. The back end snapped and as Bourdais turned right to correct it, wound up going in straight into the Turn 2 SAFER barrier at almost a direct head-on impact.

That snapped the car and turned it over, before the car came right side up. It was a jarring impact that immediately cast a pall – and a silence – over the usually noisy Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and raised immediate concerns among the IndyCar fraternity.

Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones, who only barely got knocked out of the Fast Nine shootout following JR Hildebrand’s late run, said simply, “Yeah, at the moment we’re just hoping the best for Seb after the crash. Hopefully we hear some better news soon.”

Scott Dixon, one of the leaders of the IndyCar community, is very close to Bourdais. Bourdais and Dixon are teammates in the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT program in sports cars, and race in separate cars at endurance races in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans, the latter of which is next month.

Dixon said had Bourdais completed his run without incident, there was a good chance he would have been at the top of the sheets today.

“The one that obviously stood out for me during the whole week was Bourdais. Thinking of him, hoping he’s okay. It was definitely a big hit. Hopefully he should be fine,” Dixon said.

“But I think he was definitely going to be the one that had a clear advantage I think over the rest of the field. So I feel bad for that.”

Ed Carpenter, who ended the day fastest, said he continued to wish for Bourdais’ fast recovery. He also said you need to put incidents to the back of mind after they happen and press on.

“It takes your breath away. I was watching it in the garage. That’s one of the biggest single-car qualifying crashes I’ve seen around here,” Carpenter admitted.

“As soon as I saw him correct and the angle he was going in at, you knew it was going to be big. I’m hoping he’s okay. It was good to see him moving around the amount we did see him moving around. Hopefully we’ll get some good news tonight.

“But things like that happen. I love doing this. I love being here. I’m sure Scott is no different. When you do it for this long, you see a lot of things happen, it’s something you talk to your family about, and you’re all committed in together.

“When you get in the car and put your helmet on, it all goes away. We’re out there to do a job, to entertain the fans, do the best job we can for our team and sponsors.

“It does take your breath away when you see it. When you get out there and get into battle again, it all goes away.”

Like Bourdais, another recent Formula 1 driver-turned-IndyCar full-timer in Max Chilton explained just how finite the knife edge is. Had he not lifted on his third of four laps, he may have met a similar fate in the wall as Bourdais did.

“You’re only ever a mph away from a problem around here. It’s difficult,” Chilton told NBC Sports. “We trimmed out – which is risky – but if you got that extra step, maybe you’re quick for one or two laps but the tires start to wear out and the wind gets stronger, and you’re off.

“I actually lifted into Turn 2, where Bourdais went off; I turned late and had a bit of understeer so it looked like I was going straight into the wall – and that was a 228 – but then the next lap I got into the high 229s. It’s so close.”

Quickly proving he cares about the new IndyCar community he is a part of, at least for one race, even Fernando Alonso was serious to ensure Bourdais’ health was all that mattered.

“That’s the most important thing of today, you know, that Sebastien is okay,” Alonso said. “He seems to be okay. Yeah, definitely I was doing the interviews when the crash happened. I need to see more precise what happened. It seems the car went loose into one, he lost control unfortunately.

“But, yeah, as I said, he seems okay. I know him from F1 time, and also yesterday we were talking in the casino, in the event, all together about the cars, about how he feels here, how fast he was on Friday. He was still very fast today until lap two.

“Hopefully everything is okay with him. Quick recovery, and welcome him back here at the track as soon as possible, if not tomorrow, in the next days.”

Alonso’s thoughts are well received. Meanwhile, others in the rest of the IndyCar world have weighed in on Twitter.

On Friday, Bourdais was asked about ups-and-downs in his season – he led the points after three races with a win, second and eighth, then has had back-to-back DNFs in the two races since, and has had two engine failures in the last week. He just said at the time, that’s the process of racing.

“Just have days like that. It’s what this season has been for us so far,” Bourdais said on Friday. “We’ve had really good days and really pretty terrible days. But the good thing is, you know, when we’re given the opportunity, we seem to make the best of it. The car is quick. We’re having a good time.

“It’s racing. You are always going to have ups and downs. You just keep plugging away and just do your thing. Eventually hopefully it all averages out and you get more good days than bad ones.”

The most important thing is that good ones lie ahead in Bourdais’ recovery process.

Andretti Autosport endures tough Road America outing

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All four of the Andretti Autosport drivers encountered significant problems during the Kohler Grand Prix, and none of them were able to salvage finishes inside the top ten as a result.

Most notably, Takuma Sato endured the most difficult weekend of the four-car armada after suffering a pinched nerve in his neck on Saturday, which forced him to miss the morning warmup.

And things didn’t get any better during the race, as a lap 28 spin exiting the Kink saw him lose a lap and forced him to play catchup even more than he already was. Although Sato managed to finish the race, hardly insignificant given his neck injury, he did so in 19th after starting 20th in what proved to be his worst race since winning the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

“It was a tough weekend and tough race,” lamented Sato. “I injured my neck during practice Saturday morning. We started in the back row, tried to make a push up, but I caught an accident. The engine was stalled and I wasn’t sure if we could continue, but the safety crew came and fired up the engine, so I came back to the pit, buckled again and I was able to keep going. In the end we made the finish, but we need a better weekend.”

His teammates did not fair much better. Alexander Rossi, who qualified a disappointing 15th, ran a four-stop pit strategy, and while he cycled into the top five at one point, an issue with the front wing saw him fall to 13th at the finish.

Alexander Rossi was fast Road America, but an issue with the front wing dropped him back in the field at the end. Photo: IndyCar

“I think we started with a good strategy, going for a four-stop race after starting 15th, but it all caught up to us on that first yellow,” Rossi explained. “Luckily, we had already gained track position and speed running on open track. We had an issue with our front wing, which ironically or not, is the same issue we finished the race with here last year, so we definitely need to figure out exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, too, had strong pace, even leading the Sunday morning warmup and running inside the top ten late in the race. But, contact with Charlie Kimball while battling for sixth broke the front wing on the No. 28 DHL Honda, and Hunter-Reay languished in 14th at the checkered flag.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was was 14th at the checkered flag after battling inside the top ten late in the race. Photo: IndyCar

“Charlie (Kimball) made a late block and took off my front wing. I had a good race going until Charlie moved out late like that, it’s just really unfortunate,” Hunter-Reay said of the incident.

Meanwhile, Marco Andretti battled a litany of problems, ranging from throttle issues to a broken pit speed limiter, which resulted in a drive-penalty for speeding during a round of pit stops. Andretti was a lowly 18th at the finish.

Marco Andretti battled a host of problems during the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“We started eighth, but ran into throttle problems. We went off track on the first stint because the throttle stuck wide open. We came into the pits to try to fix it and got hit with a pit lane speed violation because my pit lane limiter wasn’t working. We still weren’t getting full throttle – I was barely hitting sixth gear,” he lamented afterward.

Sato remains in the top five in the championship, now sitting fourth, 56 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Rossi sits ninth, with Andretti and Hunter-Reay 13th and 15th respectively.

 

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Kimball, Chilton quiet but solid at Road America

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While Scott Dixon scored victory for Chip Ganassi Racing, two of the team’s other drivers enjoyed quietly solid days at the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America.

Charlie Kimball, in need of a strong finish after being stricken with bad luck so far in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, scored his best finish of the year with a fine run to sixth place. While he was never a part of the battle for victory, he was “best of the rest” for most of the day and enjoyed a solid, mistake-free run.

“Overall a really solid day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team,” Kimball said afterward. Though he admitted tire management in the race’s third stint hampered his efforts, he was more than pleased with the end result.

“That third stint, I don’t think I managed the Firestone alternates as well as some of the guys around me,” Kimball revealed. “You saw that with (Will Power) with a better in and out lap. That was disappointing, because I think we could have maybe had a shot at a top five. Overall though, to fight off some competitors for that last stint after the final yellow felt good and it felt good to bring it home in sixth for the guys. Kind of a semi-trouble free weekend and pretty happy with it.”

Teammate Max Chilton, too, scored a solid ten finish, the Briton finishing ninth. However, unlike Kimball, Chilton lamented not being able to finish higher on a circuit where he feels very comfortable.

Max Chilton during qualifying for the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s not how we wanted it, especially after how quick we were (in the morning warmup),” said Chilton, who started seventh and was second fastest in the morning warmup. Like Kimball, he struggled with tire management, and an untimely caution when he was on the primary black tires put paid to his chances of a better finish.

“Something just wasn’t working for us. On a set of reds, we were struggling massively and then we went to the blacks, which would’ve been alright, but then the safety car came out and everyone else had longer life on the reds and I was struggling again.”

With the Kohler Grand Prix in the books, Chilton currently sits 11th in the championship, three points behind tenth-place Ed Jones, while Kimball remains 18th, 72 points outside the top ten.

Mahindra to give M4Electro Formula E car public debut at Goodwood

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Mahindra Racing will debut its new car for the fourth Formula E season, the M4Electro, at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week as part of a bid to beat the existing open-wheel electric record for the hillclimb.

As part of its preparations for season four of Formula E, set to start in Hong Kong at the beginning of December, Mahindra has already hit the track with the M4Electro in private testing.

Full-season drivers Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld have both completed running in the car, while Indian actress Gul Panag has also taken part in a test.

Heidfeld will give the M4Electro its first public outing at Goodwood and look to become the first driver to hold two records at the hillclimb.

The German driver holds the overall hillclimb record of 41.6 seconds at Goodwood, set back in 1999 in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula 1 car.

“We’re excited to bring Nick and the M4Electro to Goodwood in a bid to set the fastest open-wheel electric record on the hillclimb,” Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“We are always looking to push the boundaries as a team and we couldn’t think of a better way to introduce the season four challenger to fans and automotive enthusiasts alike than at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.”

Qualcomm named title partner for New York Formula E race

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FIA Formula E has announced that technology company Qualcomm will be the title partner for the upcoming New York City ePrix as the all-electric series gears up to hit the United States in three weeks’ time.

New York City will play host to its first motorsport event in Red Hook on July 15-16, acting as the penultimate round of Formula E’s third season.

Qualcomm has been a key partner for Formula E since the series’ inception in 2014, and will now act as the New York race’s title partner after acquiring the naming rights, as announced on Monday. The event will be formally called the ‘Qualcomm New York City ePrix’.

“As one of our founding partners – and now for the first time a race title partner for one of the most anticipated races of the season – Qualcomm Technologies’ continued support and commitment to Formula E has been instrumental,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“We share many of the same values in the field of innovation and technology transfer, which we’ve already seen with unique wireless charging concepts.

“I’m looking forward to making history in New York by bringing Formula E to the Big Apple for the first time – it’s going to be an unmissable event.”

Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Incorporated, added: “Qualcomm inventions enable widespread innovation, just as motorsport fuels the evolution of the automotive industry.

“Formula E, including this Qualcomm ePrix race in New York City, is a great testbed for our automotive breakthroughs such as wireless electric vehicle charging.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Formula E to promote the benefits of the latest vehicle technologies as cars become more connected, autonomous and electric.”