Sebastien Bourdais returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, just over one week following a savage crash in qualifying that saw him suffer multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip.
In a press conference with members of the media, Bourdais expressed confidence about his recovery. “I’m doing good enough to be here. So that’s great!” he quipped. “It’s great to be out of the hospital environment. I’ve never really faced that before. It’s great to feel normal right now and to be able to walk around and see some familiar faces and see a lot of friends.”
Bourdais explained that his rehab process is still in its early stages, and that a lot of it is down to pain management. But, he does hope to be racing again before the season ends.
“It’s just going to be a long process. I can’t put any weight on my right leg for another five weeks. So it’s just going to be a game of patience and trying to make sure I’m ready when it matters. I’m shooting for the end of the season in Sonoma,” he explained.
Returning to the race track, particularly for Sunday’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, was also a critical aspect of rehabilitation, especially when it comes to overcoming mental and emotional hurdles. “For me, it’s just important to make sure that I stay in good spirits. Physically I’m doing well, and I have no intention to let this incident stop my career or anything,” he asserted.
The crash itself was one of the most frightening anyone has seen in quite some time, as he impacted the wall at a 45 degree angle while still traveling at well over 200 mph. And while safety is a constantly moving target, Bourdais was very complimentary of the current Dallara DW12 chassis, which prevented the injuries from being much more serious.
“The car did a really good job head-on,” he explained. “I don’t have any injuries on my feet or anything like that. But if we could avoid pelvis and hip fractures like that, that would be great. But I don’t think there are a lot of people who can say they have survived a head-on crash at 227. I don’t know that everybody knows, but I was still full throttle when I hit the wall. It’s a pretty good testament.”
In terms of the team’s future, owner Dale Coyne detailed that he has been in contact with several drivers about next week’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader, but no decision has been made. “We’ve probably had 25 drivers contact (us) for Detroit and on. Some usual names, and ones you may be surprised at. We’ll make that decision Monday or Tuesday,” Coyne said of the team’s future.
Bourdais, meanwhile, is anxious to get back as soon as he can, as he believes Dale Coyne Racing is building something special. “We’re building something at Dale Coyne Racing thanks to Dale and Gail and all the engineers and everybody who is hard at work, the mechanics and all. I think we have a great launching pad for the future, and I want to be part of that. That’s why I want to come back as soon as possible.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais hopes to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, just over a week after his accident left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip in an accident in qualifying.
The Frenchman has already been released from IU Methodist Hospital on Wednesday and during NBCSN’s coverage of Carb Day practice, checked in with the booth crew to update his recovery progress.
“I think I’m doing as well as I could have ever hoped for,” Bourdais told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee. “My surgery went well. I was walking two days after the wreck. It’s been a little weird! But the pain is managed.”
Team owner Dale Coyne also checked in on Bourdais’ progress as well.
“He’s feeling good. He moved out of hospital Wednesday,” Coyne told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt. “If all goes as planned, we’ll get him out here Sunday.”
As for when Bourdais can return to the cockpit?
“The surgeon said he’s out for season… of course Seb says he wants to do Le Mans!” Coyne laughed. “It’s going to be a long recovery. But Sonoma? Maybe.”
Also during the segment, NBCSN pit reporter Jon Beekhuis noted an older specification rear wing configuration on the back of Bourdais’ replacement, James Davison’s No. 18 GEICO Honda. This should help Davison on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais only posted on Tuesday that he was “unable to go for a run” – his spirit and humor clearly not affected despite sustaining multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip in his crash during qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the No. 18 GEICO Honda on Saturday.
On Thursday, his post revealed even better news: he’s been released from IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, and will be set to fly home soon to Florida for his rehabilitation.
Bourdais’ place in the race at Dale Coyne Racing will be taken by James Davison, but judging by this first round of leaving, the Frenchman is keen to begin the recovery process as quick as humanly possible.
Bourdais later updated his hopes to return as soon as possible in a release out Thursday from INDYCAR, which you can see in full, below.
Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sebastien Bourdais, injured in a crash May 20 during a qualifying attempt for the 101st Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, was discharged from IU Health Methodist Hospital on Wednesday and has been moved to a local rehabilitation facility.
Bourdais sustained multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip when his No. 18 GEICO Honda crashed into the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on the third lap of his qualifications attempt Saturday. The Dale Coyne Racing driver underwent successful surgery that evening at IU Health Methodist Hospital.
“Sebastien is progressing amazingly fast for having pelvis and hip fractures, and considering the severity of the crash,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Scheid, an INDYCAR medical consultant. “He is walking with crutches, in good spirits and feeling good.
“We expect the fractures to heal in around eight weeks and he should be able to start putting weight on the right leg then. Until that time, he can work on rehabilitating his upper body, core strength and range of motion in the hip.”
Bourdais, the 38-year-old four-time Indy car champion, expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in his care from the time of the incident.
“I’m obviously really happy to be up on my feet and feeling pretty good about being able to walk on crutches,” Bourdais said. “I’m really thankful to all the people at IU Health Methodist and the Holmatro Safety Team, everybody at INDYCAR and my team, Dale Coyne Racing, for helping me achieve that so early after the crash.
“It’s going to be a bit of a long road ahead,” he added. “I still have six weeks before I can put weight on my right leg and put my foot on the ground, but after that it should be pretty smooth sailing. I’m really looking forward to the day I can get back in the car, and hopefully that will be before the end of the season. I look forward to seeing you guys at the track.”
Updates on Bourdais’ condition will be released when available.
INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais posted for the first couple times on Twitter on Tuesday since his accident on Saturday that left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture in his right hip.
Bourdais, driver of the No. 18 GEICO Honda for Dale Coyne Racing, was injured during a qualifying run that was on pace to be the fastest of the day and secure his place in the Fast Nine shootout to win pole for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
From IU Methodist hospital, Bourdais already joked he “wouldn’t be going for a run” since he’s on crutches, and then had a visit from the rest of the Coyne crew. He’s thanked everyone for their support.
“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,’” Coyne told Malsher.
Talented young guns Matthew Brabham and RC Enerson were also mentioned within Malsher’s report as possibilities to take over the No. 18 Honda the rest of the way, having both impressed in limited 2016 race starts. Enerson also has the familiarity of working with Coyne in his three races last season.
Neither has a full-time ride this year in open-wheel but have driven elsewhere, Brabham in Robby Gordon’s SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks and Enerson with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports in IMSA.
INDIANAPOLIS – James Davison does not have a full-time ride in the 2017 racing season, which meant he was available for more particular one-off opportunities that could arise.
Davison, now 30, received the call Sunday morning from team owner Dale Coyne to take up a one-off that arguably neither side was ready for, nor one Coyne necessarily wanted to go through.
But a familiarity between Davison and Coyne – he’s driven for the team in three of his four past Verizon IndyCar Series starts in 2013 and 2015 – provides a bit of continuity as he gets the call-up to replace the injured Sebastien Bourdais ahead of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Davison was at Road America at the time when he first saw the accident.
“I was at Road America, watching on a live stream. I was pretty horrified to be honest,” Davison said Monday after running 88 laps in his first day back in an IndyCar in almost two years.
“I had a pain in my stomach. You knew he had to be hurt in some way. It brought back a déjà vu of (James) Hinchcliffe’s crash for many. Certainly was holding my breath. It wasn’t nice to see.”
What it also did was provide a quick response from drivers who weren’t set to be in this year’s Indianapolis 500 to reach out to Coyne to see the status of the No. 18 Honda, while also putting the concern of Bourdais’ health first and foremost.
And, truth be told, Coyne had options to pick from. Davison was known to have been working on a ‘500 program for several months, but his own chances were halted when Fernando Alonso’s shock program was.
“It was my plan to be in the race this year. (I was) aware there was a limited supply of engines and chassis. Someone’s got to miss out. A lot of us didn’t see the Alonso thing coming. That took an engine away from even Stefan or I,” Davison said.
“I knew there was a possibility someone could get hurt, right? You never wish for that. So you’re around the paddock in case something does happen, and you’re there.”
On site in Indianapolis, Tristan Vautier, Matthew Brabham and Stefan Wilson were also pounding the pavement, working to see whether they could be an option too. Other veteran names were murmured, if not actually on site.
Certainly from some paddock observers, and names as big as four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, Wilson seemed a fit from a sentimental standpoint. Wilson had been set to join in the Andretti entry before stepping aside for Alonso, and his late brother Justin had been the one who’d achieved Coyne’s greatest successes.
Davison, on the other hand, was thinking about another name that could have been his “competition” for the lone vacant seat in the field, while also explaining the process of how he got the ride and how awkward said process is.
“I heard from Dale just after 9 a.m. yesterday morning. He told me to come meet him in the garage. Clearly he’s interested, was what I knew,” Davison said.
“For a number of us drivers, we were hoping we’d get the call-up for at least 12-16 hours or so. There was a lot of nervous energy built up, going through our heads, thinking who’s my competition, and who’s likely to get in the seat.
“I thought Townsend (Bell, NBCSN IndyCar analyst) would be possible – my biggest challenge, if he wanted it. He’s had really good runs here. He’s pulled the pin on driving full-time… but if an opportunity presented itself though where he could jump in, and feel he could win the race, he’d consider it.
“Plus, Townsend’s phenomenal at raising sponsorship. I thought Townsend could have possibly been. But maybe, I’m not sure if he even considered it himself. It was a huge relief when I knew, and I was given the go-ahead.”
What then occurred Sunday morning was a whirlwind of emotions and drivers going in-and-out of the Coyne garage to receive either good (Davison) or bad (everyone else) news.
“Basically, we then had to meet in the garage and chat,” Davison said. “Once I got the go-ahead it was then a totally different state of mind. I have to get my INDYCAR license. I need to call the sponsors. I have to get my helmet. I need to get fitted in the car. I was at the track until 11 p.m. last night doing the seat fit, then here at 8 a.m. this morning.
“It’s been a stressful 48 hours; my mind racing a lot, and especially watching pole day unfold. There’s everyone running 233 mph… and I haven’t even turned a lap. Talk about a contrast. It was kind of bizarre, the state of mind I’ve been in. I’m excited I’m in the race, but it’s for a very unfortunate reason. It is what it is, we’ll do the best we can with the situation.”
Davison was back in action Monday morning with 20-plus laps on his own, with 88 laps total completed on the day. This marked his first day working with engineer Craig Hampson, while he had worked with engineer Olivier Boisson in his rookie Indianapolis 500 attempt with KV Racing Technology in 2014, when he finished 16th.
He said the team was conservative with downforce selections and thinks a finish in the top half of the field is achievable.
“It came back to me like it was yesterday, two years ago was yesterday,” he said. “I was running in a pack with Hinchcliffe and Alonso nearly immediately. They may have assisted with lifting. Time passes, and there was no problem feeling in context.
“It’s nice the Honda is certainly strong. For sure today, we ran conservatively. Maybe didn’t run in traffic as much as I would have liked, but we worked on the balance and the aero trim as well.
“I think we have to be (modest), based on where we are with our situation. With good improvements between now and Carb Day, and the race, hopefully those will go up.
“From the outset, it was always going to be like this.”