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.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”