TORONTO (AP) Sebastien Bourdais is trading in his helmet this weekend for the IndyCar race in Toronto. And he is looking ahead to a possible return near the end of the season.
The Frenchman is returning to the race track in a mentorship role for Dale Coyne Racing just two months after a crash during qualifying for the Indy 500. The two-time Toronto winner will help out team rookies Ed Jones and Esteban Gutierrez. Bourdais finished seventh in Toronto last year.
Bourdais fractured his pelvis , a hip and two ribs when his car exploded into pieces and spun through Turn 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after hitting the wall at 227 mph.
“If I see something, then I’ll try and help, and if I don’t, then I’ll just shut up and see what happens,” Bourdais said Thursday.
“I’ve been around this place a lot, but there’s only so much you can do from the outside so we’ll see how I can help them. It was important for me and the team to show up for the first time since the accident and just get to see everybody and try and contribute to the effort.”
Bourdais, 38, was walking without crutches and says his progress is ahead of schedule. He is not ruling out a return this season.
“Unless I get in the car in testing and call it quits because I’m not ready, the plan is to do Watkins and Sonoma,” Bourdais said of the final two races of the season. “That’s been my goal since really looking at the time frame and where we were going to be at the six weeks weight bearing, the eight weeks walking.”
Seeing the four-time IndyCar Series champion back around the track was a welcome sight. Will Power stopped to chat with Bourdais after the news conference.
“It’s great to see him back, can’t wait to see him in a car,” he said.
Bourdais, who started the season with a win at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, said that he has been starting to exercise again, which includes some cycling.
“It’s kind of a weird feeling because there’s some groups that are fairly equal side to side and one little thing that you feel very vulnerable,” Bourdais said. “But it’s all coming back nice and slow, but it’s going to be a bit of a process for sure.”
Being in a coaching position is nothing new for Bourdais, but it’s never come at the expense of him being sidelined. He said he’s fine with the mentorship role even though it’s tough not to be in the car.
“I’ve tried to be a good patient, not trying to rush things and do anything stupid,” he said. “But obviously now that I’m feeling not 100 percent but not far from it either, it’s definitely kind of itching to get back into the car.”