Bourdais, Sato trade blows in pit lane brawl Saturday at Toronto

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TORONTO – An international incident broke out on the streets of Toronto Saturday that culminated with Sebastien Bourdais of France trading punches with Japan’s Takuma Sato on pit lane. It was a matter of some frustration that has been brewing for the past several races.

The most recent incident came at the end of Saturday’s practice session before qualifications for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Watch the Honda Indy Toronto on NBCSN Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

Each car was given one final lap after the first practice session had been halted for a red flag after Graham Rahal stuffed his Honda into the tire barrier in Turn 1. As the field went out to complete one final “flyer” Bourdais passed Sato, as if he were intending to improve position.

Sato, however, took it as a sign of disrespect because it was the final lap of practice. After all cars came down pit lane, Sato climbed out of his Honda, ran down pit lane and confronted Bourdais as he was climbing out of his Honda.

Sato grabbed Bourdais by the collar of his firesuit, Bourdais pushed him away, and then punches started to fly.

Several of the punches connected, but both drivers were still wearing their helmets. The fight was broken up by Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan public relations director Kevin Diamond, who handles the PR for Bourdais.

Diamond was successful in pushing Sato away.

After Saturday’s qualifications, both drivers spoke about the incident.

“I passed him on the out-lap, and it pissed him off,” Bourdais told NBC Sports. “I’m not sure it deserved that kind of reaction, but it doesn’t matter. If there was anything, I’m the one who should be pretty pissed. He pretty much ruined our race in Texas from three laps down and blocked us the last three stints.

“I’ve never asked him for anything. We know he races hard but with that little incident, I’m not so sure what should happen to him.”

Sato gave his side of the story and said, “I’m cool.”

The 101stIndianapolis 500 winner continued by saying, “He was excited. It wasn’t me,” referring to Bourdais. “Passing me was absolutely pointless. It was just one lap. He went blasting by me and then turned into Josef Newgarden.

“What was the point?”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III