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?”

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.