IMSA ride culminates a difficult two weeks for Bourdais

INDYCAR Photo
INDYCAR Photo
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One of the most respected and well-decorated NTT IndyCar Series drivers, Sebastien Bourdais, wants to remain in INDYCAR, but instead will have to compete in a full-time IMSA beginning in 2020.

“I never wanted to leave INDYCAR,” Bourdais told NBC Sports.com late Friday night. “I have to find something to build on for 2020. The timing of things, there wasn’t anything left for me in INDYCAR in 2020. The opportunity for me to drive in IMSA, I will go to try to win races and try to win the championship.

“Hopefully, I will find something to return to IndyCar in 2021.

“I didn’t leave. I was terminated. But I want to return in 2021. I just have to find the right opportunity.”

Bourdais announced on Friday he was leaving Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan’s No. 18 Honda in IndyCar. Beginning next season, he will compete in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling RacinJDC-Miller MotorSports g Cadillac DPi-V. R in the 2020 and 2021 seasons of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

Bourdais joins two-time series champion Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 entry in IMSA. He credits the team’s former driver and current consultant Christian Fittipaldi for helping him finalize the deal.

“Following two very difficult weeks filled with uncertainty regarding my future, I am thrilled to get the opportunity to race a prototype again, be reunited with Joao, Ken and Brenda, and drive for JDC-Miller MotorSports and Mustang Sampling Racing,” Bourdais said. “I want to thank Christian and everyone who made this possible. 2020 can’t come soon enough and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of our Cadillac DPi-V.R.”

Bourdais returns to prototype competition after spending the past four seasons as a part of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT program in addition to the last three seasons with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan in IndyCar.

The former Peugeot Sport LMP1 driver brings a wealth of top-level prototype experience to JDC-Miller MotorSports and the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry.

It was perhaps the off-season’s most surprising announcement as the four-time Champ Car Series champion and 37-time NTT IndyCar Series race winner decided to leave IndyCar for IMSA.

Mustang-Sampling won the WeatherTech SportsCar Team and Driver Championships in 2015, the Michelin Endurance Cup in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2018.

“We are honored to have Mustang Sampling joining us and grateful for the confidence Brenda and Ken Thompson have placed in our team and organization,” said John Church, managing partner of JDC-Miller MotorSports. “Mustang Sampling Racing has achieved a tremendous amount in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. We look forward to carrying on the legacy of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry and hope to add more wins and championships in the near future.”

“We are thrilled to continue our Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac Prototype program with our new partner JDC-Miller MotorSports in 2020,” said Mustang Sampling president Ken Thompson. “Our first five years in IMSA with Action Express, Corvette, and Cadillac were great. Learning the sport and becoming a part of the IMSA family promoting sport car racing for all the great fans was fantastic and we are very thankful to all who guided us along the way. We had much success, enjoyed many wins and Championships during that time. Now with our partnership with JDC-Miller MotorSports we are confident this amazing run will continue and provide many future wins and Championships. Since joining the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship in 2014 JDC-Miller MotorSports has shown incredible growth and success in every category they have competed. We feel as a group we can be successful, both on and off the track, as we work together to develop new opportunities for Mustang Sampling and our Fans.”

Fittipaldi completed his final year as a racing driver and is looking forward to his new opportunity.

“I am extremely happy with what we have accomplished today,” Fittipaldi said. “A lot of effort from everyone involved has gone into putting this package together and I could not be happier with our driver line-up and what we have achieved. Most thanks to Mustang Sampling, Ken and Brenda for their trust and our new partner JDC-Miller MotorSports. I cannot wait for the season to start and to see the #5 Cadillac again at Daytona.”

The team also confirmed 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Loïc Duval will complete the line-up for the endurance rounds. Duval currently competes with Audi in the DTM and Formula E championship.

“First of all, I am obviously super happy to be able to return to Daytona with a great team, car and fast experienced co-drivers. I am very excited for the challenge and looking forward to my first laps in a Cadillac.” Duval said.

JDC-Miller further confirmed that it plans to continue running a two-car Cadillac DPi program in 2020.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

 

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.