Sebastien Bourdais’ former engineer heading to Arrow McLaren SP

INDYCAR Photo
INDYCAR Photo
1 Comment

The demise of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan continued Monday with the announcement its famed engineer, Craig Hampson, was joining Arrow McLaren SP. Hampson will become Race and R&D Engineer at the team that combines McLaren and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Hampson is most famous as the engineer at Newman Haas Lanigan Racing when Sebastien Bourdais was the driver from 2003 to 2007. From 2004 to 2007, the Hampson and Bourdais combination won four-straight Champ Car Series championships.

The two were reunited at Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan in 2017 and were an instant success, winning the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. With Hampson’s engineering and Bourdais’ rejuvenated racing skill, the operation was able to enjoy the lead in the IndyCar standings entering the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Bourdais engineered a rocket ship for Bourdais in Indianapolis 500 qualifications that year and the driver was running the fastest speeds of the day before he lost control of the car entering Turn 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Onboard data showed Bourdais had the car at 97 percent throttle when it slammed into the wall at 227 miles per hour.

Bourdais suffered fractures to his legs and pelvis that required surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. One week later, he was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to join the team as a spectator at the 101st Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais returned to the final three races of the 2017 and again, the Hampson-led team with Bourdais behind the wheel won the Firestone Grand Prix for the season year in a row in 2018.

The two remained a vital part of the No. 18 Honda at DCR with Vasser and Sullivan until team owner Coyne suffered a major budgetary hit in early November. Without the additional money required to run a competitive two-car NTT IndyCar Series team, Coyne released Bourdais on November 22.

Hampson remained, fueling speculation that he could help lure James Hinchcliffe, another popular driver out of a ride, to Coyne’s operation.

On Monday, however, it was announced Hampson will join the Arrow McLaren SP team and work with its two young drivers and the past two Indy Lights Series champions Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew.

“I am very excited to be joining the highly capable group of talented team members that Arrow McLaren SP has already assembled,” Hampson said Monday “There are people there who I have worked with in the past, plus others who I have previously regarded as formidable competition. I am eager to integrate into the projects, preparation, and momentum that they already have underway for the 2020 season.

“This will be a year of growth and learning, but I’m confident that this team has the expertise, commercial backing, access to technology, and willful ambition that makes it possible to plot a course where in due time we will regularly challenge for race wins, Indy 500 victories, and season championships.”

Hampson comes to Arrow McLaren SP with more than 25 years of frontline experience in the sport with leading teams. During his race engineering career to date, he has more than 30 wins, four Champ Car titles and two Indy 500 victories to his name.

“Recruiting someone of Craig’s experience and expertise is an important step for the team as we build towards the next level of competitiveness,” said Taylor Kiel, managing director, Arrow McLaren SP. “He is not only an accomplished and well-respected engineer but a strong technical leader who will be a key member of our established team.”

Two of the top engineers at Dale Coyne Racing have left the team since the end of the season. Michael Cannon, who was key in the development of rookie Santino Ferrucci, left to join Chip Ganassi Racing in October. Hampson’s departure on Monday is another troubling sign for the NTT IndyCar Series operation that became a very competitive team in recent seasons.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

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

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
0 Comments

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