AJ Foyt Racing hires Sebastien Bourdais full time for IndyCar in 2021

Sebastien Bourdais AJ Foyt
IndyCar
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Sebastien Bourdais will join AJ Foyt Racing full time next season driving the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet.

The four-time champion of the Champ Car Series originally was scheduled to share the car with Tony Kanaan and Dalton Kellett this season, racing in the opening three races for Foyt. Bourdais tested the No. 14 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and at a private test at Sebring International Raceway in February.

He has raced full time in the IMSA circuit this season without making any NTT IndyCar Series starts but will drive the final three races in 2020 for Foyt.

“We waited with anticipation for most of 2020 to put together a deal for 2021,” Bourdais, who is racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans in his French hometown this weekend, said in a release. “I’m really happy that I’m running the last three races of the year. It is great for us to get an early start on next year.”

During a Zoom news conference Tuesday, AJ Foyt Racing president Larry Foyt said the team would field two full-time cars next season and possibly three, but Bourdais is its only confirmed driver so far.

Foyt said the team is talking to drivers Dalton Kellett and Charlie Kimball about next year and also didn’t rule out the possibility of anothe race with Tony Kanaan (who has said he wants to run the 2021 Indy 500).

Bourdais has 37 victories across the Champ Car and IndyCar Series, most recently winning the 2018 season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, with Dale Coyne Racing.

Here’s the release from A.J. Foyt Racing:

INDIANAPOLIS—Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais has been hired as the sole driver of A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 Indy car in 2021. This year the French native was scheduled to share the driving duties with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who is winding down his career, and rookie Dalton Kellett, a graduate of the Road to Indy ladder series.

Bourdais went from being a part-time driver of Foyt’s No. 14 Chevrolet in 2020 to a full-time driver in 2021 without ever turning a lap in competition in the NTT INDYCAR Series this year. That is about to change.

Originally scheduled to drive for Foyt in the first three races of 2020, Bourdais will now drive in the final three races of the season, beginning with the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oct. 2-3.

Currently in LeMans, France prepping for the upcoming 24 Hours of LeMans this weekend, Bourdais said, “This is exciting news for all of us. We waited with anticipation for most of 2020 to put together a deal for 2021. I’m really happy that I’m running the last three races of the year — it is great for us to get an early start on next year. 2020 has been a very strange year so far and I can’t wait to finally get behind the wheel of the AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet No. 14.”

Bourdais was scheduled to kick off the 2020 season in March in the No. 14 in St. Petersburg, Fla.  where he lives with his wife Claire and their two children. However, the Covid-19 pandemic pushed that event to October 25, and now becomes the NTT INDYCAR Series’ season finale.

AJ Foyt Racing President Larry Foyt is elated with the signing of Bourdais for next year.

“I’m happy to have this deal done and welcome Sebastien to AJ Foyt Racing,” Foyt said. “The short time we have been able to work together showed a great deal of promise, and it was a shame that his races with us were derailed by the pandemic. I’m glad we were able to add some of these races back on the schedule, as it will undoubtedly help us kickstart his full-time campaign for 2021. His resume speaks for itself, and there is no denying he is a great addition to our program.”

Bourdais tested the No. 14 car with the aeroscreen at the INDYCAR Open Test at the Circuit of the Americas and at a private test at Sebring International Raceway in February.

Asked if the car felt much different with the addition of the aeroscreen, Bourdais replied, “Not very much. This year’s car felt heavier, more inertia and the tires felt different but the setups were very different as well from what I was used to (Bourdais drove Honda-powered cars for Dale Coyne Racing from 2017-19). It’s a whole new learning process. I think there were many differences from the last three or four seasons I had that I think you go into the relationship with a clean slate, no preconceived ideas, try to fit in and bring your experience to the table, but also trying to learn as much as you can from what’s there.”Bourdais was able to test the No. 14 at the COTA open test.

Dalton Kellett was originally scheduled to compete in the Harvest Grand Prix driving the No. 14 but he will now move to the No. 41 K-Line Insulators Chevrolet, the number under which he made his debut in this year’s Indianapolis 500. The team will also field the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet for Charlie Kimball who is driving full-time for Foyt this season.

Team owner A.J. Foyt plans to attend the doubleheader in Indy. He is happy about Bourdais joining the team in a full-time capacity and said, “I think he’ll be an asset to the team by far. We tested with him earlier this year and he knew exactly what he wanted and today I think that’s very important in a racecar driver. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”