Brake Glow

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Tag Archives: Bourdais

Road America Returning to 2014 IndyCar Schedule?

As reported yesterday on Twitter, George Bruggenthies is expected to attend the Long Beach round of the IndyCar series in April.

George Bruggenthies, the President of the 4.048-mile Road America circuit, has long been in talks with the IndyCar series to return to the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track. The two have been unable to come to an agreement since IndyCar merged with Champ Car in early 2008.

Sources suggested Bruggenthies plans to meet with IndyCar officials at the legendary street-circuit layout in Long Beach but would not speak publicly as the information is not yet public.

Road America and IndyCar last hosted talks with then-CEO of IndyCar, Randy Bernard, looking to replace the Chinese round of the calendar that fell through. Talks posed a combined weekend of the American LeMans Series and IndyCar in August of 2012. Ultimately, Bernard decided to do away with the round altogether and, instead, extend the distance of the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, CA, to 500 miles.

With the recently finalized plans to merge the American LeMans Series and the Grand-Am Championship to form United Sports Car Racing in 2014, one can only ponder the massive opportunity Road America may have to host a United Sports Car round alongside of IndyCar next year.

Road America last hosted a major open-wheel race in 2007, the final year of the now-defunct Champ Car series. 4-Time Champ Car champion, and current Dragon Racing driver, Sebastien Bourdais won the race on his way to his final championship in the series.

Check back for more updates as they become available.

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Five Guys to Watch in 2013 That You Probably Aren’t

Just weeks away from the season-opening event in St. Petersburg, FL, we examine a few prospects for the upcoming season. Aside from the usual suspects in the hunt for the championship, here are a few dark horses who may take the IndyCar title in 2013.

1. Sebastien Bourdais 

In his second year with Dragon Racing, Sebastien Bourdais is due for a return to his winning ways. The Frenchman won the final four titles of the now defunct Champ Car series in dominant fashion and showed all the potential in 2012 that he displayed from 2004-2007. Battling engine gremlins with the underdog Lotus power-plant, Bourdais was largely hindered from showing the Jay Penske owned team’s potential. With a committed effort for 2013 and Chevy power, Bourdais banks on his best bet to compete for wins and podiums since his Champ Car days.

2. James Hinchcliffe

Hinch enters his third year in the IndyCar series coming off a solid sophomore year performance with Andretti Autosport. The young Canadian moved into the prime GoDaddy seat vacated by Danica Patrick at the end of 2011. Following a year of steady results highlighted by a few podiums and, at one point, running as high as second in the standings, The Mayor looks as a prime candidate to grace the top step of the podium this season. With Andretti Autosport’s knack for colluding (and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s championship-winning experiences from last year,) there’s plenty of potential for Hinch to threaten the veterans in 2013.

3. Josef Newgarden 

A rookie in 2012, Newgarden showed flashes of brilliance at times. Driving for the underdogs Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Newgarden moved mountains on a shoestring budget. The American put his DW12 on the front row at Long Beach, just his third race. His aggression got the better of him, however, as he put it in the wall trying to overtake past champion, Dario Franchitti, in the opening laps of the race. Reliability issues and rookie mistakes hampered the 22 year-old as his best finish was only 12th at Mid-Ohio. Heading into 2013, Newgarden has gained invaluable experience and could easily see the front of the pack this season.

4. Oriol Servia

Servia, the always underrated Spaniard, signed on with Dreyer Reinbold Racing for 2012 after the untimely and unfortunate demise of Newman/Haas Racing. Making the most of Lotus power, Servia placed 11th in the Sao Paulo round, one of the highest placings for any of the Lotus powered cars. After Sao Paulo, DRR dumped Lotus and signed on to a joint effort with Panther Racing. With the partnership, Oriol welcomed the shift to Chevy power. In his first race with the new engine maker, Servia placed fourth at Indy. Servia added a few more fourths to the season tally. Although never on the podium in 2012, Servia remained consistently in the top-10 for much of the second half of the season. In 2013, Servia looks to build on the moderate successes of the previous year and could be a serious threat in the points when the circus arrives at Fontana.

5. Simon Pagenaud

In his full-time return to American open-wheel racing since Champ Car’s demise, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud put in some amazing drives for the one-car effort of  Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports. Few picked Pagenaud to immediately join the front runners when he emerged as the Honda-powered team’s driver at the opening of last year, but they should have. In his first start, Pagenaud finished sixth. Pagenaud frequented the top-10 in 2012, finishing as high as second at Long Beach. Despite his consistent finishes on road and street courses, Pagenaud seemed to find difficulty in figuring out the oval side of the IndyCar schedule. He managed to muster out a top-5 at Iowa as his best finish on an oval in 2012. After a year to gain confidence on the ovals, however, Pagenaud’s building chemistry with his team could prove a formidable threat to the usual front-runners in the championship.

Barrichello to IndyCar?

Recent WilliamsF1 refugee, Rubens Barrichello, will get his first sampling of an IndyCar later this month.

Speed.com unveiled the news that Brazilian Barrichello is set to test one of KV Racing Technology’s IndyCars next week in Sebring, Florida. The test will collude with one already scheduled for KV driver, and fellow Brazilian, Tony Kanaan.

Barrichello’s intentions remain unclear, however, after publicly promising his wife he would avoid racing on American ovals. If Barrichello made a full-time IndyCar debut, he would not be the first in doing so at the age of 40. Nigel Mansell made the transition from F-1 to CART in 1993 at the same age.

Another option potentially available to the 300-some Grands Prix veteran models that of Sebastien Bourdais’s return to American open-wheel last year. In 2011, Bourdais ran a strict road courses-only schedule for Dale Coyne Racing.

More will be added as it becomes available.

Peugeot Axes Sports Car Program; Bourdais Full-Time in IndyCar

In a surprise announcement, the French automaker Peugeot pulled the plug on their factory effort for the 2012 World Endurance Championship.

The iconic Lions will be absent on the 2012 24 of LeMans grid and all other events held by the World Endurance Championship. In their official announcement the marque said “Peugeot prefers to concentrate its 2012 resources on its commercial performance” as a result of a “challenging economic environment in Europe.” The car maker also cited the launch of several new vehicles this year as another factor in their decision.

Interestingly, Peugeot factory driver Sebastien Bourdais announced a surprise move to a full-time IndyCar ride with Jay Penske’s Lotus-powered Dragon Racing team. Bourdais had a part-time effort with Dale Coyne Racing in 2011 while competing in all of Peugeot’s International LeMans events.

Bourdais will partner with former DTM and fellow Champ Car driver, Katherine Legge. Legge plans to drive a TrueCar sponsored entry. Bourdais’s sponsorship is still pending.

Sebastien Bourdais last drove full-time in America in '07 with Newman/Haas Racing in the championship-winning McDonald's car.

 

 The switch to full-time in 2012 will mark the Frenchman’s return to full-time American open-wheel racing since 2007 when Bourdais won his fourth and final Champ Car championship driving for the now defunct Newman/Haas Racing team.