Photo: Justin R. Noe, ASP

Bourdais Fights Better Than Results Indicate At Long Beach

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH, California — Sebastien Bourdais had the most entertaining move of Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He also had some of the worst luck in the Verizon IndyCar Series field after penalties, an ill-timed caution and contact ruined his day.

Bourdais started ninth but climbed his way to second before making his first pit stop on Lap 30. After his tires heated up, Bourdais raced his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda to third place before making a pass that looked like something straight out of Gran Turismo.

Scott Dixon was lapping Spencer Pigot when Bourdais got a run on Dixon. Bourdais went to the right to go around Dixon and Pigot when Dixon moved over slightly toward Bourdais. Bourdais then used part of the pit exit lane to complete the move and then crossed over to lap Matheus Leist at the apex of Turn 1.

“I got Dixon on the restart and Race Control deemed that a violation,” said Bourdais. “I thought that was interesting because I am not quite sure what I was supposed to do. I was committed. There was room and he didn’t see me, so he came down on me and pushed me into the pit lane. If you get forced into the pit lane, I am not sure it is your responsibility.”

Bourdais was ordered to give the position back to Dixon but would get around Dixon again the next lap. Bourdais would then lead four laps but bad luck wasn’t done toying with the three-time Long Beach winner.

Teammate Zachary Claman De Melo hit the wall coming out of Turn 9 on Lap 60 and the caution came out. Unfortunately for Bourdais, he did not reach pit road before the yellow was thrown and had to pass through the pits without taking service to avoid the penalty Dixon would have to serve for taking service.

Bourdais pitted when the pits were opened and fell back to 11th. That’s when the race went from bad to worse after contact from Charlie Kimball broke part of the suspension while racing side-by-side.

“I was racing (Charlie) Kimball side-by-side and he gives me no room,” said Bourdais. “He bent both of my toe links on the right side. It was pretty much game over from there. I made a mistake because of it trying to pass him again later into Turn 9. The car wouldn’t turn anymore.”

Jordan King soon after made an overtaking attempt while being a lap down and instead of getting past Bourdais, the move sent the Frenchman spinning.

Bourdais then had a late battle with Leist the further frustrated him en route to a 13th place finish.

“I had to deal with another idiot, Matheus Leist,” said Bourdais. “He tried to crash both of us a couple of times. There really wasn’t much to salvage after that. It’s really disappointing.

“The car was good. I drove the wheels off it. Passed a bunch of guys and we have nothing to show for it.”

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.