Dale Coyne Racing‘s Sebastien Bourdais has said that he “couldn’t be any happier” after claiming an emotional victory in last weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series season-opening race, the 2018 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Bourdais thanked his team for giving him the tools he needed to win the race last Sunday, whilst also reflecting on his road to recovery from injury last year to get back to victory lane.
Bourdais had started off the race in strife when he suffered an early puncture. His #18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda was forced onto an alternate strategy for the remainder of the race, however, that ultimately put him in third place for the now infamous final race restart after a late full course caution.
Sebastien had found himself trying to fend off Graham Rahal on the restart with two laps to go, but when the two leaders, Robert Wickens and Alexander Rossi, came together at turn one, Bourdais was able to slip through and into the lead. With Wickens stuck in the wall at turn one, another caution soon followed, with this one ending the race prematurely.
Bourdais was left to cruise around to take his second successive win at St. Petersburg. In post-race interviews, Bourdais thanked his team at DCR for their hard work, as he and the team continue to beat the larger teams with much bigger budgets:
“I couldn’t be any happier for Dale Coyne Racing and everybody on board, all the boys,” said Bourdais.
“They worked so hard. It’s a tiny group but they work their tails off. We didn’t have the fastest car today but we had consistency and we pulled it together. We were going to get a podium today, which was awesome.
Bourdais also went on to sympathize with the former race leader, Wickens, who came just a matter of miles away from securing a shock victory in his first race in the series. However, he remained thankful that the unfortunate circumstances led to him taking the chequered flag:
“I was really happy for Robert and kind of heartbroken for him, but for us, it is just such an upset. I can’t quite put it into words.”
Sebastien was visibly emotional when interviewed from inside the cockpit of his #18 car post-race. He would explain that this was largely due to how he’d come back from his injuries sustained in last year’s Indianapolis 500 qualifying to win again.
Bourdais was on a hot lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last may when his car broke loose mid-way through turn two. He corrected his car but was then sent head first into the outside wall, with the resulting forces flipping the car over. Sebastien suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fractured right hip, which wrote him out of competition for much of the rest of the season.
He returned for the final three races of the season, but in the meantime, many had speculated that Sebastien may not come back to the series. However, Bourdais said after his win on Sunday that the thought of quitting never entered his mind:
“This is emotional because I was able from a few broken bones to come back in this victory circle,” Sebastien said.
“When I got the verdict of what was broken and I was going to heal pretty well, it was never a question on whether I should continue or stop. Guess I’m glad I did continue.”
The next round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series takes place on Saturday, April 7th at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.