Dale Coyne Racing has unexpectedly announced that they will not retain the services of Sebastien Bourdais for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series. Bourdais had been set to race full-time in the series next year, as per his contract. However, Bourdais will now race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship full-time for JDC-Miller Motorsports in the DPi Class alongside Joao Barbosa.
Bourdais had been contracted for the next NTT IndyCar Series season with Dale Coyne Racing, but it is understood that circumstances changed financially for the team, specifically relating to the finances that allowed Bourdais to race for them, thus meaning that the team had to let him go.
Team Owner, Dale Coyne, commented yesterday that it had not been an easy decision to make, but that he had “no choice” but to drop Sebastien.
“I want to thank Sebastien for having the confidence to come back from his Formula 1 tour and join our team in 2011, and again for his commitment to the team during the past three years,” said Coyne. “It is not a decision we take lightly, but due to the ever-changing landscape of Indy car racing, we have no choice but to make a change for 2020. We wish Sebastien all the best with his future racing endeavors.”
As Coyne alluded to, four-time Champ Car champion Bourdais made his return to the IndyCar Series in 2011 after his ill-fated Formula 1 ventures. He made his return with Dale Coyne Racing before moving to Dragon Racing for 2012 and 2013 and then KV Racing from 2014 to 2016.
In 2017, Bourdais once again returned to Dale Coyne Racing, only to miss eight races of the season after a horrific crash in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Nevertheless, Bourdais returned to the cockpit later that year and would remain with the team for 2018 and 2019; with his former partners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan joining the team also.
Bourdais’ recent seasons with Dale Coyne Racing have been largely unspectacular. Back-to-back victories at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in 2017 and 2018 would be the only occasions that he stood on the top step of the podium, with only a handful of other appearances on the rostrum as a whole. Sebastien was also closely matched last season by his rookie team-mate, Santino Ferrucci, who usually looked to be much faster in the oval races.
Nevertheless, Sebastien’s seat at DCR was not thought to be at risk for 2020. Yesterday’s news, however, changed everything. In a short statement yesterday, Bourdais gave his thanks to Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan for putting him in a position be racing for the last few years in the NTT IndyCar Series.
“I want to thank Dale, Jimmy and Sulli for giving me this opportunity to continue racing in the NTT IndyCar Series over the past few years,” said Bourdais, “I look forward to pursuing new opportunities in racing in the years ahead.”
It wouldn’t take long for Bourdais to announce what his “new opportunities in racing” would be. Mere minutes after the announcement of his departure from Dale Coyne Racing, it would be confirmed that he would be moving full-time to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to partner Joao Barbosa in JDC-Miller Motorsport’s Cadillac DPi-V.R.
“Following two very difficult weeks filled with uncertainty regarding my future, I am thrilled to get the opportunity to race a prototype again, be reunited with Joao and drive for JDC-Miller MotorSports and Mustang Sampling Racing,” Bourdais said yesterday. “2020 can’t come soon enough and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of our Cadillac DPi-V.R.”
Despite confirming his full-time move to IMSA, Bourdais was keen to point out that he was not finished with the NTT IndyCar Series. He took to Twitter to write: “To clarify things, none of this means my retirement from IndyCar. See you guys at the tracks!”
Dale Coyne Racing has yet to confirm their line-up for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series. It is expected that Santino Ferrucci will be retained for a second season, but the identity of his potential team-mate remains unknown.
The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15. The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will begin, as usual, with the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, January 25.