Sebastien Bourdais Indy 500 crash costs Coyne 'first realistic shot'

Dale Coyne Racing has lost its first realistic shot at an Indianapolis 500 victory with Sebastien Bourdais' injury, says team owner Coyne

Sebastien Bourdais Indy 500 crash costs Coyne 'first realistic shot'

Bourdais survived a 227mph, 118G oblique-angled collision with the SAFER barrier at Turn 2 during the first day of Indy 500 qualifying last Saturday.

Multiple fractures in his pelvis and his fractured hip were operated on that night, and on Monday he was standing again with the aid of crutches.

Bourdais led the championship after winning the St Petersburg season-opener and then finishing second in Long Beach.

Involvement in a first-lap pile-up at Phoenix and an early engine failure on the Indy road course race were then followed by the qualifying crash, which came as Bourdais was setting the fastest laps of the session up to that point.

"Everyone's sad because we all know how good this year could have been," Coyne told Autosport, suggesting that "a front row or even a good shot at the pole" were on the cards.

Dixon: Bourdais would have beat me to pole

"That would have put us in a good spot for maybe winning the 500," he added.

"So this is a big setback. We had our first realistic shot at the win.

"But you put it in the perspective of how things would have ended as recently as 20 years ago; a crash like that and we'd have been burying him.

"The SAFER barrier did a good job, the tub did a good job. So we just have to be grateful."

Coyne has had to dissuade Bourdais from trying to come back to racing before the end of the 2017 season.

"I went to see him [on Monday]. He's up and moving about, but he's in more pain than he was before because the good stuff is wearing off now!" Coyne joked.

"One of his back ribs - right-side, third from the top - really hurts.

"First day after the crash he was saying he wanted to be back for Sonoma [the season finale].

"I said, 'No, skip Sonoma, then you've got an extra four months to heal, and come back in January and we'll do it right'.

"Then today he was figuring if there was any way possible to do Le Mans for Chip [Ganassi, who runs the Ford GT team]. That's next month! Claire [his wife] said no to that one."

James Davison is standing in for Bourdais in the Indy 500, but Coyne said choosing a full-time replacement is proving difficult.

"Do we take a rookie, or do we take an experienced guy?" he said. "Problem is there are no experienced guys out there.

"Bruno [Junqueira] has been away too long, maybe even [Ryan] Briscoe has been away too long.

"Find me another Bourdais, and I'd do the deal. But there isn't another one out there."

Autosport has learned from a separate source that Matt Brabham is one of the favourites for the seat, and comes with Bourdais' endorsement after they were team-mates for Brabham's two outings with KV Racing Technology in 2016.

Former Coyne driver RC Enerson, who impressed the team in three races last year, is also in contention.

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