One of the best road racers in IndyCar and American open wheel racing history has signed a two-year contract with KV Racing starting next season (source: AP). Sebastien Bourdais, who won four championships driving in the ChampCar series, will be replacing IndyCar great Tony Kanaan who is moving on to Ganassi Racing in 2014.
The 34 year old Bourdais has been driving for Jay Penske of Dragon Racing the past couple years, running all the events this season, which is the first full-time IndyCar ride for Sebastien, since his championship days in ChampCar driving for Newman Haas. Bourdais won four straight titles in ChampCar from 2004-07 (pictured) and compiled 31 race wins over a five-year period before moving on to Formula One (F1) in 2008. Bourdais is currently 12th in the IndyCar point standings.
Driving for parts of three years, Bourdais had struggled to gain his once prominent place in open wheel racing. After leaving ChampCar for F1 over five years ago, Bourdais’ career has been less than stellar. He drove in F1 for Toro Rosso but had little success, including no podiums. After being let go by Toro Rosso during the middle of the 2009 F1 season, Bourdais was without an open wheel job.
He did compete in the sports car ranks while finally earning a part-time IndyCar gig in 2011 with Dale Coyne Racing. A lack of performance continued when he signed with Dragon Racing, sharing a ride with Katherine Legge before running full-time in 2013. He’s been able to garner three podium finishes so far this season, which are his first in open wheel since ’07.
The switch to KV Racing should help his on-track performance and the two-year contract should give him the confidence to manage his way back into the upper echelon of IndyCar. One of KV Racing’s co-owners, Kevin Kalkhoven, certainly feels Bourdais can regain his spot at the top of American open wheel when he said,
“Sebastien is a proven champion and we look forward to working with him to produce more championships.”
The loss of Bourdais may have a lasting effect on Dragon Racing, who isn’t even sure if they will compete in all the IndyCar events next year. Conversely, replacing Kanaan so quickly with Bourdais appears to be a great move by KV Racing. Sebastien has been more competitive of late, producing seven Top 10s over the last eight races.