Sebastien Bourdais targets Watkins Glen return after horror accident at the Indy 500

With Sebastien Bourdais targeting an IndyCar comeback at Watkins Glen, Hayley Stanway looks at the Frenchman's ambitions after his horror crash at Indianapolis.

Sebastien Bourdais of France, driver of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda greets fans as he is introduced to the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway on April 29, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona.

Sebastien Bourdais has brought his planned return to IndyCar forward to September 3rd for the penultimate race of the season at Watkins Glen.

Sebastien Bourdais targets Watkins Glen return after horror accident at the Indy 500

The 38 year old Frenchman has been side-lined since the qualifying session for the Indy 500 in May, following a horrific crash in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing car. He was setting the timing screens alight, almost sure to take P1 and progress to the Fast 9 with an average speed of 231mph when he lost control of the car going in to turn 2 of the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He attempted to correct a handful of oversteer but overdid it, sending him into the wall at 227mph and into a barrel roll with the car briefly catching fire, before skidding to a halt half way down the straight. Despite the severity of the crash which silenced the commentators and the crowds, the immediate signs were good as he could be seen adjusting his helmet when the car came to rest.

It took over ten minutes for medics and rescuers to free him from the car, during which time he is said to have been awake and alert and he was taken straight to the Indiana University Methodist Hospital. News broke the following day that he has suffered multiple pelvis fractures which required the insertion of plates, as well as fractures to his right femur and ribs.

To everyone’s astonishment, he walked from hospital, with the aid of crutches, just four days later. This has been a recurring theme throughout his recovery so far – continued positivity and pushing himself to keep going. Just seven days after his accident, he was back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, giving a press conference and vowing to make it back into the car for the season finale at Sonoma on September 17th.

Today though, he has said that he feels if he pushes, he can return for Watkins Glen, two weeks ahead of his original target.

In an interview with IndyStar, Bourdais revealed: “I’m not trying to be hard-headed about it. I don’t want to make bad decisions or keep from improving my chances in the future, but if I’m ready, then I’ll get back into the car.”

His care team have attempted to convince him to push his return to next season, but Bourdais is determined that to have the best chance of having a strong 2018 and fighting for the championship, he must get more time in the car this season.

“I don’t want to enter ‘18 with questions. I want to go in ‘18 with everyone feeling comfortable and everybody around me knowing that we will pick up where we left off.”

In the mean time, former Formula 1 and Formula E driver Esteban Gutierrez is occupying the #18 car and has been benefiting from some pointers from Bourdais, who has driven in the series for seven years.

Keen to be back in the racing environment, Bourdais is hoping to be able to deliver his advice in person, rather than by email and is targeting Toronto on July 16th as the first race where he will be on site to keep his rookie teammates right.

Whether he manages his ambitious return date remains to be seen. He is a long way off, admitting that it is likely to be another couple of weeks before he is able to walk unsupported. Regardless, Dale Coyne Racing have assured him that whenever he is ready to return to the sport, the car will be free for him.
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