IndyCar
R
Birmingham
16 Apr
Next event in
4 days
23 Apr
Next event in
11 days
R
Texas
30 Apr
Next event in
18 days
R
Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race 1
14 May
Next event in
32 days
28 May
Next event in
46 days
R
Detroit
11 Jun
Next event in
60 days
R
Road America
18 Jun
Next event in
67 days
R
Mid-Ohio
02 Jul
Next event in
81 days
R
Toronto
09 Jul
Next event in
88 days
06 Aug
Next event in
116 days
R
Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race 2
13 Aug
Next event in
123 days
R
Gateway
20 Aug
Next event in
130 days
R
Portland
10 Sep
Next event in
151 days
R
Laguna Seca
17 Sep
Next event in
158 days
R
Long Beach
24 Sep
Next event in
165 days

Bourdais, Foyt targeting best title campaign for 19 years

Sebastien Bourdais and AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet are aiming to finish in the Top 10 in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series, the team’s best championship result since 2002.

Bourdais, Foyt targeting best title campaign for 19 years

Airton Daré was the last Foyt driver to break into the top 10 in the end of year points standings, on the back of a win at Kansas and a third at Texas, resulting in ninth in the 2002 Indy Racing League – at that time an all-oval series.

Since then, the squad owned by Indy car icon A.J. Foyt – seven-time champion and four-time Indy 500 winner – have landed podiums with Darren Manning, Vitor Meira, Mike Conway, Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan, and Sato scored another victory for the squad at Long Beach in 2013. But the season-long consistency required to finish in the Top 10 has evaded them.

However, the hiring of four-time Champ Car title winner and 37-time race winner Bourdais has lit the team’s ambition, and the speed shown in testing has left all involved, including team president Larry Foyt, cautiously optimistic.

Said Bourdais: “I think Larry was really kind of hoping for a top 10 in the championship, which when you look at the entry list, is no easy task. Hopefully we can do that and show some glimpse of success.

“If we could win a race, it would be awesome. If we could get a couple of podiums. But there's no guarantee. All we can do is just give it our best shot and see where we land.”

Bourdais started the last three races of 2020 with Foyt and captured fourth place at St. Petersburg, right behind champion Scott Dixon. Asked if that result, combined with great pace in testing, had recalibrated the team’s aims for this season, Bourdais replied: “I don't know. I mean, the guys have given me some good cars.

“Obviously it started a bit rough at the [Harvest Grand Prix]. [But] I think there's a real good group of guys which got reinforced by the arrival of Justin Taylor [new race engineer for Bourdais’ #14 entry]. Yeah, there's the manpower, there is enough money to do things right, and passion to work…

“I think we're setting up the best we can. There's no particular expectations. We’re just working as hard as we can, trying to cover as much ground and bases as possible and hoping for the best…

“Obviously we finished the season strong. We went testing and felt like the car was in the ballpark. We seem to be in the mix. The more outings we get like that, the more confidence in what we’ve got going on and where we fit is giving us confidence that we should be players.”

Bourdais also echoed what team director Mike Colliver noted recently, regarding the positivity within the squad.

“I think there is a very good atmosphere, everybody is enjoying that perspective,” said the 42-year-old who captured 31 wins with the legendary Newman/Haas Racing but has since made a name as someone who can help smaller teams punch above their weight. “The fact that there is seemingly something to go to the track and fight for – it doesn't take much to get a positive dynamic.

“It doesn't take much to break it down either! [So] hopefully we can just keep that dynamic and get the results to back it up, because obviously it doesn't matter how promising the thing is. If you get to the races and you don't perform, the enthusiasm inevitably goes down. I'm just happy to see everybody kind of, like, pulling together, putting in a lot of hours.

“The guys were at the shaker-rig yesterday, they're at the shaker again today. We're going to the simulator. There's really a lot of ground covered. That's refreshing both because we have enough people to do it, we have enough resources to go and get after it, thanks to Chevy trusting us to go to the simulator and stuff like that.

Honestly, everywhere I've been before ever since I've come back to the U.S. [from Formula 1] in 2011, there was something missing. It seemed like it was always a bit of a struggle. There were some really good guys with [race engineers] Craig [Hampson] and Olivier [Boisson], but there wasn't enough of them; we were short on money, something was happening. It just feels like the team is right enough now to be able to have something well-rounded… Hopefully it works out.”

Bourdais said he had also gained personal satisfaction from being able to return to the sport after suddenly losing his Honda funding for a full-time ride at Dale Coyne Racing in the 2019/’20 offseason. With no fulltime IndyCar rides left, the Frenchman signed a part-time deal with Foyt, combined with a fulltime IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship ride with JDC-Miller Motorsports.

Bourdais excelled in IMSA, scoring seven top-five finishes including three podiums for one of the smaller Prototype teams in the series, and helped deliver fifth in the championship. JDC-Miller leapt at the chance to re-hire him as its ‘third man’ for 2021, joining compatriots Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval for the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds, none of which clash with the IndyCar schedule.

Obviously you don't know that you're going to get a second chance when you get the boot!” said Bourdais. “It's really good that things worked out and we can try to just bring the name A.J. Foyt Racing back to the front. That's what we all are working towards.

“On a personal level, for sure it's a big satisfaction. To be entrusted to be the guy who is going to kind of spearhead the effort. Yeah, just really thankful and grateful to Larry and everybody involved for trusting me with that project.”

Bourdais said that despite AJ Foyt’s huge desire to capture another Indianapolis 500, the team is aiming to make great strides at all tracks on the 17-round NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

“It's obviously the 500, then there's just everything else between the road courses and the street courses,” he said, “trying to get a good understanding of how the car functions and how you activate the best way possible the Firestone tires and all of that.

“The one race that so far I've spent no time thinking about is the 500. You know in the background are those projects that the team obviously is pursuing to try and get friction out of the system, get the best aero and everything. But the 500 kind of jumps in the front of the scene in kinda late April. It's going to kind of arrive when we show up there.

“But we did spend a ton of time and effort trying to bring the speed up at more street and road courses. That's what we've been focusing on now.”

shares
comments

Related video

Rosenqvist on IndyCar: I haven't done anything as difficult

Previous article

Rosenqvist on IndyCar: I haven't done anything as difficult

Next article

Rossi positive on Andretti changes after 2020 “sucked”

Rossi positive on Andretti changes after 2020 “sucked”
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Drivers Sébastien Bourdais
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Author David Malsher-Lopez
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car? Prime

Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car?

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indy car game-changer that won three Indy 500s in six years.

IndyCar
Dec 23, 2020
How Newgarden delivered his best season, yet still lost Prime

How Newgarden delivered his best season, yet still lost

Josef Newgarden was our pick as top IndyCar driver of 2020 but his finest season-long run of performances failed to yield the championship. David Malsher-Lopez explains why.

IndyCar
Dec 18, 2020
2020 IndyCar Review and Top 10 drivers of the year Prime

2020 IndyCar Review and Top 10 drivers of the year

David Malsher-Lopez explains how the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series was unlike any other, and why it featured familiar and unfamiliar faces competing for glory.

IndyCar
Nov 27, 2020
How Dixon won his sixth IndyCar title, in his own words Prime

How Dixon won his sixth IndyCar title, in his own words

Chip Ganassi Racing’s newly crowned six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon takes us round by round through his remarkable season. David Malsher-Lopez listens.

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2020