INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Sebastien Bourdais will have surgery Saturday night to repair a fractured pelvis after a fiery crash in Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
Indiana University Methodist Hospital doctors told track officials that the 38-year-old Frenchman had multiple fractures in his pelvis and a fractured right hip.
He slammed head-on into the second turn wall after completed two laps at over 231 mph, the fastest laps of the day.
As the image of the hit — the car flipping over and flames and smoke billowing out — appeared on video boards around the track, drivers were stunned as safety team members spent about 10 minutes trying to get Bourdais out of the car.
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“You see big numbers during the week and people that are fast, the one that obviously stood out for me during the whole week was Bourdais,” Scott Dixon said. “Thinking of him, hoping he’s OK. It was definitely a big hit.”
Bourdais was transported by ambulance from the track to the hospital, and track officials said he never lost consciousness.
Other drivers were concerned, too.
Ed Carpenter, who grew up around the track, called it one of the hardest hits he’s ever seen in 500 qualifying. He said it took his breath away.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso also said he was hoping for a quick recovery.
“I know him from F1 time, and also yesterday we were talking in the casino, in the event, all together about the cars, about how he feels here, how fast he was on Friday,” Alonso said. “He was still very fast today.”
For the four-time Champ Car champion won the IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, after starting 21st.. Bourdais followed that with finishes of second at Long Beach, California, and eighth at Alabama before a crash at Phoenix dropped him to 19th.
Last weekend at the IndyCar Grand Prix, a bad engine forced him to drop out after only a few laps. And after another engine change Thursday night, Bourdais suddenly jumped to the top of the 500 speed chart Friday — giving him hope of winning the pole.
“It’s what this season has been for us so far,” Bourdais said Friday. “We’ve had really good days and really pretty terrible days. But the good thing is, you know, when we’re given the opportunity, we seem to make the best of it.”
With the final day of qualifying for the traditional 33-car starting grid set for Sunday and the race scheduled for May 28, Coyne likely will need a replacement driver soon.
Because only 33 cars are entered for the 500, any that do not qualify Sunday will start from of the field and will be arranged based on entrant’s points. The final two practices are scheduled for Sunday and Friday.
There are always willing drivers around the speedway in May, and one intriguing name could be Stefan Wilson, who got out of his Andretti Autosport car so Alonso could race.
But the only thing on Coyne’s mind Saturday night was Bourdais.
“Sebastien is in good hands here at IU Methodist Hospital with the staff and now we just wait for him to recover,” Coyne said in a statement.
Bourdais raced in Formula One in 2008-09. He’s sixth on IndyCar’s career victory list with 35.
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