A deal isn't yet done, but Sebastien Bourdais moved a step forward to returning to North American open-wheel racing this season when he tested Dale Coyne's Dallara-Honda again at Sebring International Raceway, in company with six other teams looking to get a head start on road course testing ahead of next week's official open test at Barber Motorsports Park.
Bourdais [ABOVE, with team owner Dale Coyne] first tested for the team last month alongside Indy Lights veteran Martin Plowman. The Briton has also been tipped to race for Coyne this year, but the Frenchman was the team's sole driver at Sebring this time around. Although the car's plain white paint underscored that no sponsorship deal was in place, Bourdais told Sports Illustrated he remained hopeful that he will soon conclude a race deal with the team for this year's road and street course races.
"There's a couple little things to work out," Coyne told SI.com. "Everything should come together here. It's a fluid beginning of the season for a lot of people. We're happy with him [Coyne] and I think he's happy with us, so we'll see what we can work out."
He added, though that he was only interested if all the proper elements can be put in place – and that this doesn't just mean a decent salary for himself.
"If he's going to pay me to come and race for him, and there's not the right people around, he might as well just save the money because I'm no super hero," said Bourdais. "I'm a good guy if I'm surrounded by quality people and a good team. There is no magic in this. You need the right things to get it right, and you're going to go up against four Ganassis and three Penskes and four Andrettis. So yeah, you can't say, 'It's going to be all right.' It doesn't work like that."
The Frenchman competed for two years in Formula 1 following his Champ Car stint with Newman/Haas Racing, in which he scored 31 race victories as well as four consecutive titles, and has raced since with Peugeot at Le Mans and will continue with that marque this year for the 24 Hours as well as other International Le Mans Cup races – but not the first round, next week's 12 Hours of Sebring, freeing him up to continue IndyCar preparations with Coyne. His best lap was around 0.7sec off the unofficial fastest laps on Tuesday, set by Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway and Alex Tagliani in the former FAZZT entry, now fielded by Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
Rain curtailed further testing on Thursday.
Sebring test times (all unofficial)
1. Mike Conway (Andretti Autosport) 52.76sec
2. Alex Tagliani (Sam Schmidt) 53.01
3. Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold) 53.1
4. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) 53.23
5. Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne) 53.7
6. Charlie Kimball (Ganassi) 53.92
7. Danica Patrick (Andretti Autosport) 54.17
8. Ana Beatriz (Dreyer & Reinbold) 54.25
9. Simona de Silvestro (HVM) 54.27
10. Sebastian Saavedra (Conquest) 54.62
1. Alex Tagliani (Sam Schmidt) 52.76
2. Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold) 52.94
3. Mike Conway (Andretti Autosport) 53.2
4. Simona de Silvestro (HVM) 53.25
5. Sebastian Saavedra (Conquest) 53.27
6. Danica Patrick (Andretti Autosport) 53.38
7. Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne) 53.42
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) 53.51
9. Charlie Kimball (Ganassi) 53.58
10. Ana Beatriz (Dreyer & Reinbold) 53.74