• Mar 3rd 2008 at 7:25PM
  • 16

While everyone seems to be in agreement that the recently-concluded merger between the two erstwhile divorced series of American open-wheel racing is a step forward, Sebastien Bourdais thinks otherwise. Referring to the inherent disadvantage for Champ Car teams joining the IRL just 30 days before the start of the 2008 season, the four-time champ called the merger "the death of Champ Car".

Bourdais, who departed US oval-track racing for F1 this season, points to the enormous advantage which established IRL teams will have over the newcomer Champ Car teams as a sign of troubled times ahead for all migrating teams, even Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing with whom Bourdais took four back-to-back titles in Champ Cars. He may be right, if the unfortunate departure of Forsythe Racing is any indication. Sebastien's proposed solution would be for the new combined series to introduce entirely new cars for all the teams in order to level the playing field.

Meanwhile, in related news, the head of A1GP Team USA expressed hope that the series might take advantage of the IRL/Champ Car merger by picking up some of the venues which were dropped for the new combined calendar. Only three Champ Car races are being adopted into the new IRL schedule, while the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has not competed on American soil since racing at Laguna Seca in its innagural 2005 season.

[Source: Autosport, Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sebastien Bourdais is idiot if he thinks IRL should abandon their cars for new ones because the inclusion of ChampCar teams merely increases the field and alters the track styles. then he's neglecting the entire point of the merger. Its not a formation of new racing league, its merely growth for IRL.

      Next your the disadvantage will be less, just be patient.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Autoweek had a nice comparison of the DP01 and the IRL car and the DP01 was actually a bit cheaper and the cosworth Champ Car was using had more power! Hopefully they will adopt the DP01 for next season, as it was getting good reviews from the drivers.
      As for the merger, I hope they at least split the races 50/50 between ovals and road races and eventually make it a predominately road racing series. Bourdais can be whiny at times, but he's right about the merger and I hope he does very well at the next level. I'll be rooting for him this year. Even with limited time, I think a lot of ex-Champ Car teams will surprise the competition this year. I'll be cheering for Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal!
      • 7 Years Ago
      wait i thought Bourdais was going to F1 this year so whats he worried about?? it should be none of his concern if that rumor i heard was true. however on the merger itself: its ok. more cars= better racing. sometimes.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I really don't mean to sound cynical, but how many people really care anymore? Their refusal to settle this long ago has driven away most of the folks who used to think open wheel racing in America was of any significance. I find it more worth while --and much more entertaining--to follow sports car racing in all its incarnations.

      Man, that sounds pissy when I read it back. I'll just say Champ and IRL--get over it and give us some racing worth tuning in for.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree with him, this "merger" is the death of Champ Car; it's just a way for the remaining team owners to try to get in to IRL with some honnor. The deal seems to be entirely on TG's terms, with his cars, his venues, and his ideas of what US open-wheel racing should be about.
        • 7 Years Ago
        ahhh yes.. nothing is as much fun as watching cars go left...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Surely he described the merger as "orrible", being an h-dropping frenchy and all that.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sebastien could not be more wrong. The Champ car series was dead for true CART fans along time ago when the big names (Ganassi and Penske) of Champ car started to migrate towards the IRL. As a fan the series started alienating me the viewer by going to Speed Vision and not allowing the fan to watch the race on public TV. By not allowing for the public to watch the race on public TV was their major downfall. Nobody I know wanted to pay more to watch a race when you can watch Nascar and IRL for free so WTF were they thinking? I have been watching this for a long time and it was only a matter of time before the money dried up. As for Sebastien I am sure he will deliver the same performance that all before him did…nothing. Juan and Jac were the only recent drivers I’ve seen do anything significant. He just wants to make sure he can come crawling back when he needs a ride. Well sorry that ship has sailed and it’s time to be spanked by the F1 boys. As we watch this merger stumble for the next year I hope they can make something out of it for the fans since we are the ones putting our money down to watch these events. One thing the IRL needs to add is the access to the drivers for the fans. This is why Nascar is successful, the the drivers are accessible to the public and they have awesome TV coverage especially at the end of the race with interviews with the drivers afterward. Fans want to see this not just the end of the race and boom here is the next TV show. That’s what Champ car did and we see the results.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You mean Jacques who won the F1 driver's championship?

        Hey, he may think too highly of himself, but he does have something on his resume few can brag of.
        • 7 Years Ago


        Champ Car was only on Speed for a while. Before that it was on Spike and even had it's own little Champ Car show. Speed basically helped Champ Car out when they couldn't get any network TV coverage. But I doubt it would have helped anyway seeing as how even the IRL was failing to retain any viewers with network slots.

        This "unification", I fear, will be the death of good upper echelon open wheel racing in the states. Hopefully they prove me wrong and ad more street and road races to the series and retain some of the festival atmosphere that I loved at Champ Car events. I'd be interested in seeing how the crap wagons make it around a bumpy street course like San Jose, ha! At least I still have ALMS! :)
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think he's right. The Champ car teams will have a heck of a time competing in IRL this year, and so might not even be around next year.

      It's too bad, Champ Car made a lot of good moves lately. But still, this will benefit the long-term health of open wheel racing in the US, so they will just have to weather the storm.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have to agree with Sebastien. I heard of the merger on the radio, got the warm fuzzies, then got home and read that the series will be run with the old low-tech IRL cars. I then realized that the Champ Car series simply had died.

      This is personal opinion of course, but two things that turn me off of the IRL- oval racing and the ugly low-tech cars. The Champ Car series had problems in spades, but at least they got away from dangerous ovals and developed the new Panoz DP01 car that American open wheel fans needn't feel embarrassed about around their F1 friends. The DP01 had paddle shifters, F1-style diffuser and rear wing, and was cheap for the teams - if anything in racing can be called cheap. Maybe the IRL will swallow some pride the series will look at the DP01 race car for the 2009 season. I won't get my hopes up. Tony George isn't known for swallowing his pride, though he has capitulated on allowing non-oval races on the schedule - oh my! Oval racing open wheel cars is simply too dangerous. Eddie Irvine was correct when he referred to the crashes on oval tracks resembling aircraft accidents.

      NASCAR has the low-tech oval racing angle covered. The sooner the IRL realize that, the better.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't like paddle shifters, they take away one of the things a driver needs to manage. I see it as only one of the things that makes it difficult to pass in F1. No driver ever misses a shift or even loses concentration while shifting.

        F1's current rear basket takes a ton of cues from IRL's basket in the first place, both being designed to increase the ability to pass using drafting. So I don't see how you can say IRL's spoiler setup is embarassing and could take one from F1.
          • 7 Years Ago
          You missed the emphasis of my post - rear diffuser styles aren't the issue here. Open wheel cars on high speed ovals are simply too dangerous. Taking one hand off the wheel to shift only adds to the danger. That the cars are low-tech and the IRL drivers of limited talent only only detracts further from my enjoyment of the series.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My only disappointment with the news was that the IRL wouldn't be visiting Long Beach. This year is going to be weird, with the deal as late as it was there isn't any way to avoid that. I think next season will be the first one you'll be able to begin judging the merger with. Just please bring back Long Beach, Sonoma isn't nearly close enough for us hordes of SoCal fans.
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