Sebastien Bourdais at the 2011 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Following earlier reports and a couple of test sessions, four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais is returning to open wheel racing in America with the Dale Coyne team. The French driver had graduated to an unsuccessful stint in Formula One with Scuderia Toro Rosso after dominating the Champ Car series in its pre-merger days, and is returning to IndyCar racing this season.

The deal with Coyne will see Bourdais campaign only the street and road-course races on the calendar, and not the oval speedways – less due to his relative expertise in the corners as opposed to banked tracks and more, according to reports, to avoid scheduling conflicts with his drive for Peugeot's Le Mans team.

Bourdais' return kicked off this past weekend at the season opener in St Petersburg, Florida, however he didn't make it onto the starting grid. The experienced grand prix driver crashed his Dallara in the first chicane during a warm-up session, resulting in heavy damage. After his teammate James Jakes crashed around the same time at Turn Three and the team was left without a back-up car, it had only enough parts to repair one chassis and Jakes' was the less damaged of the two.

We'll look forward to seeing Bourdais get his groove back at the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 10, followed by Long Beach on April 17 and Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 1 before the series hits the speedways in June.

[Source: Autosport | Image: Steve Nesius/AP]