Sonoma, CA (September 16, 2017) – Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones had a bit of an up and down qualifying session with the Frenchman placing 10th and the rookie 18th on the grid for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Both Dale Coyne Racing drivers took to the track in Group 2 of qualifying at the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course. Halfway through the 10-minute session, Bourdais was ninth with Jones 10th. However, after coming in for a fresh set of Firestone Red tires, Jones registered his fastest time of the session on his fifth lap with a time of 1:17.0231 that placed him ninth in his group and 18th on the starting grid.
Bourdais put in his best time of 1:16.5847 in Round 1 on his sixth and final lap which allowed him to make it to the second round of qualifying.
The driver of the #18 UNIFIN car placed as high as eighth early on in Round 2 of qualifying but would end up 10th with a fastest lap of 1:16.5811.
Earlier in the day, Jones was presented with the Sunoco Rookie of the Year trophy that he clinched on August 26, 2017 at Gateway Motorsports Park. So far, this season, Jones has five Top 10 finishes including a best finish of third at the Indianapolis 500 with only Sunday’s race remaining.
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be broadcast live on NBCSN starting from 6:30pm ET. The green flag will fall on the last race of the season at 6:50pm ET.
What they had to say:
Sebastien Bourdais - #18 UNIFIN Honda
“It’s disappointing. I think the team did a good job with the car at the test and then we came back and we felt strong and we were looking really good but then the Firestone Reds happened. We keep on trying to find things to make them work but we’re losing track of things and it feels like we’re drifting and not really identifying what’s the cause. It’s tough because you don’t have enough time to work with them. I’m sure we’d find a solution but not in the short amount of time you have, you just have to make a lap time happen and I can’t do that so it’s tough but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Ed Jones - #19 Boy Scouts of America Honda
(On Rookie of the Year): “It's been a great year for us. It's an honor to receive this award. There's so many great drivers in the past that have won it as rookies and have moved on to be champions or won a lot of races. I'm hoping I can be part of that.
“I have to thank Dale and Dale Coyne Racing, for the opportunity I've had this year, working alongside a great team of engineers which has allowed me to progress quickly and have some of the great results we've had. It's been a fantastic year.
“Coming through the Mazda Road to Indy was key to my success this year. Before 2015, I only raced in Europe. Learning all the American circuits was really important for me. To do that in Indy Lights was really helpful. Learning ovals, a part of that was the Indy 500. If I hadn't done Indy Lights, I wouldn't have been able to gain that experience, wouldn't have been able to do that. It's key for young, up-and-coming drivers like myself to go through that to make it in IndyCar.”
(On qualifying): “It’s a bit frustrating. We tried something and it helped in some areas but there were some down sides as well. That said, we had to try something because we were quite a bit off yesterday, but we’ll keep working on it overnight and hopefully we can get a good run tomorrow.”
Sébastien Bourdais en français
« C’est décevant. Lors des essais cette année l’équipe a fait du bon travail et en arrivant pour la course ce weekend, on était confiant et ça regardait bien mais une fois qu’on a mis les pneus rouges ça tout changé. On essais de trouver la solution pour être performant sur les pneus rouges mais on dirait qu’on s’éloigne ou lieu de s’approcher de la solution. Je suis confiant qu’on trouverait la solution mais avec le peu de temps qu’on a en piste c’est difficile. Il faut inscrire un temps rapidement mais en ce moment ce n’est pas facile. On verra comment demain se déroule. »