Kyffin Simpson, a first Indy 500 under the watchful eye of Sébastien Bourdais

At 19 years old, Kyffin Simpson is the youngest driver in the peloton for the 500 Indianapolis 2024. The rookie can, however, count on the experience of Sébastien Bourdais to guide him.

Published on 24/05/2024 à 13:12

Michael Duforest

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Kyffin Simpson, a first Indy 500 under the watchful eye of Sébastien Bourdais

© Penske Entertainment: Paul Hurley

Bourdais, who is one of the drivers for Chip Ganassi Racing behind the wheel of the Cadillac V-Series.R in IMSA and 24 Hours of Le Mans, is Kyffin Simpson's assigned coach for the 2024 seasonIndyCar. Quadruple Champ Car champion, Le Manceau has nine starts in the Indiana classic. Seventh in 2014 and ninth in 2016, he was able to help the champion ELMS title to adapt to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but also to IndyCar in general. His arrival as coach, a role that Dario Franchitti also fulfills, came via the IMSA part of the Ganassi team.

“This is my retirement plan”, he explains, laughing. “I have a great relationship with the team and the engineer, Danielle (Shepherd), who was with us in the IMSA program the last two years. Chris (Wheeler, race strategist) was my spotter for many years. He's also my best friend in the States, so I came to help out in St. Pete. It went well and seemed like a good solution. We found a way to get me to come to all the races that don't conflict with IMSA. It's a different role. »

Bourdais, a “valuable help” for Simpson

Alongside Franchitti, three-time winner of the Indy 500, Sébastien Bourdais is particularly focusing on rookie Kyffin Simpson, originally from the Cayman Islands. The French driver must therefore teach Simpson all the things to know when tackling one of the biggest races on the planet, on a circuit which generally does not forgive the slightest error.

“At Indy, it's all about the details, the little things that have a huge impact. If you don't pay attention to details, this place is like a magnet for mistakes. There is always something that doesn't go as planned. With beginners, it's about trying to keep expectations realistic. The car is going to be fast, we know that, so it's about making sure we don't make mistakes and jeopardize our chances. If you execute and have a good race with the car, you can easily be in the top 10. You have to not damage the car, stay calm, learn as much as possible and take a cautious approach. However, you also have to manage the timing well in the race, in order to play your cards at the right time. »

Asked by AUTOhebdo about the contribution of Sébastien Bourdais this season, Kyffin Simpson did not minimize the impact of the Frenchman, on the contrary: “Seb has been a huge help to me throughout this week of the Indy 500. And honestly, all year. He's been to a lot of races to help me, help me understand how IndyCar races are done, help me understand the tracks and the car. He has helped me a lot throughout the year, but especially here, during the Indy 500. Yes, he will be back this weekend to help me a little more. »

Comments by Kyffin Simpson collected by Michaël Duforest.

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