Jay Penske - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
There's been no resolution to owner Jay Penske's $4.6-million lawsuit against Lotus Cars that argues contractual obligations were never met, but the team used Chevrolet power - with INDYCAR permission - for its two-car Dragon Racing team during the 96th Indianapolis 500, for rookie Katherine Legge and four-time Champ Car World Series titleholder Sebastien Bourdais.
During the month of May there was no discussion about the future, with both engine supplier Chevrolet and the team looking to solidify a good result to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on May 27. With Legge unable to take part in Rookie Orientation Program and conducting that three-phase test before Fast Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - and with Bourdais pretty much in the same boat having to perform a "refresher" course - it was difficult for the team and their brace of drivers to get a foothold on conditions and on their cars.
From starting positions of 25th for Bourdais, the fastest second-day qualifier and 30th for Legge, the Dragon Racing team knew how difficult it would be to post a reasonable result. They would finish 20th and 22nd, respectively in the sweltering conditions on race day, both a lap down to the leaders.
Katherine Legge - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
After the Indy 500, Dragon Racing announced it would continue with Chevrolet power for the balance of the season, albeit with a single full-time entry and with driving duties shared by Bourdais and Legge. With the switch from Lotus to Chevrolet, the Bow Tie Brigade simply doesn't have a sufficient store of engines to accommodate two cars at this time. It could change as the season goes along, but for now, the duo will share the single Dragon Racing entry, which will display the No. 7 when Bourdais is in the cockpit and the No. 6 when Legge is driving the Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry.
Bourdais will be at the helm this coming weekend at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, while Legge takes over in Texas on June 9; she will also drive the No. 6 TrueCar Dragon Racing entry at Milwaukee a week after Texas, on a track where she's had one of her best performances in the Champ Car World Series, starting eighth and finishing sixth in 2006 - when she also led the race.
Sebastien Bourdais - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Bourdais had committed to driving a Dome-Judd for Henri Pescarolo in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17, so he would not have been driving at The Milwaukee Mile in any event.
Legge will drive on the Iowa Speedway short oval the final weekend of a five-race stretch, handing the reins to Bourdais for the Canadian rounds at Toronto and Edmonton, two tracks where the Frenchman has multiple victories. As Dragon Racing continues to work closely with Chevrolet in the hopes of adding a second engine and, therefore getting back to their two-car strength, in the interim the team will consolidate its efforts to create the strongest possible single entry for each contest.
"I'd love to have two Chevrolets on track every weekend, but I remain extremely grateful to Chevy for stepping in at the last minute and providing us not only the two engines for Indy, but also committing to provide us full support for a single entry for the rest of the season which they were under no obligation to do" said Jay Penske, owner of Dragon Racing.
"It has been a tough season thus far, and I've had to make some difficult choices but I've done so with the ultimate goal of winning races and doing what is best for the team and our partners. I think with the experience of our crew, our engineers, and drivers, and the tremendous support of our partners, this team is capable of winning races this year despite the setbacks we have encountered."
In addition to consolidating driving duties, this merger also includes Dragon Racing's sponsors and partners, each formidable leaders in their respective fields of expertise. Bourdais' car has been wearing the colors of McAfee's dedicated security technology, while Legge is the leader of six TrueCar female drivers for the company that excels in online automotive purchasing. Dragon Racing also works with WheelPros—the largest wheel company in the world, Microsoft's BING global online search and Chevrolet in automotive manufacturing and motorsports.
Dragon Racing believes that the alignment of such strong and influential brands, combined with Legge and Bourdais each driving at tracks where their respective skill sets can be maximized will provide the platform for the two drivers to continue to develop the car and work their way up the leaderboard as they showcase the partner liveries that have been fan favorites throughout the season.
"We're very excited about our continued partnership with Dragon Racing and Chevrolet," said Scott Painter, founder and CEO of TrueCar. "Moreover the addition of such strong technology partners to the No. 6 and No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing entry, and the combination of Katherine, who is our leader of the TrueCar Racing effort and the first ever all-women racing team, and Sebastien, one of the most successful open wheel racers and four-time champion--this is sure to be a winning combination."
"We are extremely pleased with the results at the Indianapolis 500" added Todd Gebhart, McAfee's Co-President. "We have been a proud partner and supporter of Dragon Racing since 2009, and are excited to see what can be achieved with Seb and Katherine at the wheel of the Chevy powered DW12 for the remainder of the season."