Signing Sebastien Bourdais to lead KVSH Racing into 2014 was the first priority for team owners Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan in the wake of Tony Kanaan’s departure for Chip Ganassi Racing.
With the French ace in place, the veteran team is now on the hunt for Bourdais’ teammate, but unlike the short timeline involved with the Champ Car champion’s acquisition, the sense of urgency isn’t as high for filling the second KVSH entry.
?We’ve taken some calls from a few people poking around to see what we’re doing, but we’re not rushing into things right now,? Vasser told RACER. ?We know we have an amazing driver in Seb, and that was something we knew we wanted and went after. Now we’re taking things slowly to look at the right situation for the second car and who’s a good fit for the team and who’s going to benefit from having a guy like Bourdais as their teammate. That part’s been cool. He’s attracted some strong interest, that’s for sure.?
Bourdais recently completed his first test for KVSH at Sebring, and the team also ran French-Canadian Indy Lights drive Mikael Grenier, who made a solid impression on the team.?Grenier was really quick for having so little seat time. He made very few mistakes, he didn’t fatigue, and he and Sebastien were within a few tenths of each other. Even Sebastien said ?This kid’s quick.’ Mikael’s coming to meet Kevin and I–but don’t read too much into that–to have a face-to-face to see where he’s at. He was right there in the test, but he knows the seat requires a budget, so he’s going to come and tell us where he’s at on budget.
?And there’s the usual cast of characters out there. Tag [Alex Tagliani] is pining for the No. 10 [Target Chip Ganassi Racing] seat, but I’m not sure if that’s the way they’ll go, and we’d love to work with him if he’s available. We’d love to work with Oriol [Servia], we’d be open to working with Simona [de Silvestro] again; she was awesome and was a great fit for our team, but I hear she might have some options that could take her elsewhere.?
Vasser also says that if a funded full-time cannot be found, he and his partners would be open to drivers sharing the second KVSH car.
?It wouldn’t be ideal, but we’ve discussed it”we’d be open to splitting the ovals with one driver and the road and streets with another, but that’s not the direction we’re hoping to go,? he added.
The team is also searching for a race engineer to replace the departed Eric Cowdin who followed Kanaan to Ganassi.
?We do have options to replace Eric internally with Matt Curry and Olivier Boisson,? noted Vasser. ?We have a lot of talent internally, but there’s also some talent out there that isn’t available at the moment that might become available pretty soon, so we’re deciding whether it’s best to promote someone into that role for Seb or to look outside. Either way, we’re really happy with the engineering talent we have, and feel confident whatever direction we go.?
The 2014 season kicks off in March, giving KVSH plenty of time to work through its list of candidates and interested parties for the second car.
?I think we’ll get the second car in place before we get to the end of January, and we’re looking to run a third car at Indy so that could give someone a good chance,? Vasser continued. ?Those were our strengths last year, so we know we’ll have good oval cars. Our big push this off-season is on the road and street setups, because that’s where we needed to up our game and Bourdais (ABOVE, pic LAT) is already bringing us in a really good direction.
?For where we are, with the big changes we’ve recently had, I really like where we’re at. The Bourdais move worked out really well. We tried to get the right guy in the car, and with this track record and speed, we’re confident we got the right guy. His feedback at Sebring was the best we’ve gotten from a driver in a long while, and he’s a proven champion. We know he’ll help our team grow and we’re ready to grow with him.?