Esteban Gutierrez, Dale Coyne Racing’s Verizon IndyCar Series rookie who’s filling in for the recovering Sebastien Bourdais, will have some recovering of his own to do after a hard crash during Honda Indy Toronto qualifying left him with concussion-like symptoms.
The driver of the No. 18 Unifin Honda had just laid down the sixth-fastest lap in Group 2 with a time just shy of the one-minute mark when he clipped the inside wall at the exit of Turn 11. The contact sent his car careening to the opposite side of the track where it made hard contact with the wall.
The car suffered extensive damage to the right side and even caught fire before Gutierrez exited the vehicle under his own power. The Holmatro Safety Team was quickly on site to extinguish any lingering flames.
“It was not ideal obviously, it’s been a tough weekend overall,” Gutierrez said after the crash. “Yesterday we lost a bit of track time due to contact in Turn 1 and today it was a pretty hard hit in a high-speed corner.
“I was having some understeer and I was trying to anticipate a bit the entry of the corner but I touched the inside wall a bit and it sent me straight into the outside wall, pretty hard.
“It’s unfortunate and I feel really bad for the team, they have a lot of work to do.”
The Coyne team was hard at work in the evening hours getting the car ready to be back on track for warm-up at 11:30 a.m. EDT with the 85-lap race scheduled to go green at 3:47 p.m.
INDYCAR Provides Gutierrez Medical Update
While the Dale Coyne-led team was putting all its resources into getting the No. 18 Honda back together, INDYCAR released a medical statement concerning Gutierrez.
“Following an incident during qualifications today for the Honda Indy Toronto, Dale Coyne Racing driver Esteban Gutierrez was evaluated by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger after experiencing concussion-like symptoms,” the statement read. “Gutierrez was treated and released but has not been cleared to drive, pending further evaluation Sunday morning.”
With Gutierrez an unknown and Bourdais — who is present in Toronto supporting the team — not yet cleared to resume driving duties following his Indianapolis 500 qualifying crash, it is unclear what the team’s plan will be if a backup driver is needed on such short notice.
Should INDYCAR clear Gutierrez to drive, he will start last on the grid having lost his fastest lap pursuant to Rule 126.96.36.199.
The first on-track activity for the Verizon IndyCar Series is not until 11:30 a.m., giving INDYCAR ample time to re-evaluate Gutierrez in the morning prior to the 30-minute warm-up session.