AVONDALE, Louisiana – Sebastien Bourdais’ smiling face was the lone recognizable feature as Stefano Coletti arrived at NOLA Motorsports Park to test in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology car.
Coletti, who most recently has contested in the GP2 Series in Europe, and Bourdais met in 2008 when Bourdais was competing in Formula One.
“He’s a great guy and racer,” Coletti said of the four-time Champ Car champion.
Coletti, who drove a Verizon IndyCar Series car for the first time during a test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in mid-December at Sebring International Raceway, is resolved to be on the grid for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“First of all, we’re having a lot of fun on the track. It’s quite nice to drive, and it’s fun to see how the car handles in fast corners,” said Coletti, who also will drive Feb. 11. “We’re happy with the team. I think there is good cooperation with me and Sebastien and we get along really well.
“I want to race here this year. I don’t know for which team it’s going to be but I’m trying to find a job somewhere.
“It’s good to have this time on the track. For me, it’s a bit more complicated because everything is new. The track is new, the car is new, but it’s coming around.”
Coletti, 25, of Monaco, placed sixth in the GP2 championship standings with two victories and won three times in finishing fifth in the 2013 standings.
“It’s been a long time that I’ve wanted to come to the States for racing. In 2008, I packed my bags and I almost came here. In the end it did not work out because my (Formula 3 Euro Series) contract was signed, and then my management preferred me to stay in Europe a bit longer.
“I think the racing in IndyCar is amazing and that’s why I’ve always wanted to come here.”
It also was Bourdais’ first day of the new year in the No 11 Chevrolet and initial time on the 2.67-mile road course. Bourdais, entering his second year with KVSH Racing, won at Toronto (career 32nd) and added four other top-five finishes in the 18 races.
A teammate to provide data as aerodynamic bodywork kits come on board next month and competition to Bourdais is among the goals for the second car, according to team co-owner Jimmy Vasser.
“We couldn’t be happier with (Bourdais’) leadership and building the team around himself,” Vasser said. “We feel like we could have won a few more races last year, but winning a race is still a fantastic achievement with the competitive level of the sport these days.
“We’ve been working on a few options for our second car. Coletti popped up to do a test, but we do have some other irons in the fire. We’re still in talks with (Sebastian) Saavedra, who was with us last year, and a few other guys. We’ll see what happens with that car.”