Sebastien Bourdais

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Sebastien Bourdais is back with KVSH Racing and so is co-primary sponsor Hydroxycut for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

KVSH co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven, James “Sulli” Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser confirmed today what Vasser called the “worst-kept secret of the season.” Bourdais, the four-time Indy car champion, will drive the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet. Bourdais won titles in Champ Car a record four straight seasons from 2004-2007 and is tied for seventh in all-time Indy car race wins with 34. Three of those wins have come with KVSH in the past two seasons.

It is expected to be the only full-season entry for KVSH in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series, allowing the team to focus on a single goal against the larger-budget, multi-car operations.

“We’re no Penske or Ganassi, but we can be as good or better on any given day when we get our stuff together,” said Bourdais, who turns 37 on Feb. 28. “That’s really the challenge for me that I relish. I’ve been on the side of being expected to win because you’re on the big teams and that’s what you should be doing.

“To be able to do it with a small organization and sometimes a fraction of their budget is a very awesome feeling. It also proves how competitive the series is. It’s harder but when you get it done, it’s very gratifying and it’s a credit to the people in the organization.”

Vasser said the team was still working to field a second full-season entry until recently, when the ownership trio decided to focus the effort on Bourdais’ car only.

“To coin a phrase from Kevin Kalkhoven, we put all the wood behind this one arrow and all of our resources,” Vasser said. “The main component starts with the driver and Bourdais is a proven, great champion, a legend in the sport.

“After the last couple years, we really feel we’re in a position to fight for the championship. We had one win two years ago, two wins last year, were in the championship going into the Mid-Ohio race … We know that we have our work to do on the ovals, but having said that, we also know that when the car’s right, Bourdais can practically lap the field like he did at Milwaukee last year.”

Sullivan, who focuses on the commercial side of the organization, is pleased to see the return of sponsor Hydroxycut, a leading weight loss supplement brand. It has been a partner with KVSH dating to 2013 when it sponsored the Indianapolis 500-winning car driven by Tony Kanaan.

“Having Hydroxycut, a world-class brand that’s been chosen by millions, back on board with us is a huge piece of the puzzle,” Sullivan said. “I believe we are positioned for a banner year with the Hydroxycut machine.”

This will be Bourdais’ 11th season driving Indy cars, with two years in Formula One sandwiched in between. He finished 10th in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

“Sebastien is a proven champion and has shown over the last two years that he is capable of competing and beating the best in the Verizon IndyCar Series,” Kalkhoven said. “We look forward to continuing to progress as a team and working to produce more championships.”

On-the-job training for rookies at Phoenix test

While Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Conor Daly of Dale Coyne Racing and Max Chilton of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams are on track and learning in the cockpit during this weekend's promoter test at Phoenix International Raceway, fellow Verizon IndyCar Series rookies Alexander Rossi and Spencer Pigot are acclimating to the teams they will compete with in 2016.

Pigot, the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, will compete in at least three races for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He spent much of his time watching the testing action from teammate Graham Rahal’s pit box.

“Just trying to learn as much as I can,” said Pigot, who will debut in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in two weeks but is not slated to race in the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 2.

Rossi, named to drive Andretti Autosport’s No. 98 Honda for the entire season earlier this week, watched the Feb. 26 PIR evening session for the spotter stand atop the Turn 1 suites with race strategist Bryan Herta and engineer Tom German.

“I’m here in an observatory role,” said Rossi, making his first-ever visit to an oval circuit and where he will make his oval racing debut at the 1.022-mile oval in April. “It’s building (chemistry) day by day. This is only our second day working together and we’re just beginning to understand each other and how we communicate.

“It’s a very interesting perspective to be up top and see the different approaches you can take into a corner. When you’re watching a video or from pit lane, it can all look the same, but when you get up high you can see it from a different perspective.”

Pigot and Rossi won’t have to wait long to drive their cars. Each will test for the first time on March 1 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.