Here to stay: Bourdais continues to triumph in underdog role
DETROIT — Sebastien Bourdais is finding IndyCar success the second time around.
During Bourdais’ first run at American open-wheel racing, he enjoyed tremendous success with 31 victories and four-straight Champ Car World Series championships from 2004-2007. When Champ Car and the old Indy Racing League merged to become the IndyCar Series in 2008, Bourdais was missing from the lineup. The talented driver from LeMans, France was in Formula One in 2008 and 2009.
He returned to IndyCar in 2011, driving in nine of the 17 races for Dragon Racing and 11 of 15 contests in 2012 before racing a full season for Dragon in 2013. Bourdais moved over to KVSH Racing in 2014 and scored a race victory last July in Toronto.
Bourdais got off to a solid start in 2015, scoring four top 10 finishes in the first five races. He backed it up with a win in Sunday’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race No. 2 in Detroit. It was the 33rd career IndyCar win for Bourdais, putting him eighth on the all-time victory list — one win away from Al Unser, Jr.
He may no longer be the young French phenom that he was back in the Champ Car days, but Bourdais has proven he can still win races in the highly-competitive Verizon IndyCar Series.
"I’m 36 years old, I’m not a youngster anymore," Bourdais said. "I’m more in the T.K. (Tony Kanaan), Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves group than the young guns. I probably have quite a few more years behind me than in front of me. You look at the championship standings right now, you see all the guys — the experienced guys — as quick as ever, running right up there, making very few mistakes.
"It’s a great feeling. I think the reason why we’re here is we love racing, we love these cars, we love the series, and the tracks we race on. It’s just a lot of fun.
"I’ll keep on racing this kind of series for as long as I get paid to do so."
And if Bourdais continues to drive like he did in Sunday’s race, he should be collected checks for quite a while. He was fast and fearless on Sunday, mastering a wet track at the start and then picking the right time to switch to racing slicks for the dry conditions. At the end of the race when he was trying to conserve fuel, he drove the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to beat Japan’s Takuma Sato by 1.7644 seconds.
In the past two weekends, the 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indy 500 winner Montoya won his second Indy 500 and at Detroit, four-time Champ Car Series champion Bourdais ended up in victory lane, proving these two old champions are still tremendous IndyCar drivers enjoying success late in their careers.
"Obviously Juan had the opportunity to get back in a championship-winning team," Bourdais said of Team Penske. "We’re more of an underdog (at KVSH), especially on the ovals. We don’t quite have the resources to investigate as much as they do. They have four cars and they get it right more often than not.
"For us, that’s why it’s so sweet. When we get it right like we did last year, we qualify on pole, run up front, and win the race. Or today we passed them on the track; give them a real run for their money. They’re not happy about it. We like to create the upset. I like the challenge. I’ll keep on doing it as much as I can."
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