this June 4, 2016 file photo, Sebastien Bourdais, of
France, celebrates winning race one of the IndyCar
Detroit Grand Prix auto racing double header on
Belle Isle in Detroit. Bourdais speaks reverently
about the Le Mans 24 Race in his native France, as
if some mythical force has a hand in the
competition. “I don’t know what’s the criteria
... All I can tell you is Le Mans picks its
winner,” Bourdais said. If that’s the case, this
year, the race finally picked him.
LAKE — Sebastien Bourdais speaks reverently about the Le
Mans 24-hour race in his native France, as if some
mythical force has a hand in the competition.
don't know what's the criteria ... All I can tell you is
Le Mans picks its winner," Bourdais said.
the case, this year, the race finally picked him.
memorable trip back to France, Bourdais is back this
weekend with the IndyCar series, which is returning to
Road America for the first time since 2007. His class
victory at Le Mans last week was his first win in 11 tries
on his home track.
me, it's been a long time coming, trying to chase this one
for quite some time," Bourdais said Friday in between
Road America practice sessions.
with Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller to drive the No. 68 Ford
Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT on a day memorable for another
reason for the team coming 50 years after Ford's podium
sweep at Le Mans in 1966.
kind of the European version of the Indy 500," said
Scott Dixon, part of a team that drove the No. 69 Ford GT
to a third-place class finish. "Just really happy for
Sebastien. He's run there many years and come close many
times to get that victory."
chose to deflect the attention toward Ford's milestone.
a driver, especially for me, I'm the helper on the team.
I'm the third driver, I come for the long races,"
Bourdais said. "It's not your program, so you're just
trying to bring your experience ... and be a
that experience that made him such a valuable commodity,
so much so that he spent his weekend off from the IndyCar
circuit and his KVSH Racing No. 11 Chevy to return to Le
was important for them to have him on that team because of
his experience at Le Mans," KVSH co-owner Jimmy
Vasser said. "He brought a lot to that organization
because he's been there before."
at Road America, the 4-plus mile road course in Elkhart
Lake some 60 miles north of Milwaukee. IndyCar is back at
the sprawling, woodsy venue for the first time since
Bourdais was the winner here.
qualified in the front row in each of his four previous
starts at Road America in the CART series, including poles
in 2004 and 2007. Bourdais has finished on the podium each
time, including his first-place finish nine years ago.
He's the only current IndyCar driver to have won at the
me, it's the best track in the (United States). I really
cherish this place," Bourdais said. "It's kept
its identity over the years."
coming to Elkhart Lake with momentum. Before Le Mans,
Bourdais picked up his first IndyCar victory of the year
June 4 at Belle Isle.
a slight hiccup, though, after the early practice on
Friday. The tires on the No. 11 car were getting beat up,
he said, though it wasn't necessarily a tire issue.
were definitely struggling a little bit," Bourdais
said. "We've got some work to do. We'll see how we
can bounce back."
Rahal recorded the fastest speed of the day at 140.265
mph, in the second of two practice sessions. Will Power
was next at 140.076. Both spoke about getting used to the
traction and the wear on tires on a course with abrasive
curbs that requires hard braking around some corners.
Pagenaud, who leads the IndyCar standings, had the fastest
time in the early practice round at 139.644 mph. Bourdais,
who is 14th in the standings, was 15th in the first
practice at 138.025.
Mans, Pagenaud was rooting for fellow Frenchman Bourdais.
They were teammates at Le Mans in car that finished second
pretty cool to see him do it, as a Frenchman in Le
Mans," Pagenaud said. "I know how much (Le Mans)
is important to his heart."