Bourdais Riding Hot Hand Back to Ford GT at Sebring
Thursday, March 15, 2018

For the second year in a row, Sebastien Bourdais will come to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on the heels of a victory in his hometown IndyCar race, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

This year’s victory was a thrilling one for the Frenchman who has made his home in St. Petersburg for the past several years. He vaulted from third to the victory on a late-race restart when the top two cars made contact with each other in Turn 1.

It also marked the second time this year – in just two race starts – where Bourdais visited a postrace podium. He finished second in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January alongside co-drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.

Since winning last Sunday’s IndyCar race, Bourdais has been busy with media activities for both IndyCar and IMSA. On Wednesday, he went to Texas Motor Speedway for IndyCar tire testing today. He’ll arrive in Sebring late tonight and will begin on-track preparations for the Twelve Hours tomorrow.

“Obviously, we opened the season with a strong performance from the Ford GT program,” Bourdais said. “I’m looking forward to Sebring. We had a pretty good test (at Sebring last month). I think we started to really have a far better understanding of the car and we’re far closer in the zone and the setup and everything, optimization-wise. The car feels really good.

“I think we’ll hopefully be right there in Sebring. The thing is, you never know where the opposition is at, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job at getting there in the test. The boys have worked really hard. Yeah, coming off a strong first race and on the personal side, obviously, coming off a very successful weekend in St. Pete, I’m looking forward to trying to keep the momentum going and bring that over to Sebring.”

As the team’s endurance specialist, Bourdais plays a different role in the No. 66 Ford GT than his primary job in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda IndyCar. But it’s an important one, and one he appreciates.

“As a third driver, you’re just really trying not to impede,” he said. “It takes a bit of time for them to really kind of orchestrate their little duo and refine. It’s so much about details in the GTLM class because there’s only professional drivers, the cars are quite tough to drive and it’s really 10 tenths-plus the whole time. More and more, now that I know the car a little better, I try to just let them set the car up.

“I might think different, because I think Joey is kind of halfway down the road between Dirk and I, but there’s a pretty drastic preference difference as far as the car is concerned in terms of setup. If I was to set the car up for myself, I’d probably be going faster, but in the meantime, Joey and Dirk would really hate it. I’m not in charge of this program, I’m just here to help, so you really try and let these guys do what they really want and make sure that you can still extract potential out of a car that might not be whatever is the best for you.

“That’s also the compromise that you’ve got to make when you want to be a team player. The light’s not on me on that program. It’s all about the program itself and those two guys who make it happen, because they are the ones behind the wheel when it’s go time at the end.”