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Bourdais, Van Der Zande Seek Sweep of Street Courses

Two of IMSA’s Best on Streets Have Chance to Double Up for Cadillac in Detroit

By Tony DiZinno


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Heading into Long Beach, it appeared likely that Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande could deliver another street course win in their No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R, prepared by Chip Ganassi Racing.


The finite margins that occur in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship are such that a hybrid issue nearly derailed their hopes before the race even started, so Bourdais was left with only one qualifying run.


He still came within 0.023 seconds of capturing the Motul Pole Award, leaving him third in Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) at the start of the 100-minute Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 20.


A strategic play to run the whole 100-minute race on one set of Michelin’s soft compound tires emerged and coupled with a slight traffic balk plus two-tire stop for the rival No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac, Bourdais and van der Zande were back on top in Long Beach.


In 2023, Long Beach was the only street course race on the WeatherTech Championship calendar. That changes for 2024, with the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic making its return for the first time in two years since the final run on the Belle Isle street course in 2022.


Fittingly, Bourdais and van der Zande won that race too, so they could hold three different street track victory titles in two different cities simultaneously if they’re able to double up on Detroit’s new downtown circuit next week.


It will be interesting to see how the WeatherTech Championship takes to the 1.654-mile, nine-turn street course that debuted in 2023, encircling what has been General Motors’ corporate headquarters at the Renaissance Center.


The track is largely comprised of 90-degree corners, mostly left-handed at the counter-clockwise circuit. This could again play to the strengths of the 5.5-liter V-8, naturally aspirated Cadillac powerplant, which has often excelled powering off slower corners onto long straights.


Bourdais and van der Zande have a strong history in Detroit on their own, with seven total wins over the last decade.


Van der Zande has won his last two starts on Belle Isle in 2021 and ’22 in the former Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, and added Prototype Challenge class wins in 2015 and ‘16. Bourdais has three wins in Detroit (with van der Zande in 2022 in IMSA, plus two previously in IndyCar).


Add to that Cadillac’s success in Detroit with four wins from five starts in the DPi era (2017, 2018, 2021, 2022) and the odds seem very much in their favor even heading into a new track.


“For me, for sure, from all the years in IndyCar it’s a lot of street courses!” Bourdais reflected on why he’s had such success on street courses.


“I’ve always embraced the challenge. It’s one of the most exciting parts of racing. And we’re super lucky the Cadillac has been quite strong on street courses. There are plenty of strengths, I guess.”


Van der Zande took the opportunity to bestow praise on his co-driver.


“Seb is very fast on the qualifying laps, and he gets a lot of pole positions. (Long Beach) could have been that had he gone out a bit earlier,” the Dutchman said.


“His driving style suits street tracks really well. It’s the best teammate to have. It’s a great combination for the street tracks.”


He also hinted at why he thinks the Cadillac platform has done so well on IMSA’s pair of street courses.


“Cadillac was always great at Belle Isle in Detroit,” he said. “It was always strong, and always the car to beat. When it’s bumpy, it seems to do super well. So that’s mainly Sebring and street tracks.


“We’re happy to win on street tracks, or anywhere, really.”


The Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic airs live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, June 1 on USA Network and Peacock.