for your iPhone
for your iPad
Tudor USCC

Classes

Prototype (P)

Prototype Challenge(PC)

GT Le Mans (GTLM

GT Daytona (GTD)

USCC Point Standings
2014 After Long Beach
Prototype Drivers
1 Joao Barbosa 98
1 Christian Fittipaldi 98
2 Scott Pruett 93
2 Memo Rojas 93
3 Jordan Taylor 91
3 Ricky Taylor 91
4 Olivier Pla 84
4 Gustavo Yacaman 84
5 Michael Valiante 78
5 Richard Westbrook 78
6 Ed Brown 77
6 Johannes van Overbeek 77
7 Ryan Dalziel 76
7 Scott Sharp 76
8 Sebastien Bourdais 67
9 Oswaldo Negri Jr. 66
9 John Pew 66
10 Boris Said 64
11 Marino Franchitti 60
12 Joel Miller 59
13 Max Angelelli 58
14 Alex Brundle 56
15 Brian Frisselle 55
15 Burt Frisselle 55
16 Simon Pagenaud 52
17 Mike Rockenfeller 51
18 David Brabham 50
18 Scott Dixon 50
18 Tony Kanaan 50
19 Sage Karam 47
20 Klaus Graf 46
20 Lucas Luhr 46
21 Tristan Nunez 44
22 Eric Curran 43
22 Justin Wilson 43
23 Byron DeFoor 41
23 David Hinton 41
23 Jim Pace 41
24 Tom Long 40
24 Sylvain Tremblay 40
25 Tristan Vautier 35
26 Gabby Chaves 33
26 Katherine Legge 33
26 Andy Meyrick 33
26 Wayne Taylor 33
27 Fabien Giroix 31
27 John Martin 31
28 Alex Popow 30
29 Roman Rusinov 26
29 Oliver Webb 26
30 Jon Fogarty 25
30 Anthony Lazzaro 25
31 Kyle Larson 24
32 Frank Beck 23
33 Max Papis 22
33 Bradley Smith 22
34 Ben Devlin 21
34 Jamie McMurray 21
35 AJ Allmendinger 20
35 Guy Cosmo 20
36 Jann Mardenborough 19
37 James Hinchcliffe 18
38 Alexander Rossi 16
38 Sebastian Saavedra 16
39 Brendon Hartley 15
39 E.J. Viso 15
40 Memo Gidley 14
40 Alex Gurney 14
41 Scott Mayer 2
42 Pierre Kaffer 1
42 Darren Law 1
Sebastien Bourdais

Brian Carroccio
Sunday, July 29, 2012

Advertisement

Sebastien Bourdais
Friday's inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was one of the stranger races I remember watching.  Whether it was the seemingly empty IMS grandstands, the rare Friday afternoon start, the cars going backwards down the straightaway (something I've yet to get used to) the constantly changing weather, or all of those things combined, I cannot exactly pinpoint.  However, I can definitively pinpoint one thing I found odd yesterday: I was rooting for Sebastien Bourdais. 

Bourdais, of course, co-drove the No. 2 Soloson Import Ford-Riley Starworks Motorsport entry with Alex Popow.  During the final stint, Bourdais masterfully negotiated the variable conditions, and ultimately found victory lane.  Further, Bourdais' first win on American soil in five years, provides something of a unique opportunity to re-evaluate how we once judged the seemingly prickly Frenchman. 

Obviously, Bourdais' talent has never been in question.  Simply put, the 33-year old Le Mans, France native is a BAD ASS behind the wheel.  From 2004-2007 he won four consecutive Champ Car titles, and an astounding 31 races in 73 starts over 5 seasons.  Now, many will correctly point out the CART/Champ Car field during Bourdais' run lacked the quality and depth it boasted in the 1990s.  However, Paul Tracy, A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Wilson, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bruno Junqueira, Cristiano da Matta, Jimmy Vasser, and Patrick Carpentier, amongst others, all ran Champ Car during that time, and Bourdais regularly cleaned all their clocks. 

However, despite dominating the final years of the Champ Car circuit, Bourdais wasn't exactly building himself a legion of fans. While never problematic, or volatile, Bourdais was never exactly engaging either.  Donning those professorial glasses, and a seemingly always sour demeanor Bourdais displayed about as much charm as your average doornail.  When he won it didn't seem to be with a youthful joy of say, a Helio Castroneves, rather the clinical precision of a cold-blooded assassin.

The combination of Bourdais' dominance and charm deficient personality, resulted in the Frenchman  often finding himself in the role of villain.  Whether it was Paul Tracy playing the lovable bad boy, A.J. Allmendinger as the wholesome all-American, or Robert Doornbos as the affable upstart, the cold, grumpy, publicly withdrawn Bourdais, made for an easy protagonist.  When he left Indy Car racing to join the Toro Rosso Formula One team for the 2008 season, no one seemed too disappointed. 

F1, of course, didn't exactly work out.  In 27 career starts, Bourdais never finished better than seventh, and was dropped midway through 2009 by the notoriously cut throat Italian team.  Since then, Bourdais has competed in numerous race series and found some success, winning three times each in Superleague, LeMans Series, and International LeMans.  He also won last fall in Australian V8 Supercars at Surfers Paradise.

Still, since being dropped by Toro Rosso, Bourdais has not really found a permanent home.  Over the past two seasons, he has made a combined 17 IndyCar starts, mostly running part-time with underfunded teams.  Last year, he ran the road and street course rounds for Dale Coyne Racing.  This year, Bourdais was expected to lead Dragon Racing's Lotus effort and contest the full 2012 schedule.  However, due to a lack of available engines, Dragon cut ties with Lotus in favor of a one car Chevrolet effort, with Bourdais contesting the road races, and Katherine Legge the ovals.  Sadly, Bourdais' best 2012 IndyCar result has been a ninth place finish. 

Yesterday, however, we once again were treated to Bourdais at his best.  The French ace, driving for a top-line team, partied like it was 2005. Strong in the rain, strong in the dry, Bourdais passed inside, he passed outside, never putting a wheel wrong.  With 31 minutes remaining took the lead and never looked back. 

But unlike the Champ Car days, Bourdais was not the villainous front-runner yesterday.  We weren't rooting for a Great American Hope, like Allmendinger. We weren't rooting for Tracy to carry the Champ Car flag.  No, Bourdais was carrying the Izod IndyCar Series flag yesterday.  A unified IndyCar Series.  Where that joyless clinical precision once was used to beat a beloved Tracy or Allmendinger, yesterday Bourdais used it dust the Grand-Am regulars, proudly representing IndyCar in the process.

Of course, with Bourdais cast in a different role yesterday, the timing is right to re-assess our prior conceptions of him.  Certainly, he did make for a good villain in the Champ Car days, particularly in his battles with Tracy.  Further, Bourdais did not then, nor will he ever have the personality of say a James Hinchcliffe, Helio Castroneves, or Tracy.  For example, could you ever imagine Bourdais in a Go-Daddy commercial or climbing a fence after he won?   

And in hindsight, that is error I and so many others made in judging Bourdais.  In bemoaning what he was not, we missed what he actually was:  A no-nonsense throwback, who is fast in whatever type of car he drives; a supreme talent, who isn't concerned with the pomp and circumstance of being a star.  He doesn't tweet fifty times a day.  He doesn't seem to care about anything except kicking ass. 

And yesterday, kick ass he did.  Further, he displayed every bit of that clinical precision so many of us once loathed.  For once, we were able to appreciate it.  Brian Carroccio, The Chrome Horn

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article