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 Road Atlanta
Prototype Drivers
Pos Drivers Total
Prototype Drivers
1 Joao Barbosa 349
1 Christian Fittipaldi 349
2 Jordan Taylor 330
2 Ricky Taylor 330
3 Michael Valiante 318
3 Richard Westbrook 318
4 Scott Pruett 317
5 Gustavo Yacaman 287
6 Memo Rojas 285
7 Oswaldo Negri Jr. 281
7 John Pew 281
8 Ed Brown 262
8 Johannes van Overbeek 262
9 Ryan Dalziel 228
9 Scott Sharp 228
10 Joel Miller 222
11 Tristan Nunez 208
12 Sylvain Tremblay 179
13 Eric Curran 175
14 Olivier Pla 172
15 Alex Brundle 169
16 Boris Said 168
17 Burt Frisselle 154
18 Tom Long 137
19 Katherine Legge 131
20 Max Angelelli 121
21 Andy Meyrick 111
22 Brian Frisselle 106
23 Sage Karam 104
24 Sebastien Bourdais 100
25 Gabby Chaves 82
26 Scott Dixon 81
27 HoPin Tung 80
28 Mike Rockenfeller 76
29 Marino Franchitti 24 8 36 1 60
30 Tristan Vautier 59
31 Jon Fogarty 55
32 Simon Pagenaud 52
33 David Brabham 50
34 Tony Kanaan 50
35 Max Papis 49
36 Klaus Graf 46
36 Lucas Luhr 46
37 Guy Cosmo 46
38 Anthony Lazzaro 46
39 Ben Devlin 46
40 Justin Wilson 43
41 Byron DeFoor 41
41 David Hinton 41
41 Jim Pace 41
42 Wayne Taylor 33
43 Fabien Giroix 31
43 John Martin 31
44 Alex Popow 30
45 Roman Rusinov 26
45 Oliver Webb 26
46 Kyle Larson 24
47 Frank Beck 23
48 Bradley Smith 22
49 Jamie McMurray 21
50 AJ Allmendinger 20
51 Jann Mardenborough 19
52 James Hinchcliffe 19
53 Alexander Rossi 16
54 Sebastian Saavedra 16
55 Brendon Hartley 15
55 E.J. Viso 15
56 Memo Gidley 14
56 Alex Gurney 14
57 Scott Mayer 3
58 Pierre Kaffer 1
59 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