Bourdais Feted at Champ Car World Series Banquet
In a whirlwind week that saw him win in Mexico City, fly across the Atlantic Ocean to test an F1 car in Europe and then fly back to Indianapolis, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Sebastien Bourdais officially closed his Champ Car World Series career Friday night at the organization’s year-end banquet at the Westin Hotel where the Series bid him an emotional farewell.
Bourdais with his 4th Vanderbilt Cup
Bourdais, who clinched an unprecedented fourth straight Champ Car title after winning in Australia in October, won in his final Champ Car start this past Sunday in Mexico City before spending part of the week testing his Toro Rosso Formula One car in Barcelona, Spain. The 27-year-old Frenchman returned to Indianapolis in time to collect the $500,000 bonus as Series Champion along with the Champion’s ring and the Vanderbilt Cup.
When came time for Bourdais to give his Champion’s speech, it was a difficult task.
“I didn’t prepare a speech because I knew I wouldn’t get through it,” said Bourdais as he was fighting back the tears. “It’s been the best five years of my life.”
In addition to his prizes as Champion, Bourdais also received the Hole in the Wall Camps Lap Leader Award and the Bridgestone Passion for Excellence Award. At the end of the festivities, a toast was offered to the departing Champion.
RuSPORTS' Justin Wilson, runner-up in the championship, received the Greg Moore Legacy Award for the second year in a row. The British driver became the first two-time winner of the award, named for late Canadian driver, who died in 1999.
Robert Doornbos, who finished third in the final point standings, took home a pair of awards Friday night. The Dutch driver received the BBS Hard Charger Award and Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Award. A two-time winner during the season, Doornbos of Minardi Team USA clinched the rookie title in Australia.
Will Power, also a two-time winner during the 2007 season and fourth-place finisher in the final point standings, received the Performance Friction Pass of the Year Award. The Australian driver’s winning pass was on his own Team Australia teammate and came during the race in Mont-Tremblant.
A surprised Simon Pagenaud of Team Australia was chosen by his peers as the Bosch Most Improved Driver. The French driver, who was last year’s Atlantic champion, finished eighth in the final point standings.
PKV Racing was also honored as the overall winner of the Sherwin Williams “It’s All in the Finish” Award.