Sebastien Bourdais looking forward to Toronto race
Sebastien Bourdais drove his motor home from St. Petersburg, Fla., to the Indianapolis 500 last month, before getting in his No. 7 Dallara Chevrolet and competing in the race.
When the Honda Indy kicks off in Toronto two weeks from now, he'll be doing the same.
Stopping for races in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Pocono, Pa., along the way, the man who drives for a living doesn't mind the long trek. His family, who'll meet him in Rochester, N.Y., before heading on the open road with Bourdais for the next few weeks, doesn't seem to mind either.
"Road trip!" Bourdais exclaimed with a laugh. "It's fun. We've got bunk beds in there and the kids love it."
Regardless of how he gets to Toronto, Bourdais is looking forward to his arrival. For the native of Le Mans, France, this year's Honda Indy will mark his eighth time competing in the event.
"It's one of these historic races that the fans are very knowledgeable about and it's a track that we as drivers are always looking forward to," Bourdais said in a phone interview from St. Petersburg. "It's a cool place to come and race — the track is awesome, the fans are great, and they come year after year.
"That really makes it special for us."
Bourdais has placed in the Top 10 at the Toronto race six times, but missed that mark for the first time last year when he finished 14th.
He won the Toronto Indy in 2004, a year that kicked off the best IndyCar seasons of his career. Between 2004 and 2007, the Frenchman won four consecutive Champ Car World Series, all while racing with the Newman/Haas team.
Since then, however, his IndyCar trophy case has been bare as he toils with Dragon Racing, a less established team.
"It was very different times," Bourdais said of his dominant years. "I was with a championship-winning team and it was normal to win with Newman/Haas.
"Now, being the underdog is a completely different situation. We're trying to do the best we can but it's been a little more challenging than we'd like. We're working at it, but it definitely hasn't been going the way we want it to so far."
Bourdais left IndyCar after the 2007 season to focus on his dream of racing Formula One cars. He returned to the Indy circuit in 2011, but hasn't participated in a full season until now.
No longer racing for Newman/Haas, Bourdais is finding his return to the sport challenging.
"You're only as good as your car is and you can't do it on your own," he said. "I knew it was going to be a challenge but I basically just wanted to have fun again and I'm doing that.
"Obviously the fun level would be a little higher if we could be more competitive but it's the cars I want to drive and the ones I really enjoy. As long as your passion is your job, you're doing all right."
Bourdais is currently ranked 21st in the Indy standings with 133 points. Brazil's Helio Castroneves, racing for Team Penske, ranks first with 332 points.
With the season past its half-way point, Bourdais has a lot of catching up to do.
His 14th-place finish in last Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 led Dragon Racing to release engineer Neil Fife, who had worked with Bourdais since 2011. Newcomer Tom Brown has not worked with Bourdais before.
"The team thought it was best to try something different so here we are. We'll get on with a new engineer and try to get something going for us," Bourdais said. "Changing engineers halfway through the year is always tough, but we'll do the best we can because that's all we can do."
In Toronto, Bourdais will be competing against the top drivers in the world, including 26-year-old James Hinchcliffe. The Oakville, Ont., native has made a name for himself over the past two seasons, winning the rookie of the year award in 2011 with Bourdais' former team Newman/Haas, and the most popular driver award in 2012 with Andretti Autosport.
Hinchcliffe jumped from ninth to fourth in the standings with his victory in the Iowa 250. Working with Craig Hampson, Bourdais' former engineer from his Newman/Haas victory days, Hinchcliffe has 266 points and three IndyCar victories this season.
Bourdais, 34, was around Hinchcliffe's age when he won the Toronto Indy. The veteran says he's been impressed with the young driver so far.
"James has really shown everyone he has what it takes," Bourdais said. "Last year, stepping into the Andretti Autosport organization, it's one of these things where you can't do it without a good team and he certainly found a great organization...
"He's got everything — he's very aggressive, he doesn't make many mistakes and he's a really nice guy. I think he could have a very bright future." Yahoo News