Four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais hails from Le Mans, come from a family with deep roots in sports car racing, and as the Dragon Racing IndyCar driver told RACER ahead of this weekend's Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis, he'd like nothing more than to fill his plate with a steady diet of driving in the new United SportsCar Racing series.
“Sports car racing has always been a very important thing for me,” he said. “It's something I have done throughout most of my career, even little one-offs if that's all I have time for, but I would definitely like to see what opportunities there are [in the USCR] and if it's a good situation with a good team, jump on it, for sure.”
Bourdais heads into the Brickyard as the defending champion, having won the Grand-Am Rolex Series race for Starworks Motorsports with co-driver Alex Popow (ABOVE), and returns to race on the Indy road course with the new 8Star Corvette Daytona Prototype team and teammate Emilio DiGuida.
Earning a second consecutive win at Indy will be a challenge; Popow is regarded as one of the best Pro-Am drivers in the series while DiGuida is still getting up to speed, but look for a few fireworks when Bourdais is at the controls.
The 34-year-old Frenchman is coming into the Brickyard riding a wave of momentum thanks to earning a pair of podiums at the Toronto IndyCar double-header with the Jay Penske-owned team. Given his relative youth and stature in open-wheel racing, Bourdais could continue in open-wheel for quite some time, but admits that with the constant concern over funding, the relative security of sports car racing can't be overlooked.
“I'd love to drive Indy cars for the next 10 years, but in the meantime, it's very expensive to compete,” he explained. “Even for the little teams, it's hard to find all the money to compete. We've been very lucky to have McAfee and TrueCar on board at Dragon, but every year we analyze the situation and see we go from there.
“Hopefully it works out and we can keep on going — we want to build this little team into a championship-caliber team, but there is no guarantee of anything. For me, as a racecar driver, as a professional, I need to keep the doors open for opportunities. At the end of the day, if I can have a good home in IndyCar or sports cars, that is obviously my goal, but if I can do both, that would be perfect.”
Bourdais has been a part of some rather impressive sports car programs, with the factory Peugeot LMP1 effort serving as the pinnacle of speed and technology he experienced. It might be a surprise to learn that despite being worlds apart in performance and innovation, Bourdais has a soft spot for Daytona Prototypes.
“I really like these cars,” he continued. “I don't know what it is about them; there's nothing outrageous about them, but they are fun to drive. The power down is good, the downforce is good, and it's a lot of joy to be in.
“And the racing is clearly very good. You have to drive at the limit to get the most from them, which makes passing a big challenge because everybody is going full bore all the time and nobody is afraid to rub fenders or bump you around a little. When your car is good, the Daytona Prototypes are a blast.”
A full-time return to the IndyCar Series is likely for Bourdais next year, but he hopes to land in a few different paddocks in 2014.
“There are a lot of things I love in racing — Indy cars, sports cars, V8 Supercars, and I'm always looking for where I might be able to drive,” he said. “Yes, this is my career, my profession, but it's also my passion. I've never been the guy who was satisfied with just one thing, so I guess it's in my nature to look for multiple places to do what I love and drive.”