Defending Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg race winner Sebastien Bourdais is confident 2018 could be the season his team puts together a championship challenging run.
St Petersburg resident Bourdais believes the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team can build on their success in 2017. Prior to a season-curtailing shunt during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, Bourdais took victory at his adopted ‘home’ race along with a Long Beach runner-up slot and top-10 at Alabama.
“I am looking forward to the start of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season” said the 4-time ChampCar series winner. “This is a small team, but we have proven we can take poles and win races. However, I think we are now putting together what hopefully is a consistent program that can compete at the highest level and contend for a championship.”
Bourdais is tied on the all-time championship winner list with IndyCar legends Mario Andretti, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Despite the limited resources of the Dale Coyne Racing outfit Bourdais was an early-season title favorite last year.
A championship challenge that turned into a case of ‘what if’ sprang in to life at St Petersburg. The Frenchman came from dead-last to win, claiming the most laps-led along the way and a victory over a decade in the making.
“My first Indy car race was here in 2003 and I took the pole, but until last year I really didn’t have a lot of success. It took 15 years, and now I am the defending champion and that feels good”, explained Bourdais this week.
Success 12 months ago on the temporary street-course around Albert Whitted Airport and Bourdais’ subsequent run of good performances has not left him feeling any particular stress to repeat this weekend. Even with the high expectations he has set for himself in 2018, the 36-time race winner joked: “I don’t feel any additional pressure to do well, but it’s nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and have friends and family at the track.”
The 2018 Firestone Grand Prix race weekend hits the streets of St. Petersburg on Friday, March 9 with opening practice. Qualifying on the 1.8 mile course will run Saturday, March 10 with the 110 lap race starting 12.30pm (ET) Sunday, March 10.