File this one in the long overdue department, but Sebastien Bourdais has a 24-hour race victory at long last.
The Frenchman has famously come close but no cigar at his home race at Le Mans, and now has his first win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in five attempts.
“I’ve been chasing Le Mans… so I came here,” Bourdais joked in the post-race press conference.
But he was more reflective in victory lane.
“It’s just as big as it gets, you know,” he said after his drive with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. “It’s one of those historic races that you just want to put on your resume. It’s done today, and it was done fighting hard for it, and it really feels good for the entire Team Chevy and everybody because we went and grabbed this one.”
Bourdais also makes it four straight years that a current IndyCar driver has been part of the winning lineup at the Rolex 24.
Graham Rahal (2011), Justin Wilson (2012) and Charlie Kimball (2013) have been part of the lineup the last three years.
SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.
SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.
Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.
The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.
SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.
Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.