Sebastien Bourdais’ debut with KVSH Racing, in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, didn’t bear the fruits of success he or his new team so desired.
Bourdais’ striking black-and-green No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet seemingly had a target on its back, as the “bespectacled badass” was hit like a piñata during the race after starting from an unlucky 13th – the same place he finished.
“It was a tough race. Guys from back of the grid ruined the start of the race and I lost four positions on the first lap. I also bumped into Juan Pablo Montoya when the field checked up in Turn 8,” Bourdais said of the start of his race.
He was also forced off sequence when he needed to pit on Lap 12 to replace his front wing, and needed to save fuel for the rest of the race.
The problem was exacerbated as when he was due to make his third stop, he had to stay out as a caution flew.
“When I finally pitted I was out of fuel and the car stalled, but we were still in a good position and I knew I had a fast car,” he said. “Then I was penalized for not packing up fast enough, which was pretty rough because I was packed up before the pits opened and no one was harmed.”
Bourdais praised his new crew and the car’s pace, which he deemed a “rocketship.”
“That really set us back, but we kept digging,” he said. “It was such a valiant effort by the whole team and to finish where we started is very frustrating. I really feel bad for the guys because they worked so hard and for all our sponsors who came to the race and supported us. The only positive note is that we have a fast car so our time will come.”
Bourdais has three past wins at the next round of the championship in Long Beach, all in succession from 2005 through 2007 while driving for Newman/Haas Racing in the Champ Car World Series. He has finished 17th and 15th at Long Beach the last two years driving for Dragon Racing.