IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Sebastien Bourdais

AP
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the field of driver-by-driver reviews following the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Winning twice and finishing 10th in points this year was KVSH Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 10th Place, 1 Win, 2 Poles, 2 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 98 Laps Led, 9.8 Avg. Start, 11.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 10th Place, 2 Wins, Best Start 3rd, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 145 Laps Led, 9.9. Avg. Start, 10.9 Avg. Finish

The story remained the same a bit for Sebastien Bourdais, who for another IndyCar season enjoyed some consistency within his side of his team, while having yet another new teammate who failed to add too much to the overall picture.

Like Josef Newgarden at CFH Racing, Bourdais was consistently a thorn in the side of the more established “big teams” of Penske and Ganassi. Both drivers had four Firestone Fast Six appearances – most outside of those two teams – and Bourdais’ qualifying average was just less than Newgarden’s over the season.

It spoke volumes that he was frustrated with low-level top-10 finishes, which seemed to be frequent throughout the year. Bourdais banked eight top-10s from 16 starts, but his only podiums were his two wins, courtesy of saving fuel in Detroit race two and his utter crushing of the competition in Milwaukee.

Where Bourdais could afford to have feel results went begging were NOLA, where he was part of the three-way, late-race incident between he, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud, and then both Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, where he was caught out on untimely yellows from top-six positions. The bigger ovals, Texas, Fontana and Pocono, saw Bourdais and KVSH not at the sharp end of the field, and that was something of a surprise.

While not confirmed back yet with the team co-owned by Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser and rising ownership star James “Sulli” Sullivan, it’s been obvious in Bourdais’ two seasons with the team that he’s their guy, and the balance of power is well spread having him there as team leader.

One of his other highlights this year was a heroic effort at the 12 Hours of Sebring, which he co-drove with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi to win there. He remains firmly at the top of his game and just needs greater consistency to turn his undoubted speed into at least one more championship charge.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.