LONG BEACH, California – Sebastien Bourdais has no time to lose this weekend at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. He has been called in to substitute for Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT driver Joey Hand in Saturday’s BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach IMSA race.
The 40-year-old Bourdais will also compete in all NTT IndyCar Series practice, qualifications and the race in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.
“I’m definitely going to be very busy,” Bourdais told NBC Sports.com Thursday at Long Beach. “I’m not much of a nap guy anyway.”
Bourdais will co-drive the No. 66 Ford GT with Dirk Mueller on Saturday. Bourdais also drove with Hand and Mueller in the first two races of the IMSA season, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. In the latter, they earned a second-place finish in the GT Le Mans class.
“I like it; it’s something I enjoy doing,” Bourdais said. “I’ve never driven anything other than a Champ Car or Indy car here so it will be interesting to discover something new. I’m never too old to discover new things.
“I just needed to get Dale Coyne’s approval and he said, fine.”
According to Chip Ganassi Racing, Hand has “flu-like symptoms.” Bourdais drives for Ganassi’s IMSA team in the long endurance races on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Although we’re disappointed for Joey, we’re also fortunate to have someone like Sebastien who can step right in this weekend,” said Ford motorsport boss Mark Rushbrook. “We’re grateful Dale Coyne Racing will allow him to do double-duty with the IndyCar race this weekend. Seb already has so many miles in the Ford GT, and knows the team and crew so well, that it’s the perfect solution.”
It will be a busy weekend as Bourdais will be the only driver competing in both major races at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Qualifying for the IMSA race is Friday afternoon after INDYCAR has two practice sessions. IMSA also has a 45-minute practice.
The 100-minute BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix begins at 2:06PM (Pacific Time) on Saturday, immediately after Bourdais competes in the knockout qualifying format INDYCAR uses on road and street courses.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Bourdais said. “I like to be busy. I don’t need rest. I’m looking forward to the challenge and helping those guys out. I’m really sad for Joey. It’s a race that counts for him and that’s loss of points. Hopefully, we can cheer him up a little bit.
“All I can do is drive the wheels off the thing here at Long Beach.”
Bourdais is a three-time winner at Long Beach during his first tenure as an IndyCar driver back in Champ Car. He won from 2005-2007 when he was with Newman-Haas Racing.