LONG BEACH, California — Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande staged an impressive rally, making up a gap of 21 seconds to top the IMSA results for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Bourdais started on the pole position in the No. 01 Cadillac after setting a track qualifying record with a 1-minute, 9.472-second lap to earn the DPi pole for the second consecutive race in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series.
But just as in the Twelve Hours of Sebring last month (where the car also finished last in class for the second consecutive race), the Chip Ganassi Racing driver encountered early trouble when he nosed into the Turn 11 tire barrier on the sixth lap, handing the lead to teammate Alex Lynn.
Over the next 24 laps, Bourdais made up a 21-second deficit to reclaim the lead from Lynn.
“The car was so fast,” Bourdais told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “I guess I went down the inside of the hairpin, and it just simply didn’t turn. From there, you get the gap — 21 seconds down to the leader — and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s going to be a tall order.’ That car was so amazing, I just managed to bring it back, do the fuel number and couldn’t be any prouder of the whole team.”
During the race after exiting the car, Bourdais told Snider that he drove so hard, “you kind of go into a bit of a trance when you try to pull off something that really shouldn’t be possible
“You’re on fire because you’re so mad at yourself. I guess I’m accustomed to stupid mistakes and trying to make up for that. Luckily, there wasn’t much damage and I’m just glad we got the lead back.”
Though he joked that Bourdais has messed up by putting the car in the wall, van der Zande watched in awe during his teammate’s charge. On Lap 16, Bourdais broke the track record for the DPi category with a lap of 1:10.317 on Lap 16 in carving his way through the field.
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“I think the words of the day are don’t make a Frenchman angry,” van der Zande said. “Sebastien drove it back to the front. He put it in the wall there and then he moved it up the order and gave it to me in the lead. Amazing job by Sebastien, and I just had to drive it home. We had a fantastic car.”
It was the first IMSA victory at Long Beach for both Bourdais and van der Zande and the third for Chip Ganassi Racing, which earned its 62nd victory in the sports car series.
Lynn and Earl Bamber finished second in Ganassi’s No. 02 Cadillac, and No. 5 JDC Miller MotorSports co-drivers Tristan Vautier and Richard Westbrook made it a podium sweep for Cadillac.
A rundown of winners in other categories:
The No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 earned the first Long Beach victory for the Heart of Racing team, which scored its fourth career victory.
It also was the first Long Beach win for co-drivers Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas.
The No. 1 BMW M4 GT3 of Paul Miller Racing earned its ninth career victory with co-drivers Bryan Sellers (second Long Beach victory, 13th career) and Madison Snow (eighth win, second at Long Beach).
STATS PACKAGE FOR IMSA ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH:
NEXT: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will resume with the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at Laguna Seca Raceway, April 29-May 1.