The state of Florida has been more than generous with one of its adopted sons, and if Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's Sebastien Bourdais can win his class this weekend at Sebring, the Frenchman could complete an unbelievable hat trick.
In the span of 42 days, Bourdais became a class winner in January's Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Ganassi Ford team and backed it up with a win on Sunday in his hometown of St. Petersburg as his Dale Coyne Racing Honda team slayed IndyCar's giants at its season opener. If he can steer the No. 66 Ford GT into Victory Lane Saturday night with teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Muller, it would cap an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime string of success for the 38-year-old veteran.
Ford 66 LAT"I don't see any problem with that!" he told RACER. "I'm not going to spit on anything that comes my way. Life is far too short and racing is far too hard to give up on any big ones like that. We stand a chance at Sebring."
Coming off a strong test for the FCGR team at Sebring, Bourdais says he and his teammates could add 12 more hours of endurance racing victory to what they earned as the GTE-Pro class winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June and the 24 hours they recently captured at Daytona.
"Obviously, the car was really, really good at the test," he added. "I think we did a really good job. Everybody was really happy the way the car in the way it was responding. The feedback was exactly the same from the three of us, which is the second time that happened after Daytona. That is rare enough.
"It bodes well I think, and if unexpected stuff doesn't start to happen, we have a shot. Then obviously, the race is so competitive. That is why it is almost so surprising that we got [24-hour] wins in that short period of time both at Le Mans and Daytona, because there were a lot of things that could have stopped us from doing that. I've got two great teammates, but sometimes racing is cruel. You don't always get the shot that you deserve."
One of the benefits of moonlighting with the Ganassi team for Bourdais has been the opportunity to work with fellow four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon. With Bourdais' mastery of Champ Car in the 2000s taking place while Dixon was on his own tear in the IndyCar Series, the two didn't start to cross paths on a regular basis until Bourdais landed in IndyCar in 2011. Although the New Zealander is currently positioned as a rival in open wheel, the two have become friends while driving Fords for Ganassi at the long races.
Bourdais Dixon Indycar st pete podium lat"I think the world of Scott," said Bourdais, who shared the St. Pete podium with Dixon. "He is, as far as I'm concerned, probably the most versatile and one of the very, very best there has ever been. It is funny because we have been orbiting around each other a little bit over the years. We had a shootout together for a Formula 3000 seat and he was already quick as hell.
"Obviously, he's had the career that he has had. And the real first time that we interacted around each other to see what we were both doing, it is in the Ford. It is not exactly our kind of car or our element but we can still see what we were doing comparing to each other and then I can definitely say that didn't tame my respect for his abilities."