IMSA – Sébastien Bourdais : "A nice step up in performance from Daytona to Sebring"

29 Mar. 2023 • 11:15
Sebastien Bourdais, co-driver with Renger van der Zande of the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R in the Grand Touring Prototype class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, met with the media via Zoom conference to preview the April 14-15 race in Long Beach, California.
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Give us your recollections of last year’s eventful race and what you and Renger will try to do to repeat your win.

I have great memories of Long Beach; it’s a place that has been pretty good to me in the past and that I’ve always enjoyed racing at. It was a pretty interesting weekend. It started a bit off in the first practice but then John (Hennek) gave us an awesome car from second practice onward, and I had the best time of the year. The car was just amazing. Our Cadillac DPi was on rails and it started off in qualifying with a new track record and then it was a very unorthodox way to win the race. Just a little mishap going down the side I got caught out a little bit with a GT going into the hairpin and then I figured out too late that the DPi wasn’t the radius maker as the IndyCar was used to and I found myself running out of room and stuffed it in the exit wall. The, obviously, you had to quick reverse and it was early in the race, so had to overcome a 20-second deficit or something like that and pass every single car to make it back to the lead. Nevertheless, that’s how good the car was that day and I managed to pull the win, which was amazing. Just a great weekend and great day for Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing.



What have you learned in the two races how the GTP cars race each other?

It’s a very dynamic interaction because everybody is still working pretty hard on the cars and the BoP is evolving a little bit. I don’t know if there is any change for Long Beach. On our side, there was a nice step up in performance from Daytona to Sebring, which made us feel a bit racy. I don’t know how good we would have been at the end of the race because obviously we were not part of it. But I think Long Beach is quite hard to pass, so track position will be key and a strong qualifying. As far as interaction between the cars, I think it’s been actually a little harder to really follow closely. Those cars seem to rely a lot on the very little downforce that they have, which kind of surprised me a little bit. But we’ve still seen some passes and good shows, so I think it should still be pretty fun to go around the streets.

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Will the Cadillac edge on the streets courses shrink a little bit?

Obviously, 2023 is a big reset. We were very strong all day long in Sebring, but it seemed like both the Porsche and the Acura at the end of the race were better. Our car seemed to be coming alive mid-stint onwards. And it translates pretty well from Sebring to Long Beach. The Cadillac was always labeled as the car to beat at Sebring and street courses. It’s a car that wasn’t super ride-height sensitive. And now we’re seeing cars of a different generation that seem to be conceptually closer together and I don’t think we’ll see the road course monster against the street course monster, where they kind of end of being on completely different spectrums, which made it very difficult for the series to balance as far as performance. I think it will be more open everywhere, and I just hope we’re on the right side of the fence at every event.



Do you have to be more careful with car-to-car contact. Can you race like you did previously?

I think it’s pretty similar to what it used to be. We don’t have much experience knowing what the car can withstand as far as side-to-side contact. You take maybe less risk that flicks and appendixes fly off the car because there are less of them around the GTPs. As far as suspension, I’d say it’s at least as strong as the DPi. There really wasn’t a strong emphasis on putting the ultimate weapon on the tracks since the weight of the car is quite high. I think it’s quite the strong car.



Is the Long Beach hairpin the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the track?

The hairpin is tricky and it’s the slowest corner of the season, so it definitely is its own animal. But when I think about Long Beach I think about Turn 1 more than the hairpin. That’s the place that has the highest approach speed, it’s a tricky braking zone over concrete slabs, it’s bumpy and pretty quick and the room for errors is tiny. I think more about Turn 1 than I do about the hairpin.


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