Jan 27, 2014
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Bisecting the state via I-4 in his motorhome, Sebastien Bourdais scanned the flurry of congratulatory text messages and emails received on his mobile phone after co-driving to the overall victory in the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"It can be a long trip when you don't get a good result or the car retires early in the race, but the time went quickly," Bourdais said of the jaunt from Daytona International Speedway to his home in St. Pete. "It was a great feeling, and I appreciate all the messages."
Exactly 24 hours later -- before settling in for a long winter's nap -- Bourdais participated in an event to promote the IndyCar Series' season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 30. Bourdais became the fourth IndyCar Series driver to win the endurance race on the 3.56-mile circuit in as many years.
So, will he wear the classic timepiece presented to the endurance race winners?
"I'm thinking about that; it could either way," Bourdais said. "Either I wear it or put it on display to remind myself that we actually did win that race."
After being relieved by Joao Barbosa for the final 60 minutes in the Action Express Prototype, the television cameras zeroed in on Bourdais watching the charge to victory with his daughters on the timing stand. The families of Barbosa and co-driver Christian Fittipaldi also joined the congregation.
"I saw them coming and thought, 'Come on; the more the merrier.' It shows the human aspect," Bourdais said. "It's business, it's very professional, but at the end of the day it's the people who make it what it is or there is no one to share it with. They were there when I finally got my podium in Toronto, and that was very special."
Winning the INDYCAR race in his adopted hometown also would be special. It will be the 10th IndyCar Series race on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. Bourdais earned the pole for the race in 2003 when it was the first round of the Champ Car season, and said he has some "unfinished business" on the circuit. He'll be competing in the Chevrolet-powered No. 11 KVSH Racing car following two seasons with Dragon Racing, where he closed 2013 with four top-10 finishes in the final five races.
Bourdais said he doesn't put stock in momentum carried from one season to another, but the bright spots to close 2013 coupled with kicking off his racing season with a victory might provide sufficient reasons to reassess his position. Impressions derived from offseason testing, which continues Feb. 10 at Auto Club Speedway, are positive.
"For quite some time, it felt like (top results were) not meant to be," he said. "It's not that I was doubting myself, but things just weren't happening. Every time I'd be in a position to have a good result, things would not work out. That was getting pretty frustrating, and all of a sudden last year it started to click and I got three podiums and the last race we were right in the mix and it just seems like there's going to be some good times again.
"I don't say there is momentum or this or that, but I do feel like it's sometimes meant to be or not meant to be. I sure hope that this year is meant to be a good one. (With KVSH) it just feels like there's everything you need to perform. So fingers crossed."