Sébastien Bourdais admits that whilst he is facing an extremely busy schedule in 2009, with a second consecutive season in Formula 1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso allied to a Le Mans comeback with Peugeot, his dual challenge is 'far from unachievable' and he has 'done worse in the past'.
The Frenchman – who pipped Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato to the second seat at Red Bull's 'junior' outfit – will dovetail his F1 duties with a return to his roots with Peugeot, by competing in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time since 2007, when he finished second for the Lion in the race dubbed the toughest in the world to win.
As a prelude to that, the 29-year-old will form part of the French manufacturer's assault on the Sebring 12 Hours in Florida next month – just a week before he takes to the track for the 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. It may be tight, but it is nothing, he insists, he cannot handle.
“Until Le Mans I'll be extremely busy,” Bourdais mused, speaking exclusively to Crash.net
, “but it's far from being unachievable. I've done worse than this in the past.
“Inside of me I have a box for Formula 1 and a box for endurance racing – the two never get tangled up.”
The record-breaking, multiple former Champ Car king also acknowledged the stern challenge that will be posed by the legendary, round-the-clock La Sarthe classic, a race Peugeot has
to win in 2009 after coming along with the fastest car for the past two years, only to be beaten by arch-rival Audi on both occasions.
Bourdais is confident that all the experience the team has gained and the lessons it has learned from those defeats will prove to be vital this time around – as will the Sebring 'warm-up' – and he is hopeful that it will be a case of third time lucky for Peugeot and sixth time lucky for himself on what is, quite literally, home turf.
“I was born and grew up in Le Mans,” explained the erstwhile International F3000 Champion, “so on a sentimental level it's my favourite race. Every race in which Peugeot will participate before Le Mans will be an excellent test in terms of scale and nature.
“Sebring is an atypical track where both the heat and surface are harsh on the cars. The American races also enable us to work a lot on race strategies. That makes them a very good exercise for all involved – drivers, mechanics, engineers and cars.
“As in every competition there are challenges. That of Le Mans is an endurance challenge in which the cars and drivers must remain consistent, quick and reliable over a long distance and in the face of fatigue, racing at night and the differences in performance between the LMP cars and the GTs. It is, of course, a mythical race which every competitor dreams of adding to their racing CV.”