After seven years of competing in US open wheel racing, including two attempts at the famous Indy 500 race, Sebastien Bourdais finally found success at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, behind the wheel of a Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series car.
Bourdais was sharing stewardship of the #2 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley Daytona Prototype with Venezuela's Alex Popow, and drove the last stint of the race which included a late pit stop for fuel-only that helped vault him past his Starworks team mate Ryan Dalziel for the lead on lap 74 of 91.
Bourdais still had to survive two late restarts, while the race ultimately ended up finishing under caution after two Porsches driven by Leh Keen and Joerg Bergmeister clashed with five minutes left to run in the event.
"The last restart was challenging," said Bourdais of his battle with with #10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP in the hands of Ricky Taylor. "He braked really, really late, and so did I. I nearly didn't make the corner!"
The race also saw some very tricky conditions for his co-driver Popow, who had to keep the Starworks car on track in a period that saw two heavy rainstorms sweep over Indianapolis early in the three-hour running time.
"It's amazing, sitting here in first place at the Brickyard," said Popow, adding that "It's like a dream come true." He also gave special thanks to his experienced co-driver: "A great job and an incredible drive. He was amazing. We had the best car and the best driver out there."
Bourdais finished ahead of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley car driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, which limped home looking pretty beaten up after a physical race that saw a lot of contact but still had enough zip left to pull off a late-race move on Taylor for the runners-up spot.
"I think most everything took place," said Pruett. "It rained, we had a tore-up race car - but we managed to scratch back and finish second!"
Ricky Taylor finished third at the end in the #10 car he shared with Max Angelelli, just ahead of the second Ganassi car, the #02 driven by IndyCar's Scott Dixon and NASCAR's Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya raised eyebrows during the race with his aggressive stint that saw him bump the second #8 Starworks car of Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio out of the top five, and also doing the same with the #9 Action Express Racing Corvette shared by Joao Barbosa and Darren Law.