DETROIT — Mix IndyCars with rain and cold, shake them up with a few crashes, and the result was a vintage Sebastien Bourdais victory on Sunday.
Once the king of the fading CART/Champ Car series in the mid-2000s, the 36-year-old Frenchman rose from ninth at the start to win the second race of the weekend’s IndyCar doubleheader, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
Bourdais held off Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal on what turned out to be a three-lap sprint to the finish on a restart after a red-flag period to earn his 33rd series victory, but just his second since returning to IndyCar in 2011.
“It feels pretty nice to be up there … I couldn’t be any happier,” Bourdais said after stepping off the podium.
He had Sato in his mirrors headed toward that last restart, knowing there would be just three laps left in what turned out to be a 68-lap race, which turned into a two-hour timed event because of the seven caution periods brought on by crashes that slowed the pace severely. He also knew Sato’s aggressive mindset.
“I know that Takuma has on his dash (board), ‘No attack, no chance,'” Bourdais said. “So you know what you’re up against.”
But Bourdais’ approach was pretty much the same.
“He was not going to go by,” Bourdais said. “Pretty straightforward: Go big or go home.”
Slowing just before the break for the starting point was a technique Bourdais had used earlier in the race to stay in front, and it worked again.
“I really disagree with his restart techniques,” Sato said. So as it turned out, “I had one chance on the back straight as we came to the white flag (on the next-to-last lap) … but it was too risky, and obviously, he held his line really well.”
As for holding his line, that’s what Rahal thought he was doing after a restart on Lap 58 when, running third at the time behind Bourdais and Juan Pablo Montoya, he held Sato at bay. But after a quick review, race officials told Rahal to give up the position. Montoya, running low on fuel, faded to 10th, but Rahal couldn’t get past Sato for second in the last three laps.
“I was pretty disappointed in the penalty. I don’t think it was deserved,” said Rahal, who added he would like to see three former drivers in the review stand to determine such calls.
But overall, after his fourth top-five finish in the past five races, “I’m very proud of this team,” Rahal said.
He moved up one spot to fourth in the standings at the halfway point of the season.
IRL Dual in Detroit Race 2
Sunday’s results at Belle Isle Park; Detroit
1. Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevrolet, 68, running; 2. Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 3. Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 4. Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 5. Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 6. Conor Daly, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 7. Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 8. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 9. Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda, 68, running; 10. Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevrolet, 68, running; 11. Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevrolet, 68, running; 12. Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevrolet, 68, running; 13. Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 68, running; 14. Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevrolet, 68, running; 15. James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 67, running; 16. Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevrolet, 67, running; 17. Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevrolet, 66, running; 18. Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 64, contact; 19. Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 64, contact; 20. Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevrolet, 58, contact; 21. Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevrolet, 49, contact; 22. Rodolfo Gonzalez, Dallara-Honda, 35, contact; 23. Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 5, mechanical.
Winners average speed: 79.476. Time of Race: 2:38.43. Margin of Victory: 1.7644 seconds. Cautions: 6 for 17 laps. Lead Changes: 5 among 5 drivers. ___
This article was written by Tim May from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.