8Star announced July 17 the signing of inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix winner and four-time Champ Car World Series driver Sebastien Bourdais to drive its No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette DP.
Consecutive runner-up finishes (Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen) moved the No. 3 8Star Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype to seventh place in the 2013 Rolex Grand-Am Series team point standings.
The Stephane Sarrazin/Michael Valiante/Enzo Potolicchio team led 44 of 171 laps at June 29 at Watkins Glen and, despite serving a 60-second penalty on lap 116, finished just 0.265-of-a-second behind the winning car, the second smallest margin of victory ever in a six-hour Daytona Prototype race at Watkins Glen.
Bourdais has made eight DP starts since 2005, including four Rolex 24 at Daytona races (2005-06, 2010, 2013) and this past June 29 at Watkins Glen (N.Y) International. The Le Mans, France, native also competes fulltime in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series and has 34 series starts since 2005, including second- and third-place finishes in last weekend’s IndyCar Series doubleheader in Toronto.
Bourdais earned 31 Champ Car victories, 44 podium finishes, and 31 pole positions in 73 starts from 2003-2007, and was named series rookie of the year in 2003. He has made 10 starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, garnering three runner-up finishes (2007, 2009, and 2011) in the LMP1 class, co-driving with 8Star Motorsports teammate Stephane Sarrazin in 2007 and 2009.
Bourdais competed in 27 Formula One races for Toro Rosso in 2008-09 and has two V8 Supercar victories to his credit, both at Surfer’s Paradise in Queensland, Australia, first in 2011 and again in 2012.
Michael Valiante, who has earned runner-up finishes in the two races he’s driven 8Star’s N, has signed a contract to remain in the seat of the No. 3 Corvette DP for the balance of the 2013 Rolex GRAND-AM Series season.
The 8Star team conducted two days of testing, July 18-19, at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida, in preparation for the Brickyard Grand Prix and to further develop its overall Grand-Am DP program. Drivers Michael Valiante, Sebastien Bourdais and Emilio DiGuida all logged extensive time behind the wheel on the 2.043-mile, 11-turn road course during the team’s second-only test session.
In last year’s inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix, Sebastien Bourdais co-drove to the victory and Enzo Potolicchio finished seventh in the Daytona Prototype class of the Grand-Am Series race while Michael Valiante finished 32nd in the ST class of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Practices are Thursday, July 25, from 11:30 a.m. -12:55 p.m. and 2:10 – 3:05 p.m. Qualifying is Thursday, July 25, from 4:35-4:50 p.m. Green flag for the three-hour race is scheduled for Friday, July 26, at 5:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Michael Valiante: “I’ve tested at Indy in a DP car but didn’t race there last year (he did run in ST class of Continental Tire Sports Car Championship). It’s a great track and facility so I’m really looking forward to racing there this year. We have a good roll going at 8Star and look forward to continuing it at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
“The Palm Beach test went really well. We took a great car in high downforce configuration and learned a lot but still have some work to do on the low downforce configuration. I definitely think we made some gains and I’m looking forward to see how we stack up against everyone else at Indy.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “There’s a lot of very good and talented people at 8Star and I’m happy to be involved. The No. 3 car has been pretty racy the last couple of races and the No. 4 is pretty much the same car so I’m pretty excited about the prospects to drive for a new team that’s sorting itself out pretty quickly.
Emilio is a good gentleman driver and, given the format of the series, it’s always an opening for a good result for an amateur and a pro. Stephane (Sarrazin, driver of 8Star Motorsports’ No. 3 Corvette DP) and I were teammates at Le Mans in 2007 and 2009, and in different team cars after that, so I know him pretty well. He’s a very quick driver so it will be good to reunite with him on the team".
“I’m very much looking forward to racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, obviously, having won last year’s inaugural Grand-Am race there. Indy is a pretty cool event and a cool track. I’m thankful to Jay Penske for allowing me to combine this with my IndyCar program with Dragon Racing. I’m a Chevrolet driver in the IndyCar Series so it’s great to be driving a Corvette DP in the Grand-Am Series.”
Emilio DiGuida: “It will be my first time to race at Indy so I feel very happy to have Sebastien Bourdais, who won the first (GRAND-AM) race there, as my teammate. I learned a lot during the test last week at Palm Beach. We worked on the suspension quite a bit and got better and better.”