CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES CHAMPION SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS SHINES IN RACE OF CHAMPIONS EVENT IN FRANCE
INDIANAPOLIS (December 5, 2005) -- The term 'off-season' apparently has a different meaning in French than it does in English, as Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has been just as busy after the season as he was during his march to the 2005 Champ Car title.
Coming off a physically-demanding run in the Baja 1000 two weeks ago, Bourdais returned to his native France to compete in the Race of Champions Saturday night. The event pits champions from around the world in equally-prepared cars, where they wage side-by-side warfare on a dirt course in Paris' glittering Stade de France.
Bourdais, who opened the event by taking a demonstration run in his Newman/Haas Racing Champ Car, led his PlayStation France team to a second-place finish in the Nations Cup event, and advanced to the quarterfinals in the individual competition with a resounding victory over Indy Racing League titlist Dan Wheldon.
Bourdais and Dakar Rally specialist Stephane Peterhansel knocked off defending Nations Cup champions and fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb and Jean Alesi in the first round, with Bourdais taking two wins over Alesi. The Champ Car star followed that with two wins over Formula 1 stalwart David Coulthard to carry his team to the final.
"Winning races is the best feeling in the world, especially with the crowd behind you like they are here at the Stade de France," Bourdais said. "I had a problem with the gearbox in the second race against David Coulthard and I could see him catching me, so that was very exciting."
The team fell in the final to the Scandinavian pairing of seven-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and DTM star Mattias Ekstrom, with Bourdais losing his heat to Kristensen by less than a half-second.
"I'm sorry I couldn't win for France tonight. I will just have to wait to try again next year," said Bourdais after his defeat in the Nations Cup final. "It was very difficult for my teammate who is not really in his element on an event like this. But we did well to make it all the way to the final. First we had to beat Alesi and Loeb, and that was close. The challenge is the fact that you have to adapt so quickly to the different cars."
Bourdais hung a 3.6-second margin-of-victory on oval specialist Wheldon in the first round of the individual event before losing by .226 seconds to four-time NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jeff Gordon in the quarterfinals.