McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS LOOKS FOR ANOTHER PERFECT WEEKEND IN CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON; HAS WON THE PAST FOUR INAUGURAL EVENTS DATING BACK TO 2003 HOUSTON (May 10, 2006) --- Whether he is trying to clinch a season-long title or win a ...
McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS LOOKS FOR ANOTHER PERFECT WEEKEND IN CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON; HAS WON THE PAST FOUR INAUGURAL EVENTS DATING BACK TO 2003
HOUSTON (May 10, 2006) --- Whether he is trying to clinch a season-long title or win a race, McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais' methodical approach to any race weekend has always been the same -- focus on the here and now. He will continue that same process when he enters this weekend's 115-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston but will do so for the first time as a married man.
He and longtime girlfriend Claire Ragot exchanged wedding vows last Saturday, May 6 at the Cathedral Saint Julian in their hometown of Le Mans, France. While most newlyweds would be on their honeymoon, he is set to return to another love -- that of racing -- and take on the 2006 title fight one race at a time.
"The race will only be a few days after the wedding so hopefully it's going to bring me good luck," said Bourdais, who recently held the Number One spot on Speed TV's weekly driver ranking, and became the first non-Formula One driver to hold the position since the poll began one year ago. "I toured the area in April before the Long Beach race and the complex is exceptional. The set up is going to be perfect for us."
This approach has served him well since he joined the series in 2003. In 46 races, he has amassed 17 wins to earn a win percentage of 37 percent. His 19 poles in 46 events equal an even more impressive average of 41.3 percent. Another statistic should have him looking forward to the inaugural event on the 1.6-mile, 10-turn course around the Reliant Park complex.In the four times the series has ventured to new venues over the last three seasons, Bourdais has emerged victorious. His wins in Brands Hatch in 2003, Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2004 and Edmonton and San Jose in '05 speak not only to the talent of Bourdais but also to the meticulous pre-race preparation of Newman/Haas Racing. In addition to the 1.6 mile, 10-turn Houston track being new, the series will also race on a street course at night for the first time and Bourdais is excited about the prospect.
"I think night racing is exciting and obviously in Houston it's going to be warm enough that people might like it a lot better and we should too," said Bourdais, who is no stranger to hot and humid climates as a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida. "It will be the premiere of our first street race under the lights and I'm fully confident it's going to be just as much lighting as the day because I've seen the setup. They're going to have big additional lights like we had in Milwaukee (2004) so the complex is very well lit and visibility shouldn't be a problem. It's going to be a great atmosphere and everybody tends to party a little bit more when it's nighttime so it should be cool. Hopefully the McDonald's team will have something to celebrate after the race is over and we can join them."
In Round 1 of 15 in Long Beach Bourdais earned every point available after setting the fastest lap times in both qualifying sessions, leading the race, and setting the fastest race lap en route to a win from pole. He holds a mere eight point advantage over second place Justin Wilson and 10 over third place Alex Tagliani and regardless of the outcome on Saturday night in Houston is confident that the field will appreciate the effort the promoter is putting in to make this one of the best street courses in the United States.
"Obviously it's 'concrete racing' and there are definitely a lot of small bumps and everything but they've been cutting the pavement and putting some new concrete in the corners so it's going to be bumpy on the straight and under braking but the corners should be pretty good," said Bourdais. "I'm confident that the organization is going to do a great job; they were hands on when I went there in April. They had tons of people working on the track and it should be a great venue and it looks like the population in Houston is really excited about the race and I can't wait to get there. It should be very much like Denver which, these days is a reference point for street racing and I'm looking forward to it."
Although taking the season one race at a time, a win in this weekend's Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston would bring him one step closer to becoming the first to earn three consecutive open wheel racing titles since Ted Horn accomplished the feat from 1946-1948 as well as be a nice wedding present.
The Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston will get underway with first-round qualifying Thursday at 8:15 p.m. Central Time. The final grid will be set with Friday qualifying at 4:00 p.m. Central Time with the race set to take the green flag at 8 p.m. on Saturday night. Fans can watch all the highlights from Bridgestone Pole Position qualifying on a 30-minute SPEED broadcast beginning at midnight Eastern Time Saturday morning while the race will be shown live on SPEED beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern.