Bourdais waging his personal Ford vs Ferrari battle at Le Mans
Of all of the victories Sebastien Bourdais has earned in motor racing, standing atop his hometown podium in 2016 as the category winner with Ford’s No. 68 GT entry charges amongst his biggest achievements.
Together with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Muller, Bourdais capped a triumphant return for the Blue Oval at Le Mans by profitable on the fiftieth anniversary of the model’s 1966 win over Ferrari that was lately immortalized with a characteristic movie.
Including to the glory of bringing Ford again to victory lane at Circuit de la Sarthe, Bourdais has new marching orders — this time from the opposite facet of the legendary battle traces — representing the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE EVO program this weekend at Le Mans.
Tasked with profitable the GTE-Professional class within the No. 82 entry, Bourdais hopes to earn the excellence of delivering for Ford and Ferrari on the world’s biggest endurance race.
“Clearly, the thought has positively crossed my thoughts,” he informed RACER. “It’s some nice honor, clearly, to have the ability to race for legacies in that grand race that all of us love. So, I used to be lucky sufficient to be with the fortunate ones and within the fortunate automobile that gained the race in 2016 with Dirk and Joey. All of us knew how a lot it meant to the Ford household to be there and get it finished.
“I feel we knew it going into the occasion, however when the Ford household arrived on the circuit, it was a 100,000,000% clearer why they got here again and why they had been there! And it was for one and one motive solely — it was profitable. So, strain was positively the very best I’d ever skilled at Le Mans and for a lot of totally different causes. As a result of clearly you’re going into the race and the automobile has by no means actually accomplished a 24-hour simulation. It’s a brand-new automobile. No person actually is aware of what he’s getting himself into apart from the automobile is diabolically quick. And also you’re going to have a battle in your arms with Ferrari, 50 years to the day, and that was fairly superior.”
Ford’s withdrawal from worldwide GT racing on the finish of the 2019 season left Bourdais to discover a new workforce for the occasion, and with an all-French squad being assembled by Risi with co-drivers Olivier Pla and Jules Gounon, an opportunity to compete within the twin-turbo V8-powered 488 was supplied by the Houston-based outfit.
“And so for me to be a bit on the opposite facet this yr, clearly Ford just isn’t right here anymore, it’s very attention-grabbing to now drive a Ferrari, the automobile that we had been preventing in 2016,” he mentioned. “To see how a lot totally different it drives — and that’s whenever you actually understand how a lot of a prototype the Ford GT was. As a result of this Ferrari actually appears like a GT; it’s a lot softer. It has a way more roll and rather more physique motion — like an actual GT. I by no means had that really feel with the Ford. So coming again now, and being on the opposite facet, it will be incredible to have the ability to snatch one for and with Ferrari. However there’s a variety of work that has to occur between at times.”
The profitable Ford trio from 2016 was shielded from an intense tug-of-war that happened behind the scenes between the management teams at Ganassi and Risi. As each lobbied for the race director to levy penalties in one another’s camp for varied infractions, and personal negotiations performed out that led to the Risi Ferrari workforce holding station in second place because the No. 68 Ford captured the victory, one of many drivers who delivered heartbreak for Giuseppe Risi’s workforce finds himself ready to heal the injuries.
“Oh yeah, you had been on one facet, and now you hear about how bitter clearly it’s right here, from you being on the surface and getting it finished and stealing it from them,” he mentioned. “So, it will be nice to shut the loop to appropriate that historical past and get the job finished for Mr. Risi.”