Bourdais' grand entrance

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 03/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

IndyCar star Sebastien Bourdais arrived at the Walkinshaw Racing test day in style, helicoptered in with team boss Charlie Schwerkolt before cutting his first laps.

Bourdais had only just touched down from the US, and was surprised by the team boss who made quick work of what is usually a three-hour drive, to have his co-driver at the track promptly to get behind the wheel.

The 36-year old racer pairs with Lee Holdsworth across the Pirtek Enduro Cup and had his first taste of a Walkinshaw Racing Holden Commodore today.

While the first endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst will be new for the Frenchman, he competed as an international co-driver at the Gold Coast between 2010-12, with Jonathon Webb and Dick Johnson Racing for the first year, then with Jamie Whincup and Triple Eight. He and Whincup won two races in those two years.

Today was his first opportunity to drive the new generation V8 Supercar, but Bourdais was comfortable immediately and looks forward to more laps this afternoon before his debut at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 next Friday.

"It's a bit of a distant memory, last time in 2012 - but it doesn't feel very, very different from my recollection," Bourdais told of the car.

"Different setup, different cars, different track ... it's still fun, just a matter of getting back into the groove, finding the right sequence and getting to know the guys.

"I'm starting to work with Lee and Alex [Somerset, engineer] and trying to piece it all together and be ready for Sandown."

The team - which has four cars on track today, with two Holden Racing Team and the Supercheap Auto Commodores within the stable - is balancing development and co-driver miles throughout the day, as it looks to improve its qualifying pace.

"[They are doing] a few runs to readjust the car and ... work on the setup of the car to validate the direction they went towards in the last few races, and then I think at the end of the day I'll be doing a couple of long runs," Bourdais said.

He will spend the week in Australia ahead of Friday's Sandown start, and while he has not yet driven the 3.1km circuit, Bourdais has been studying up.

"I've got videos and I've watched the race on TV a couple of times as well so I've got a pretty good idea of what the track looks like. I've never run on it but ... we'll see once we get to it a little closer."

Meanwhile team boss Schwerkolt is pleased to have Bourdais in the car, and has a good feeling about the upcoming enduros.

"Sebastien is a real racer - he's pretty laid back and chilled about things at the moment," Schwerkolt said.

"He might be a bit tired after his big flight, but he's pretty relaxed about the whole thing. He's getting used to the feel of the team and the car, after coming from last weekend's IndyCar [race in Sonoma].

"He's great and Lee's pretty excited to have his enduro driver here."

Holdsworth equalled his season best result in Sydney at the last round, finishing seventh on Saturday, and Schwerkolt is positive there's more to come across these long distance races.

"As you know it's a confidence game, and Lee's a lot more confident with the car," Schwerkolt said.

"He's feeling good about it, the car's got speed, which is good - so I think we're in for a shot at the enduros for sure. A bit of a dark horse, I think."

The car debuted Preston Hire colours on track today, the striking livery set to run at Sandown.

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