INDYCAR: 'It was pretty sketchy' - Bourdais

INDYCAR: 'It was pretty sketchy' - Bourdais

IndyCar

INDYCAR: 'It was pretty sketchy' - Bourdais

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Although he declared earlier this week that he considers Road America “the best track in the U.S.,” Sebastien Bourdais found the Wisconsin road course a bit of a handful in opening practice, his KVSH Racing Hydroxycut Dallara-Chevrolet struggling for grip as he skated to 15th. The Frenchman – winner of the last Indy car race at Road America in 2007, and fresh from his hometown victory at Le Mans with Ford last weekend – said his team needs time to adjust to the new tire compound Firestone has brought for this race.

“We came testing here in October [with] basically the Mid-Ohio tire, which we were pretty familiar with. They [Firestone] decided they wanted to go to a thin-gauge tire just because of blister issues on these long-duration corners,” he explained. “But, when you go to a thin-gauge tire, then you don’t have much farther to wear before you get to a bad spot on the tire. It’s always that balancing between too much rubber, not enough rubber.

“Firestone feels that it’s a better compromise to maybe finish a bit thinner on the tire than blistering it. It’s definitely tough to get reads. Basically when you start losing enough rubber, then you can’t sustain the heat in the tire. The balance becomes very difficult to manage. It’s just a different equation, so you just have to deal with it. We didn’t test last week, so that was just unexpected from the test in October.”

Bourdais noted the brakes on the current cars are also very different than they were on the Panoz Champ Car he drove to victory here in ’07.

“The performance of the steel brakes back in the Champ Car days where we had two pads on each side, front and rear, it was really high performance,” Bourdais said. “You needed to change that two or three times in the weekend. Now with the carbon brakes, you have a different thing.

“We’ve been struggling – I think everybody knows that – with brakes. It’s not black and white. You’d like to think that throwing on carbon brakes would make it smooth and easy and everything, but it’s not so easy.”

The track surface is also something Bourdais is having to get to grips with – literally.

“When I went back out there [Friday morning], it was like, ‘Whoa, why is it sliding so much?’ he said. “It was pretty sketchy. The pavement is not the newest, so I think it gets affected a little bit more than some other places. As the track is rubbering up, it’s getting a little better.”

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