Sebastien Bourdais has revealed that he suffered rear wing failure in the closing minutes of the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Bourdais took a landmark victory in the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-VR, which he shared with Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval. The French trio came back from a two-lap deficit and inherited the lead of the race when the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac fell away with steering damage.
Bourdais then had to fend off Harry Tincknell in the #55 Mazda RT24-P, a task that became considerably more difficult when the rear wing on the Frenchman’s Cadillac became damaged.
Before he figured out that the wing had given in, Bourdais admitted he nearly crashed the car at Sunset Bend, but was able to hang on and maintain the lead.
“I’m just really lucky that I didn’t stuff it in Turn 17 before I made the adjustments,” he explained. “That was a very, very close call there. At the same time, thankfully I had enough of a gap to (Tincknell) that he didn’t pass us by the time I collected myself.
“I didn’t know it was the rear wing until I got out of the car (in victory lane), but I knew something had happened aerodynamically.”
After the restart, Bourdais had both Tincknell and Kamui Kobayashi’s #48 Ally Cadillac bearing down on him, with the gap between Tincknell and Bourdais closing down significantly due to the aerodynamic issues.
While the Frenchman said the issue was causing serious problems, it also gave him a distinct advantage.
“Every corner that was coming, I was like, ‘Man, how am I going to do this one?’” Bourdais said. “The flip side of [the broken wing] is that the car was extremely fast down the straightaway, too. I was very hard to pass there.”
For Bourdais, it was his first overall IMSA win since the 2015 Petit Le Mans and the first time winning a race overall since his charge through the field at the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“I don’t know. Sometimes with the gods of racing, you don’t know what’s happening. You just take it and move on. That was one of the most improbable situations that I’ve ever been a part of that turned out in a good way.”