Highly credentialed international Sebastien Bourdais expects a challenging weekend at Sandown as he rejoins the V8 Supercars Championship for the first time in three years.
The IndyCar regular is suiting up for all three Pirtek Enduro Cup events alongside Lee Holdsworth at Walkinshaw Racing following previous V8 Supercars outings on the Gold Coast from 2010-12.
Bourdais tasted success twice at Surfers Paradise alongside Jamie Whincup, utilising a pace-setting Triple Eight car to assert his authority over the other international co-drivers on both occasions.
This weekend, however, marks a different proposition as he goes up against a full field of experienced co-drivers on a circuit he has not previously visited.
“It’s not going to be easy, and I knew that coming here,” said Bourdais ahead of the weekend.
“The cars are tough to drive, so for a guy that isn’t a regular in the car and coming from a very different background, it takes a bit to get used to but I look forward to the challenge.
“I always have a good time trying to adapt and extracting the best out of whatever car I get in to.”
Bourdais had his first taste of the Walkinshaw Commodore at Winton last week, flying to Australia direct from the IndyCar season finale in California.
“I didn’t set things on fire but I made progress through the day and got more comfortable, and also tried to refine how much I could challenge the car and understand the car better,” he said of the test.
“The biggest thing for me is making sure I don’t overdrive the car. Compared to an open-wheeler or a prototype, there isn’t much aero on these cars, the tyres are small and the car weighs a lot.
“Everything happens a little slower and you need to make sure you don’t overdo it and step over the limits and make mistakes.
“It’s all about getting in sequence with the car; the timing of the braking, how much speed you can carry and how quickly you can get back on the power.”
The coming months will see Bourdais tackle Sandown and Bathurst for the first time, before returning to familiar Gold Coast territory.
“I have been looking at the data and in-car footage so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what the track is like visually,” he said of Sandown.
“The good thing about Winton is that the track grip is not very high and I don’t think it will be very high at Sandown so it shouldn’t be a shock.
“I also think Sandown will be a little more suitable for the car balance we have, with a lot of 90-degree corners where you brake, turn, point and get out of the corner.
“I am looking forward to getting there and doing the best we can to achieve the best result possible for the team.”
The Sandown format sees co-drivers tackle their own qualifying race on Saturday before, most commonly, undertaking the first two stints of the 500 on Sunday.