IndyCar star Sebastien Bourdais says it is important not to rush the process of learning the Mount Panorama circuit as he gears up for his maiden practice laps.
The Frenchman, partnering Lee Holdsworth in the #18 Walkinshaw Racing Commodore, received his first taste of the 6.2km circuit when he undertook a track walk on Wednesday.
Facing the prospect of learning one of the world’s most challenging circuits, the 36-year-old says he will adopt a patient approach as he builds his speed ahead of Sunday’s 161 lap classic.
Bourdais has set himself the target of being within two second of his experienced co-driver Holdsworth after his first run.
After surveying the circuit during the track walk, the inherent dangers of even the slightest mistake have become apparent.
“It is like what you expect from watching onboards (video),” Bourdais told Speedcafe.com.
“It is a little steeper especially when it starts to come down but other than that it was pretty much how I thought it would be.
“I’m trying not to put unnecessary pressure on myself.
“I have been watching a lot of videos and have been trying to memorise the track.
“You can take all the notes you want but until you have been in car and felt it, it is very difficult to translate the notes. It is all visual for the moment.
“The most important thing is that I get in the car and feel comfortable and get up to speed without forcing anything.
“If you are pushing and forcing things then usually you make mistakes and that is not what you want.
“It is a bit of a Macau type scenario, it is always risk versus reward and you have to be engaged. You also know that you have to hold back a little bit because this place will bite you for sure.
“I have just got to take my time and try not to speed through the process of learning the place and not disrespect it.
“If I can get within two seconds of Lee (Holdsworth) on the first real runs and feel the pace is going to come I will be happy with that.”
Focussed on adapting to the circuit, Bourdais says he is yet to think about his race targets but admits he has already been overwhelmed by the build up to the Great Race.
“I haven’t really been thinking about it and spending the energy and time to anticipate the what ifs and maybes of what could happen in the race,” added Bourdais.
“I’m just trying to be relaxed about it and I feel like I have done everything I can to prepare for this in the best possible way before I get in the car.
“Hopefully when I get in the car we can achieve something good.
“You can tell it is not a normal weekend. The whole town is getting behind the race. I’m just trying to soak it all in and enjoy the moment.”
Bourdais is set to complete his first laps in opening practice which begins at 11:15 (local time).
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