IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais have the last weekend of May and the first weekend in June squarely on their radar this year.
That’s Indianapolis 500 and Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix time, and both know what’s at stake.
A win in the 2016 Indy 500 — the 100th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 29 — would be a milestone victory for either of the Chevrolet Racing members.
Good results in the “Chevrolet Dual in Detroit” — the only doubleheader on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar — would go a long way in placing them in the hunt for a championship.
Dixon, who drives for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and Bourdais, who runs for KVSH Racing, were in the Motor City last week Friday visiting the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center and promoting the Belle Isle event scheduled for June 4-6.
Bourdais won the second Dual on Belle Isle last year in monsoon conditions over the weekend after finishing 14th in the first; Dixon finished fifth in Dual 1 and 20th after being involved in a crash in the second.
“Black and white weekend for us,” said Bourdais, 36, of his island experience. “We had a horrible first race; we couldn’t have come up with more wrong ideas, and then it turned gold for us the next day.”
Dixon, the defending IndyCar champ, enjoys Belle Isle, having won there in 2012. Despite struggling last year here, he knows how important the stop in Detroit is.
“I actually like the duals,” said Dixon, 35. “But I think it is 50/50 throughout the grid. It does take a heavy toll on crew and equipment. But, as a driver, you get two shots to win over the weekend.”
Bourdais, who won four Champ Car titles in succession before leaving to drive in Formula One, has a lot of respect for Belle Isle.
“It’s a challenging place,” said Bourdais, who was born in Le Mans, France, and has finished second twice in the classic 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car endurance event. “The track is tough. You have to make your passes count. But I do like coming to Detroit and seeing how excited the community gets about the race.”
Dixon, who was born in Australia and raised in New Zealand, wants a victory in Detroit — and another chance to drink the milk at Indy.
“We want to win races every weekend,” said Dixon, a four-time IndyCar Series champion. “As a team we have two goals — to win the Indianapolis 500 first and second to win the championship. Those won’t change. To win the Indy 500 this year in the 100th running of the race — that would be pretty cool to be on the Borg-Warner Trophy for such a hallmark year.”
Bourdais feels the same way about Indy but knows it will be a monumental task.
“The field is so dense now,” he said. “Anyone can win in the series on any given day. There are so many strong drivers and cars. I don’t think it will be any different this May at Indy.”