Toronto After Sebastien Bourdais won the provisional pole for the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto on Friday, the Frenchman was asked if he realizes he always seems to rise to the challenge when he is in conflict with other drivers.
Feigning innocence and grinning, Bourdais replied: "What are you talking about?"
Oriol Servia, the man Bourdais had just nipped in first-day qualifying for Sunday's race, said, "Tell me when he's not."
Despite the laughter that ensued, it does seem the three-time defending Champ Car World Series champion has had more than his share of run-ins, on and off the track.
Last week, Bourdais went on a rant that lasted through the mass postrace interview, a series of one-on-one question-and-answer sessions and even to private conversations in his team's hospitality tent more than an hour after rookie Robert Doornbos held off the Frenchman to win on the road course at Mont-Tremblant, north of Montreal.
Doornbos was unrepentant and, in the middle of all the fuss, Bourdais refused to shake the hand of his latest adversary on the victory stand.
Bourdais was unhappy with what he says are the blocking tactics that the Dutch driver brought with him from European road racing. He said Doornbos, who has twice been penalized for the same offense this season, blocked him not once, but three times during the race.
Officials did not see it that way and the first Champ Car victory by Doornbos moved the 25-year-old Formula One test driver into a tie for the series lead with Bourdais.
Calmed down considerably in the interim, Bourdais went out Friday and did his best to put the anger and frustration behind him, outdueling Servia and moving back into the series lead with the single point for winning the provisional pole.