An emotional Sebastien Bourdais accepted the first of what will probably be many Dan Wheldon memorial trophies at the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercar race on the same day as Wheldon was laid to rest.
The trophy, named in honour of Wheldon, who tragically lost his life last weekend in an IndyCar crash at Las Vegas, will be awarded annually to the best international driver to race on the Gold Coast weekend.
Wheldon was supposed to race alongside friend James Courtney for the Toll Holden Supercar team this weekend, his place instead being taken by ex-McLaren test driver Darren Turner.
Aussie Will Power, who injured his back in the Wheldon crash, was also slated to drive this weekend but was forced to withdraw. Tony Kanaan, a close friend of Wheldon, withdrew out of respect for his friend.
Three other IndyCar drivers—Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castraneves and Alex Tagliani—all agreed to honour their commitment to race and headed up a field of some 28 international drivers.
Others to drive included current F1 pilot Vitantonio Liuzzi and former F1 drivers Christian Klien, Mika Salo and Gianni Morbidelli.
Bourdais and his Australian teammate, Jamie Whincup, took second place in the second of two 300km races, leaving him as the leading international driver over the weekend.
Bourdais, a former ChampCar champion, became choked as he gave his acceptance speech and eventually abandoned the effort as the emotion became too much.
The V8 Supercars official website quotes Bourdais as saying, "I think it's been a great showing for Dan, I'm sure he would have loved it. I'm so sad he wasn't a part of it this weekend; this means a whole lot."
Mark Winterbottom and Richard Lyons clinched the final race of the weekend after a nail-biting tussle with Bourdais and Whincup over the closing laps.
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