DE FERRAN SECURES PAGENAUD FOR ACURA'S 2009 LMP1 DEBUT
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will return to the cockpit of the de Ferran Motorsports Acura in 2009 after being re-signed by the team following his impressive rookie year in the American Le Mans Series.
The 2006 Atlantic champion and former Champ Car driver joined team owner Gil de Ferran for the team's debut season quickly coming to grips with the LMP2 Acura ARX-01b.
Teamed with de Ferran, Pagenaud scored a podium in his first race at Salt Lake City - setting the fastest lap en route. The duo were to follow this with trophy-winning performances at Belle Isle and Laguna Seca. In his first ALMS qualifying, he put the de Ferran Motorsports car on the front row of the grid at Lime Rock and repeated this at the Belle Isle course.
For 2009, de Ferran Motorsports has been chosen to compete in the premier class of the American Le Mans Series for Acura after only one season of competition. The de Ferran/Pagenaud duo will drive the brand new LMP1 Acura ARX-02 much to the delight of the young frenchman.
"I am really delighted to have the opportunity to race with de Ferran Motorsports again in 2009," enthused Simon.
"We have had an incredible 2008 with so much to learn and in such a short period of time. It has been really interesting to have worked on so many facets of the car - the engine, the traction control, the chassis - there are so many areas for development in this championship. I feel I have been given a great welcome into de Ferran Motorsports and the Acura family and I have felt comfortable straight away this year and very much at home."
"Our efforts have been awarded with the chance to develop and race the LMP1 Acura and that will be a fantastic opportunity", he continued.
de Ferran Motorsports owner and co-driver Gil de Ferran was delighted to again secure the talented Indianapolis-based Frenchman for the team's second season and first in the LMP1 division.
"When Simon joined us less than a year ago, frankly little was know about him apart from the fact he showed a lot of promise and carried himself well," commented de Ferran.
"From our perspective, this promise has been realized and today, although still only 24-years-old, Simon is one of the series leading drivers. His contribution to our team in 2008 went beyond the excellent job he did in the cockpit and we look forward to benefiting from having him around in 2009. Long may his success continue."
The new Acura LMP1 prototype is expected to hit the track for the first time prior to Christmas as preparations begin for the American manufacturer's 2009 assault.
"Simon Pagenaud is one of the world's top young racing drivers as he displayed in his first year of American Le Mans Series competition," said Erik Berkman, President, Honda Performance Development (HPD).
"Last year, Simon showed impressive qualities behind of the wheel of the No. 66 Acura ARX-01b sports car for de Ferran Motorsports. On several occasions, he battled wheel-to-wheel with many of the series' best drivers; his incredible race with an IndyCar Series champion like Tony Kanaan in the Laguna Seca finale was sensational.
"We are extremely pleased to have Simon back with de Ferran Motorsports as a co-driver in the team's new LMP1 Acura ARX-02a prototype for 2009."