Pagenaud wins at Spa French sportscar racing star Simon Pagenaud is now a top class winner on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Three weeks ago the de Ferran Motorsports ace was celebrating victory in round three of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, sharing the race winning No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a with team owner/driver Gil de Ferran on the streets of Long Beach, California (photo right). Now the highly-promising 24-year-old from Poitiers has won the latest round of the European-based Le Mans Series staged at the daunting Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. It’s a remarkable double for Pagenaud who this weekend (15-17 May) will be back racing for de Ferran Motorsports in the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix, round four of the ALMS championship.
Making his debut for Peugeot as part of the Gallic team’s preparations for next month’s Le Mans 24 Hours, the Frenchman not only won Sunday’s 1000kms showdown at Spa – sharing the winning Peugeot 908 prototype with Nicholas Minassian and Christian Klien – but also showed his prowess by securing pole position and posting fastest lap during the race itself.
“I’m delighted that Gil and Acura have given me this opportunity to race for a different team at Le Mans and, hopefully, this victory at Spa is some reward for them for letting me do it,” says Pagenaud. “It was an absolutely perfect weekend for me. I was really honored that the team had the confidence in my abilities to let me go for pole position. I had tested the car once before but it’s never the same when the pressure is on and you have just one lap to deliver the best possible lap time… which I managed!
“Although we controlled the race from front and led throughout, it was never easy. Every time we established an advantage the Safety Car would come out and let the others catch up. Moreover, this was always meant to be a warm up for Le Mans, so we didn’t want to take any risks and make any mistakes – our most important goal was to finish the race. Peugeot Sport made all the right decisions and provided me with an excellent car, therefore we could manage to win the race, which, in the circumstances, was the cherry on the cake. Life can’t get much better than it is at the moment. It’s just a dream for 24-year-old like me to be racing two of the world’s top three sports prototypes. Now I want to carry that momentum on into Utah and Le Mans.”
de Ferran is hoping his young protégé’s hot streak will continue this weekend in Salt Lake City. “Congratulations to Simon for winning two such prestigious races in a row – there can’t be many drivers who’ve posted back-to-back victories in two such different venues as Long Beach and Spa,” he says.
“We rate Simon as one of the hottest prospects in motor sport and these performances underline his talents. While his main focus this year is winning ALMS races for de Ferran Motorsports in North America, we are very happy for him to fulfill his ambitions to race for a top team at Le Mans – a race that’s not on our 2009 schedule. We are confident the experience he is gaining from racing at places such as Spa and Le Mans will add to his experience and make him an even better performer for de Ferran Motorsports in the future.”
Pagenaud is now targeting further success back behind the wheel of the No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a in this weekend’s Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix – a spectacular two hour 45 minute showdown staged at the impressive Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday afternoon. The race starts at 2.15pm and tape delayed TV coverage is available on the Speed channel at 10.00pm EDT.