BREAKING NEWS: De Ferran announces his retirement UPDATE De Ferran went on to say that "When I stepped back into the cockpit I was not looking to reestablish my driving career but I felt I needed to do that to help build my ALMS team. I have accomplished that and now my time is done. My sole focus from here on will be on developing and expanding my race team.
"When I stepped out of IndyCars (then Champ Cars) in 2003 that was it for me. I only came back for a very specific reason. I plan to finish out this season and my goal is to win my final sports car race just like I won my final IndyCar race in 2003."
American Le Mans Series team owner/driver Gil de Ferran, a two-time CART champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner, announced Friday that he will step away from the cockpit at the completion of the 2009 American Le Mans Series season to focus on his role as President of de Ferran Motorsports (DFM), the team he formed in 2008 to compete in Series as the factory-supported Acura team.
“Ideally, in a perfect world, I would like to run two sports cars in the American Le Mans Series and two cars in the IndyCar Series,” said de Ferran, a three-time winner this season in the American Le Mans Series. “That is my dream, and part of the reason I am retiring from driving is to pursue this dream.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always been driven by challenges. While I’ve enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the No. 66 XM Radio DFM Acura ARX-02a, my main focus moving forward is to continue to build our team into a world-class motorsports organization.
“I feel that by returning to the cockpit for the past year, I have been competitive and added value to our team as a driver,” he added. “Overall, I also feel we succeeded in developing this program to a point where I can now step down and dedicate 100 percent of my time to expanding our team.”
The 41-year-old, Florida-based Brazilian’s racing career began in 1982 and included winning titles in each of the series in which he competed, and he originally retired from open-wheel racing at the conclusion of the 2003 season. Immediately upon his retirement, he worked as an announcer for ABC/ESPN before being named as the Sporting Director of the Honda Formula One team.
de Ferran founded DFM in 2008 to support Acura in the development of its sports car program, assuming a role similar to his role with Honda in the IndyCar Series. In the team’s first race (Salt Lake City), de Ferran qualified on the front row and finished on the podium (third) with teammate Simon Pagenaud. They ended their 2008 season with four front-row starts in eight races including one pole position.
“One of the things that ALMS has allowed us to do is to push ourselves technically and develop our engineering department,” de Ferran said. “It makes sense from a financial and an engineering standpoint. Basically, being bigger makes a lot of sense and we are trying to pursue that.”
To date this season, they have started on the front row in every race - missing the pole position only once - and have won the past three events. They currently are in second place in the LMP1 championship, just 13 points out of first place.
“I’m looking forward to competing in the final races of the 2009 American Le Mans Series season as I think we have a very strong shot at the championship,” said de Ferran. “It would be great to end my sports car driving career with a win at Laguna Seca and a championship for Acura and DFM, much the same way I ended my IndyCar career.”
de Ferran ended the 2003 season with a win at Texas Motor Speedway as the defending Indy 500 winner.
08/07/09 Here at Mid-Ohio Gil De Ferran just announced his retirement from driving after this year to focus on growing his team. He expressed an interest in expanding his team into IndyCars and he wants to step out of the cockpit and give other drivers the opportunity to drive so he could focus 100% of his energy on improving the team. Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio