Pagenaud jumps ship from de Ferran to Highcroft After going head-to-head against Patr¢n Highcroft Racing the last two years, young French sports car star Simon Pagenaud will join the championship-winning squad alongside David Brabham for the 2010 American Le Mans Series.
Pagenaud has been a key rival of the Danbury, Conn.-based team with de Ferran Motorsports during the past two seasons but will now join forces with Brabham to form a potent attack at the Honda Performance Development factory squad armed with the newly revised ARX-01c chassis.
Pagenaud won five times in 2009 with Gil de Ferran. He also scored three poles and five fastest race laps.
The 25-year-old Frenchman from Poitiers made his US debut in 2006, winning the Atlantic championship and defeating Graham Rahal in the process. He graduated to the Champ Car World Series in 2007, finishing eighth in points before making his sports car debut with Gil de Ferran at Salt Lake City in May 2008.
Pagenaud quickly demonstrated his tremendous skill set. His sports car career blossomed in 2009, taking three poles, five race victories and five fastest laps in the 10 American Le Mans Series races. He and de Ferran placed second in the LMP1 championship behind Brabham and Scott Sharp.
Pagenaud also contested the Spa-Francorchamps round of Le Mans Series in Europe - scoring pole position, the race victory and recording the fastest lap of the race in his only outing for the Peugeot factory team. Pagenaud also drove a privateer Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That event in Belgium was the first time Pagenaud was a teammate with David Brabham - now the duo will be combined in the ARX-01c chassis.
Brabham had a stunning 2009, taking his first American Le Mans Series championship alongside Sharp for Patr¢n Highcroft Racing and also scoring his first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Peugeot.
One of the most experienced sports car drivers in the world, Brabham is the only driver to take pole and win races in every Series class.
Alongside his factory efforts for HPD and Peugeot, the English-based Australian ex-Formula 1 driver has also represented major factory efforts from Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar, BMW, Toyota, McLaren, Nissan and Panoz.
Pagenaud and Brabham will begin testing duties next month in preparation for the opening round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series that kicks off at the Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 20.
Pagenaud and Brabham will be a formidable pairing in 2010.
Simon Pagenaud “I’m very excited about 2010. The last two years in the American Le Mans Series have been very important for my career and I am looking forward to returning as a driver for the Patr¢n Highcroft Racing Team alongside David Brabham who I have a lot of respect for.
“I am delighted to be part of Duncan Dayton’s Patr¢n Highcroft organization and to continue my relationship with Honda Performance Development.
“When I made the decision to move to the US it was to focus on open wheel racing, but then an opportunity opened up for me in the American Le Mans Series with Gil De Ferran and now to continue on racing here in the States with Patr¢n Highcroft Racing is great. I am really looking forward to next year!
“Joining the Patron Highcroft Racing squad is a very exciting challenge. I enjoyed driving the ARX-01b in 2008 and the car went through a lot of development that year. I am looking forward to the updates on the ARX-01c for the 2010 season to make it even more competitive than it already is.
“The combined prototype class concept is very interesting. The regulations on equivalency for prototypes will be key and very important in providing good racing.”
David Brabham “I am absolutely delighted that Simon is now part of the Patr¢n Highcroft team and will be my new teammate. I’ve had two great years with Scott and now Simon comes in as one of the quickest and best sports car drivers out there. I think the two of us should be as quick as any of the combinations in the American Le Mans Series next year.
“Having somebody like Simon come aboard provides added motivation for me because he is a very fast driver and I think we are going to push each other very hard to squeeze more speed out the ARX-01c.
“I don’t want Simon to come in and be faster than me and he doesn’t want to be joining his new team and be slower than his teammate either.
“We’re both very team focused but our combination together should certainly push us forward.
“One of the advantages we'll have for 2010 is the fact that Simon and I are already very good friends and we have been working together with all the guys at HPD over the past couple of years.
“When we get to the first test we will be able to get stuck into the program straight away.”
Duncan Dayton, Team Owner “Simon has been impressive throughout his career, particularly since his debut in the American Le Mans Series. He is someone we have had our eye on and were worried about when he was competing against us because he is bloody quick.
“When the opportunity arose to secure his services for Patr¢n Highcroft Racing, we jumped at it. It was an obvious choice, because we will be able to plug him straight into our program.
“He is familiar with the car, the Series and the tracks. He knows a lot of our guys, so we will be able to immediately start serious testing.
“I think we are going to have a seriously fast driver pairing with Simon and David. We’d rather have Simon fighting for us, rather than against us, so it will be great to have him in Patr¢n Highcroft colors next year.
“Simon is also very young, so he has an amazing future ahead of him. He and David get on very well and I think they will really push us forward for 2010 as we defend our championship.”
The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America’s greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 with live coverage on SPEED.
The annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test is scheduled for February 22-23, also at Sebring International Raceway.
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