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Armor Al Gold Coast 600 lands 2 more drivers
A relationship forged almost 30 years ago has led to the latest international signing for this year’s Armor All Gold Coast 600, October 21-23.
Fujitsu Racing/GRM owner, Garry Rogers, raced a BMW with Bob Jane in Australia in the mid 1980s and during the relationship the pair visited Schnitzer BMW in Germany where they attended a few endurance events, including the Spa 24-hour with team Principal, Charlie Lamm.
It was Lamm who Rogers contacted about some “talent” for this year’s Gold Coast event and the German offered up his Brazilian hot shot Augusto Farfus, who currently drives for him in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Rogers has also announced that young French star Simon Pagenaud will be joining his Fujitsu Racing stable for the event which will attract a total of 28 international stars.
They will team-up with Rogers’ regular stars Lee Holdsworth and Michael Caruso, but final pairings will not be announced until race week.
The two join this year’s Indy 500 pole sitter Alex Tagliani, European stars Andy Priaulx, Marc Lieb and Dirk Müller, US gun Joey Hand, colorful US veteran Boris Said and Australian IndyCar stars Will Power and Ryan Briscoe as the confirmed drivers in the Armor All Gold Coast 600 field, with the remaining 18 being announced in coming weeks.
The international stars will team-up with home-grown Australian talent such as Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom, Jamie Whincup, James Courtney, Steve Johnson, Jason Bright, Will Davison, Russell Ingall, Garth Tander and Rick Kelly.
This year’s event will not only include some of the biggest names in world motorsport, but also from the world of entertainment with the event’s Rock and Race format to continue with nightly concerts at the Broadwater Parklands entertainment precinct.
Rogers is regarded as one of the best spotters of young talent in the V8 Supercar pit lane and his lower-profile selected driver last year, Patrick Long, turned out to be the surprise packet of the weekend.
Long is expected to be confirmed with an opposition team in coming weeks.
“It is funny how things work out. I first had a relationship with Schnitzer BMW around 30 years ago and here we are using one of Charlie Lamm’s drivers on the Gold Coast,” said Rogers.
“I think we have two talented young blokes who can do the job, whether they are crash proof is something we will not find out until race weekend.
“I am sure they will fit into our team very well and will be great ambassadors for V8 Supercars back in their own countries.
“A few people questioned our selection of Patrick Long last year and we certainly proved them wrong, I am sure these two guys will also get the job done.”
Pagenaud is no stranger to the Gold Coast haven driven for the Team Australia Champ Car team in 2007. He is now recognized a one of the world’s best young sportscar talents and recently finished second outright at the Le Mans 24-hour.
Both Pagenaud and Farfus will drive a V8 Supercar for the first time at a special test day on the Wednesday of the Gold Coast event at Queensland Raceway.
The announcement of the Frenchman and the Brazilian also adds two more countries to the list that will be represented at this year’s event.
“The Armor All Gold Coast 600 is about showcasing Queensland and Australia to the rest of the world and having varied and talented drivers like Augusto and Simon helps us achieve our goal,” said Queensland Sports Minister Phil Reeves.
“The Bligh Government is a great supporter of V8 Supercars and the Armor All Gold Coast 600 is the crown jewel on the V8 Supercar calendar.”
“Queensland is not only becoming known as the Champions State, but also the Event State, and this motor race is a great example of that.”
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ...
Simon Pagenaud – Fujitsu Racing GRM
“I was delighted when Garry first made contact with me in regards to driving for the GRM team at the Gold Coast,” said Pagenaud.
“It is quite amazing the amount of publicity and interest that the V8 Supercar category gets both in Europe and the US, where I am competing for both Peugeot and in Indy Cars.
“A little information has already leaked out about my drive on the Gold Coast and the interest has certainly risen.
“I compete in the Sportcars with Patrick Long, who drove for the GRM boys last year and he tells me he not only had a wonderful race event but also had a lot of fun and enjoyment with the team. I am looking forward to this event very much and also meeting all of the GRM people.”
Augusto Farfus – Fujitsu Racing GRM
“For me, the chance to compete at the Gold Coast Event is something I am really looking forward to. I drive for the Schnitzer BMW Team and also compete in various sports car events,” said Farfus.
“Charlie Lamm, the principal of Schnitzer has had dealings with Garry Rogers in the past and I am really looking forward to meeting Garry and the Team.
“The vision that I have seen of the circuit shows it to be very fast and flowing which is the type of racing that I am familiar with. I believe that I will adapt well to the V8 Supercar technology. Whilst engine sizes vary, the principle of front engine rear wheel drive is something that I am familiar with.”
Lee Holdsworth – Fujitsu Racing GRM
“Last year’s Gold Coast Event was obviously well accepted by the supporters and the drivers,” said Holdsworth.
“The introduction of professionals from other categories of motorsport was always going to be an unknown.
“While there was some crashing, the event proved to be exciting and successful and produced some of the best racing that we saw throughout the season.
“This year we have to have two international drivers instead of one.
“This year we have two of perhaps the younger drivers in the overseas brigade and anything can happen, but clearly both Augusto and Simon have pretty solid performances to their credit coming into the Gold Coast Event.
“As always with Garry, we have not yet discussed who will be driving with who, to quote his words ‘lets concentrate our energies on winning the races before us prior to getting to the Gold Coast’ he’s a shocking waffler.
“Next thing he will want to be engineering the car.”
Michael Caruso – Fujitsu Racing GRM
“I am really looking forward to competing at the Gold Coast again it is a fast flowing and exciting circuit and with the high-rise buildings and seascape,” said Caruso.
“Last year, being the first year of the format I was paired with our International driver Patrick Long and between us we achieved a very solid performance on a very demanding circuit.
“Our driver pairings this year have not been decided but we have two of the most competitive drivers coming to Australia for the event with terrific endurance experience.”
SIMON PAGENAUD - FRANCE
Born: May 18, 1984
Place: Poiters, France
Lives: Indianapolis, USA
Current Series: American Le Mans Series
Current Team: Highcroft Racing
V8 Supercar Team for the Gold Coast: Fujitsu Racing/GRM
• 2011 Runner-up Le Mans 24-hour
• 2010 ALMS Champion with Highcroft Racing
• 2009 ALMS Championship Runner up
• 2007 Most Improved Driver award in the Champ Car World Series
• Raced on the streets of the Gold Coast in 2007 as part of the Champ Car World Series with the Team Australia outfit
• Won the Champ Car Atlantic Championship for Team Australia/Walker Racing in 2006
• Won the 2010 American Le Mans Series title alongside Australia's David Brabham
After a successful junior karting career, Pagenaud won the prestigious ACO Elf Driving Selection in 2001 and finished second in the French Formula Renault Campus. He was rookie of the year in French Formula Renault the following season. He battled with F1 star Lewis Hamilton in the Formula Renault Masters in 2003 on his way to finishing third, and finished sixth overall in the French championship.
He scored five wins in 2004 contesting both the French and European championships - finishing second in the Euro standings. His final European season was in World Series by Renault in 2005 where he scored five top-five results.
Pagenaud came to America in 2006 to contest the Champ Car Atlantic Championship with Team Australia/Walker Racing. He quickly became a force to be reckoned with, showing remarkable consistency. The Frenchman scored one win, one pole position, eight front row starts and collected nine top-five finishes on his way to taking the championship and rookie of the year prizes.
That result propelled him into the Champ Car World Series in 2007 with the same team. Pagenaud led four races on his way to eighth in the championship and was voted by his peers as the most improved driver in the series, for a season that included a race on the streets of the Gold Coast.
Pagenaud marked himself as an ALMS star of the future when he was selected to join Gil de Ferran’s new Acura team in 2008.
The Frenchman showed impressive speed in his debut race at Salt Lake City and finished the season with one pole, four front row starts and three podium finishes in the LMP2 class. He also contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, sharing an Oreca LMP1 car with ex-Formula One driver Olivier Panis and Marcel Fassler that same year and then has been back regularly as a member of the factory Peugeot team.
Simon Pagenaud was a thorn in the side of Highcroft Racing in 2009 as the team fought hard for the ALMS crown. Pagenaud took five race wins, seven pole positions, seven fastest laps - but lost the championship title to Highcroft Racing before joining the team for 2010 alongside David Brabham and the pair charged on to another championship victory on the back of four wins in the most competitive season in American Le Mans Series history.
His last lap pass for the win at Long Beach on Adrian Fernandez was a season highlight. Pagenaud has been just as impressive back in Europe as a member of the factory Peugeot team taking multiple LMS wins.
AUGUSTO FARFUS JR. - BRAZIL
Born: September 3, 1983
Place: Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Status: Wife – Elirane
Children: Victoria (born June 13 2011)
Current Series: Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LM GTE Pro
Current Team: BMW Motorsport
V8 Supercar Team for the Gold Coast: Fujitsu Racing/GRM
• 2011: 24hrs Dubai Overall Winner
• 2010, 2008 24hrs Nurburgring Overall Winner
• 2003: Formula 3000 European Champion
• His won his first title the first time he competed at age 6 in mini-motorcycles
• At age 13 he moved out of home to São Paulo to race
• In 2005 he won the Macao race the first time he ever raced there, only Ayrton Senna before him had ever won the race on their first attempt. The track is known as the most difficult and narrow track in the world.
• He became the youngest driver in history to win the European Formula 3000 Championship in 2003.
Born in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, Augusto’s first foray into motorsport was at age six, where he earned his first title in mini-motorcycles. He proceeded to Go-Karts and at age 9 he started winning multiple championships.
At the age of 16, Augusto moved to Europe to drive open wheelers, he competed in the European and Italian Championship of Formula Renault for the Italian team Cram Competition. It was in 2003 he became the European Champion of Formula Renault.
Augusto moved to Touring Cars in 2004 with Alfa Romeo in the World Touring Car Championship, he then switched to BMW who he currently drives for in the Intercontinental Le Mans Championship.
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