Four in a row for de Ferran Motorsports at Mid Ohio Pagenaud (l) and de Ferran (r) celebrate an emotional victory at Mid Ohio Lexington, OH, Saturday, August 8, 2009 -- the de Ferran Motorsports duo of Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud...
Four in a row for de Ferran Motorsports at Mid Ohio
Pagenaud (l) and de Ferran (r) celebrate an emotional victory at Mid Ohio
Lexington, OH, Saturday, August 8, 2009 -- the de Ferran Motorsports duo of Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud continued their flawless form today taking the team's fourth consecutive overall victory in the American Le Mans Series at the challenging Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
Driving the No.66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-O2a the duo led the two hour 45 minute race from green lights to chequered flag in the Acura Sports Car Challenge finishing just over eight seconds clear of second place car, the similar Acura ARX-02a of Patron Highcroft Racing driven by Scott Sharp and David Brabham. It was a clean sweep for Acura at its ‘home event' with third place going to the LMP2 entry of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz in the Acura ARX-01B.
The weekend was always going to be an emotional event as the team returned to the scene of last year's unfortunate refuelling incident which resulted in team member Keith Jones suffering serious burns. It was also the weekend that de Ferran Motorsports team boss, Gil de Ferran chose to announce his retirement from the cockpit (at the end of the 2009 season) to concentrate on developing his team; the result could not have been better.
"This event has certainly been an emotional roller-coaster, said de Ferran. "For me, and the whole team, Mid Ohio holds special significance after the pit fire that occurred last year injuring Keith "Jonesie" Jones.
"In addition to that, I announced yesterday that I will retire from driving at the conclusion of this season. Throughout the weekend, I was trying very hard to keep my emotions in check. Certainly it got harder and harder as we closed in on the chequered flag and the end of the event. This was an important victory for us in many ways. This is my last appearance as a driver in Mid Ohio. After many years of trying, finally winning one here is great. The fans here have been so fantastic over the years and this weekend. To win at a track that is so close to our shop in Indianapolis, as well as so close to so many of my Honda family means a great deal. Finally, I dedicate this victory to "Jonesie".
Simon Pagenaud, de Ferran's talented young co-driver who started the race and set the fastest lap time in his stint echoed de Ferran's sentiments.
"It's a very emotional day today," said the 25-year old French driver. "A year ago, we had the incident in the pits with Keith Jones, now we're back a year later. His recovery hasn't been easy, but he's back at work full-time. It was really important for us to get the win just for him. Also for the team, it really shows how we have all pulled together. I'm so happy to be a part of this team.
"Mid Ohio is also a home event for Honda and I am pleased we were able to put on a good show for all the people that work at the Honda facilities."
Pagenaud was also delighted with the performance of the No 66XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a.
"I don't know how the run looked from the outside" he enthused, "but it got a bit hectic sometimes. Mostly, the car was awesome. The engineers from de Ferran and Acura improved the car all weekend and the changes really suited me. I had a great race and a fantastic time!"
With the taste of victory still fresh all eyes now turn immediately to next weekend and round seven of the American Le Mans Series - 14 -16 August - at the four mile Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. With Indianapolis-based de Ferran Motorsports' current run of form, it will surely be a prospect to relish.