Mid-Ohio: Series notes on Gil de Ferran announcement

de FERRAN STEPPING OUT OF COCKPIT AT END OF 2009 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 ...

de FERRAN STEPPING OUT OF COCKPIT AT END OF 2009

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.

-credit: alms

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Series ALMS
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Simon Pagenaud