Long Beach: de Ferran Motorsports race report

Landmark first-ever victory for de Ferran Motorsports at Long Beach Top step of the podium for de Ferran Motorsports Long Beach, Ca, Saturday 18th April, 2009: de Ferran Motorsports celebrated its maiden outright win in today's (Saturday 18 ...

Landmark first-ever victory for de Ferran Motorsports at Long Beach

Top step of the podium for de Ferran Motorsports

Long Beach, Ca, Saturday 18th April, 2009: de Ferran Motorsports celebrated its maiden outright win in today's (Saturday 18 April) Tequila Patron Grand Prix, round three of this year's American Le Mans Series staged on the 1.96-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit near the Long Beach harbour. Team owner/driver Gil de Ferran had the honour of taking the No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a to a milestone victory less than a year after the new team - set up by the former Indianapolis 500 victor - made its race debut in North America's premier sportscar championship.

"I'm so happy to achieve this first win for the team" enthused the Florida-based Brazilian. "We debuted less than a year ago, we have been knocking on the door quite a few times since, so to achieve our first win within this time frame speaks a great deal for everyone involved. That we managed to do it in such a notorious place as Long Beach - Acura's backyard - is a great bonus."

"The race itself was quite eventful, we lost some bodywork early on and Simon did a good job coping with the situation and getting back to the lead prior to the pit stop. When I got in the car, I just focused on maintain the gap and dealing with traffic, thankfully despite some close calls it all turned out well! Lastly I would like to thank all our personnel for their uninterrupted efforts since we came into existence and Acura for its unconditional support."

For the third race in succession the No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a started from the front row of the grid, this time with Simon Pagenaud at the wheel. The young French star wasted no time passing the similar pole sitting Acura ARX-02a of Scott Sharp around the outside at the first corner and then led the opening laps. Sharp, though, fought back to retake the lead after half an hour but not without making contact with the de Ferran car, causing some bodywork damage.

The two evenly matched Acuras then circulated in close proximity at the head of the field until the mid-race pit-stops for fuel, tires and a driver change. Pagenaud stopped one lap later than his rival and, helped by a 20-second penalty imposed on his closest adversary for a pit-stop violation, de Ferran rejoined the track with a healthy lead -- an advantage he maintained until the finish

"This is the first win for the team and such an important location to achieve that win," said a delighted Simon Pagenaud. "We have a lot of the de Ferran "family" here -- it's Acura's home race and we have members of XM Radio and Panasonic here, so it's a fantastic race to win. The race was pretty eventful. I had been planning the start of the race and I was so happy that it happened exactly as I had hoped. For the first few laps, the car was good, but then something happened. I started to struggle to keep the car on the track. I had to re-focus and adapt my driving to the car. With traffic, I was able to come back and get the lead back just before Gil got in the car. He drove the car really well and we had a really great result to the weekend. It feels fantastic!

The victory was not only the first for the new de Ferran Motorsports outfit after highly promising - yet ultimately disappointing - performances in both Sebring and St Petersburg, but also ended de Ferran's own personal jinx at Long Beach, misfortune having cost him several potential victories during his single seater career. The race also produced an historic one-two-three podium clean sweep for Acura.

-credit: dfm

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Series ALMS
Drivers Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Simon Pagenaud