Road Atlanta: Acura Motorsports preview

IMPRESSIVE de FERRAN ACURA LINEUP SET FOR UPCOMING PETIT LE MANS; DIXON JOINS de FERRAN, PAGENAUD IN SEARCH OF TEAM'S FIFTH 2009 WIN Acura Trio Ready To Take On Stellar LMP1 Class Field Including Patron Acura, Peugeots And Audis ...

IMPRESSIVE de FERRAN ACURA LINEUP SET FOR UPCOMING PETIT LE MANS; DIXON JOINS de FERRAN, PAGENAUD IN SEARCH OF TEAM'S FIFTH 2009 WIN
Acura Trio Ready To Take On Stellar LMP1 Class Field Including Patron Acura, Peugeots And Audis

BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 15, 2009) -- de Ferran Motorsports has loaded up his driver lineup in an attempt to win the prestigious Petit Le Mans as well as the coveted LMP1 class championship when the cars hit the Road Atlanta pavement for the September 26 sports car classic, the ninth round of the American Le Mans Series.

The talent level of Indy 500 winners Gil de Ferran and Scott Dixon and the lightning quick speed of young Simon Pagenaud brings one of the strongest sports car driving trios in the world to the fast 2.54-mile, 12-turn road circuit in the northeast Georgia hills for the 1,000-mile event.

The de Ferran contingent has already enjoyed a successful tour in 2009 with four overall ALMS wins and six overall pole positions. But a victory at Petit Le Mans would recognize the upstart racing organization as one of the world's best. And a victory at Road Atlanta would pull the de Ferran team closer to the LMP1 point lead.

The drivers in the No. 66 XM Satellite Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a prototype will be going to battle against a strong LMP1 field with the likes of the Patron Highcroft Acura team and factory operations from 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Peuqoet squad, the 12 Hours of Sebring-winning Audi team and the fast Oreca effort, recent winners at Silverstone in the Le Mans Series finale.

"The Petit Le Mans race will be a big one for our team," said team owner de Ferran, the two-time CART series champion and 2003 Indy 500 winner. "Earlier in the season, we were still learning about our new Acura LMP1 car. We won the pole at Sebring with Scott and the car was fast. But now, the car is more developed and more reliable than at Sebring. We have put together a strong lineup with Simon, Scott and myself, and I feel the Acura chassis and engine is much better than earlier this year. So we believe we can race with anyone."

With wins at Long Beach, Utah, Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio and six poles has shown the outright speed of the de Ferran Acura this year. Reliability has been a question at times including the most recent ALMS race at Mosport, as de Ferran led early but his mount suffered gearbox trouble and the Patron Highcroft Acura team of David Brabham and Scott Sharp won the overall title.

"We have had the flat-out speed for most of the year," said Pagenaud, who has a season-high three overall pole positions. "The team has put together an excellent car this year. We have had a few mechanical problems that have hurt us in the LMP1 point standings. But we are prepared for the Petit Le Mans race. A victory there would give us a strong chance for the series championship. But the competition level at the Petit race will be one of the toughest in any race in the world. The Acura cars didn't run at Le Mans. So this race could match up as the one of the hardest to win in 2009."

Dixon, the two-time IndyCar Series titleholder and 2008 Indy 500 winner, is no stranger with de Ferran Motorsports. The popular Kiwi, who currently battles for his third IndyCar Series crown in the Target Chip Ganassi Honda, drove sensationally in last year's Petit Le Mans in the de Ferran LMP2 Acura prototype, and, last March, he stunned the Sebring paddock by driving the XM Radio Acura to the overall pole in the car's very first event against the factory Audis and Peugeots.

"I'm really pleased that Chip has given me another opportunity to join Gil and his team," said Dixon. "I've always enjoyed the chances I've gotten in the past to join him and Simon in the ALMS and, specifically, at Petit Le Mans. I know that de Ferran Motorsports always assembles a strong team and I'm looking forward to doing my part to hopefully put us in a position to be in contention."

-credit: acura motorsports

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Gil de Ferran , Chip Ganassi , Simon Pagenaud