Courage for Pagenaud in first test

Simon Pagenaud's first test for his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was eye-opening to say the least. Magny Cours was a familiar enough venue earlier this week but it was his first time in the ORECA Courage-Judd that he will drive in LMP1 at the...

Simon Pagenaud's first test for his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was eye-opening to say the least. Magny Cours was a familiar enough venue earlier this week but it was his first time in the ORECA Courage-Judd that he will drive in LMP1 at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

And it was dark. And it was wet. Both were conditions unfamiliar to Pagenaud, which is nothing new. He drove in his first American Le Mans Series race two weeks ago in Utah but acquainted himself quite well in the transition from open-wheel racers to sports cars. Along the way to a third- place overall finish with team owner Gil de Ferran, Pagenaud posted the fastest lap of the race in the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b.

"It was the worst weather you can get," Pagenaud explained. "And it is completely different (from the Acura). Every team does different things from where they put the electrical system, pedals and dash. It is a completely different although the cockpit is the same size. But there is a bigger engine, bigger tires and different aerodynamics."

Pagenaud is a not-so unlikely fill-in for Stephane Ortelli. His fellow countryman is recovering from a horrific shunt at Monza that saw the Courage fly, flip and roll over and over before crashing into a tire barrier

"ORECA came to me at the beginning of the year to see if I was available," Pagenaud said. "At the beginning it was very difficult to ask (de Ferran), so I told them I couldn't do it. But then Stephane crashed and they called again. I talked to Gil and he gave me the green light to do it.

"I am really excited," he added. "Le Mans is such a legendary race for a Frenchman and it is something I've always wanted to do. It was important for me to do it in a prototype."

The 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs from 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time) from the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Forty-one drivers will represent the American Le Mans Series, whose teams have captured seven overall victories and 22 class championships since 1999. SPEED will televise the event live, and Radio Le Mans will have flag-to- flag coverage of the race as well as the June 1 test day, and practice and qualifying on June 11 and 12.

The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The race is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 12 at Lime Rock Park. SPEED will televise the race live as will XM Satellite Radio on XM Sports Nation Channel 144. Live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring also will be available at americanlemans.com.

-credit: alms

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Stéphane Ortelli , Simon Pagenaud