ALMS – Pagenaud Signing at Patron Highcroft Raises Questions

patronSimon Pagenaud has signed a contract with Patron Highcroft for 2010 to replace Scott Sharp who previously left the team to start his own GT2 team. Simon will partner with David Brabham in the newly revised Acura ARX-01c LMP2 car.

This will give Patron Highcroft a very impressive driver pairing. David Brabham is one of the most talented and experienced sportscar drivers of this generation. Teaming him with a very quick and capable Pagenaud only spells wins for the team. Especially since Pagenaud is a more reliable and less erratic driver than the man he is replacing.

This brings up a few questions in my mind though. First on the list is that Pagenaud left his seat at Gil de Ferran’s team where he had been racing for the past two seasons. Gil de Ferran had previously announced his intent to start a two car IndyCar program next year and Simon’s name had been linked to that program on many occasions. So why would Simon leave?

A couple of possibilities. He may not have liked the idea of driving an IndyCar on ovals, but his past CCWS experience and IndyCar tests seem to indicate he would be interested in a ride in IndyCar. A more likely scenario is that he needed to secure a seat for 2010 because both the IndyCar and ALMS program at Gil de Ferran’s team is currently questionable as no announcements have been made by either program.

pagenaudThe next question to be brought up is that Patron Highcroft is switching back to Acura’s LMP2 car after running the inaugural season of the LMP1 effort in 2009. This would definitely be the flagship team for Acura’s LMP2 car since Fernandez shuttered his team which won the LMP2 championship in 2009 with the Acura ARX-01b. This begs the question if anybody will be running the Acura LMP1.

We certainly will find out more in the coming months, but this move makes me question if De Ferran will be involved in ALMS for 2010, despite his statements to the contrary. Now with no drivers on board since Gil retired and the supposed start of a new IndyCar effort for 2010, Gil may join Fernandez in closing the sportscar operations. Especially since Acura chose not to develop the LMP1 car at all last year after finding out that Audi was not going to compete for the full season in ALMS. If Gil had any desire to compete at Le Mans, he would have to pick a different horse.

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4 Thoughts to “ALMS – Pagenaud Signing at Patron Highcroft Raises Questions

  1. From what I am reading, it looks as though Acura may have committed to Patron Highcroft but made no big announcement about it. This would shift the questions back to de Ferran who has been silent since the season finale. That is both on the IndyCar series front as well as sports car. I believe the LMP2 car was given the nod because of the liberty that the engineers will recieve in working on the car. This may give them an edge over someone like a Lola or make a bit more competitive. The fact is the ARX-02 was pathetic and met none of the companie’s goals except it was capable of racing. Aside from that, the championships are hollow because they were the only car on the grid practically.

    P.S. Damn you Mike! I was going to write this at lunch….well done.

  2. The LMP1 car may just be mothballed….. It cannot run at Le Mans, lest it be embarrassed. And with the ALMS’s LMP1/2 leveling scheme for 2010, it makes more sense to go with the LMP2 since it is a highly refined version of a proven winner and it has the benefit of further development as Shaun pointed out.

    P.S. You’re too slow Shaun

  3. The real interesting bit here isn’t so much Highcroft’s move to LMP2, or even Simon’s signing on for 2010, but the absolute absence of news regarding de Ferran Motorsports. There’s been some buzz recently that they’re looking to form a partnership with Vision Racing in effort to jointly field a 2-car team in the IZOD IndyCar Series, but there’s been nothing about any potential ALMS effort. This makes me very skeptical of the entire prototype class for ALMS in 2010. As if last year’s field wasn’t anemic enough, next year is shaping up to be even more sparse.

  4. I agree Doug…I think that the lack of news out of the de Ferran camp is a problem. Surely we were heard something in regards to one of the programs. He needs to make a decision…granted car construction in the IndyCar series is not like that of F1 because it is the same, but there is also no news of the LMP series and Sebring is just around the corner…

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