Gil de Ferran has announced that he is to retire from the cockpit at the end of this year's American Le Mans Series and has confirmed his intention to run a two-car IndyCar Series operation in 2010 alongside his sportscar team.
The Brazilian, who returned to driving last season after a four-year absence, revealed his plan after claiming pole position for tomorrow's Mid-Ohio American Le Mans Series race aboard his De Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a.
His De Ferran Motorsports squad had been rumoured to be switching from the ALMS to IndyCar for several months, but de Ferran said today that his intention was for his new open wheel operation to be in addition to an expanded two-car sportscar line-up, rather than a replacement for the ALMS programme.
The 41-year-old explained that he had made the decision to retire in order to focus on running the team he set up last season.
"I decided after quite a bit of thinking that this is the last time you will see me qualify at Mid-Ohio," he said. "I am going to retire from driving again at the end of the 2009 season. My life and my career has always been built on challenges and right now that means I am better focused on building my team. The reality is that my team is more important than my driving."
De Ferran explained that his desire to build his team into a "world class organisation" competing in both the ALMS and the IndyCar Series had contributed to his decision.
"I've said before that I want to expand the operation into IndyCars," he said. "For me expanding into IndyCars is natural. It is a sport I understand well and I know a lot of people."
De Ferran started racing in his homeland in Formula Ford and went on to win the British Formula 3 Championship in 1992, but it is for his exploits in the US that he is best known. He made the move stateside in 1995 after landing a Champ Car drive with the Hall team.
A move to Penske after a stint with Walker Racing signaled the start of a halcyon period in De Ferran's career. He claimed the Champ Car title in 2000 and 2001 and, after the team's switch to IndyCars, won the Indianapolis 500 in 2003.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato, reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, and current de Ferran sportscar driver - and ex-Champ Car frontrunner - Simon Pagenaud have all been linked to de Ferran's IndyCar project.