French ace Simon Pagenaud has been confirmed as part of Highcroft Racing's driver lineup for next week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – reuniting last year's ALMS championship driver lineup. Pagenaud will join his regular partners David Brabham and Marino Franchitti aboard the HPD ARX-01e, the new LMP1 machine set to be shaken down at Sebring this weekend.
Pagenaud joined Highcroft for the first time last season and helped the team to three overall victories, a Petit Le Mans LMP2 class win and the overall championship.
“It is fantastic news that we are all back together as a team,” Pagenaud said. “Sebring is such an important race and I am very excited to be back with Highcroft, David and Marino and to be powered by a Honda engine again. It should be a very interesting race and I can't wait to drive the new HPD ARX-01e.”
Pagenaud, Brabham and Franchitti have all completed development miles this week on the Wirth Research simulator in preparation for the Sebring race which will not only double as the opening round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, but also the opening race of the ACO's Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. The new LMP1 HPD entry will be one of a host of new prototype machines developed for the revised Le Mans-style rules for 2011.
“The regulation changes are going to be very interesting and the guys at HPD and Wirth Research have done a fantastic job with the car,” Pagenaud said. “The original package from LMP2 was an extremely reliable car and I think with more horsepower and wider Michelin tires, we should be in good shape. The LMP1 car is heavier and everyone's downforce levels are reduced, but I am certainly looking forward to trying the car for real.”