Simon Pagenaud will couple his full-season IndyCar effort with Sam Schmidt's team with another sports car one-off, as the Frenchman joins Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Pagenaud will serve as the team's third driver of its new HPD ARX-03a, alongside Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr. It's the fourth different iteration of HPD or Acura prototype Pagenaud will have driven in the last four years at Sebring, and makes him a natural fit in the team.
“I'm delighted to be taking on this new challenge and very happy to be joining Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for the first race of the ALMS season,” he said. “They were my greatest competitor for the last few years and they are a great team with fantastic people and drivers. I will do my best to represent them as well as possible and I will use all my experience aboard the previous versions of the HPD prototypes that I have driven to help the team.
“It is a little bit of a love story with Honda. I've driven all sorts of their cars from the Honda Fit, to sports cars and they've helped me reach my goal to get into IndyCar. That said, when I heard they were coming out with the HPD ARX-03a P1 prototype, I was very interested in participating in the 12 Hours of Sebring. I talked to HPD with Greg and Klaus about this great opportunity and we connected all the dots.”
Pickett, whose Muscle Milk team battled Pagenaud's Highcroft squad for the 2010 ALMS LMP championship (ABOVE, LEFT), acknowledged the benefit of having Pagenaud on board after trying to beat him since he entered the series.
“Simon is one tough competitor as we've seen over the past few years and it was always great fun racing against him, but I think it will be even more fun for everyone on the team to have him racing with us!” he said.
Pagenaud's Sebring history includes driving a P1-spec Acura ARX-02a in 2009, a revised P2-spec HPD ARX-01c in 2010 and the manufacturer's new foray into P1 with the HPD ARX-01e last year – that car's only start. The HPD ARX-03a is based off the car that Pagenaud, David Brabham and Marino Franchitti took to second in the race a year ago.
The team also confirmed Roger Wills as its third driver in its LMPC class entry, alongside Memo Gidley and Michael Guasch.