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news releaseTooele County - de Ferran Motorsports celebrated its first anniversary in glorious style by winning today's (Sunday 17 May) Larry H. Miller Utah Grand Prix, round four of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. The team founded by former Indianapolis winner Gil de Ferran made its debut 12 months ago at the state-of-the-art Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City and last month scored its maiden ALMS success at Long Beach in California.
The No 66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a dominated the two hour 45 minute race in Utah. Starting from pole position, team owner/driver de Ferran quickly established a commanding 30-second advantage over the similar Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-02a LMP1 prototype of Scott Sharp before handing the leading car over to team-mate Simon Pagenaud just before the hour mark. Far from resting on these laurels, the 25-year-old Frenchman kept extending this lead during the remainder of the event and crossed the finishing line more than 73 seconds clear of the second placed Acura. With the Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b finishing third overall - and first in the lesser LMP2 category - Acura posted its second successive 1-2-3 clean sweep of the ALMS campaign.
"I had a good opportunity at the start to open a gap when I came out of turn one in first place and thought 'here's my chance', so I pushed as hard as I knew how to try and open a gap," explained de Ferran. "We managed to build an over-30 second lead by the time we had our first stop. Simon drove extremely well for the rest of the race and we kept building distance from the second-place car all the way to the end. This is a very meaningful victory for us, our second in a row. This was our debut event last year, and we came so close to winning it then. It's fantastic to come back and achieve the win this year - such a great win. It speaks volumes about the team and the entire Acura program."
The race was a personal triumph for Pagenaud who not only set a new track record in qualifying and took fastest lap in the race but also completed a very special hat-trick. The speedy Frenchman followed up victory for de Ferran Motorsports in Long Beach with a win in last Sunday's Spa 1000km in Belgium on his Le Mans Series debut for the factory Peugeot team. Today's all-conquering feat made it three top class wins in a row.
"Gil did all the work - I didn't have much to do," reported Pagenaud modestly. "He gave me the car with a massive gap. From there, I kept pushing so as not to lose my focus. I pushed as though there was someone right behind me the entire time. The car was behaving perfectly. The team called the strategy just right. The tires were behaving well. Not much to say, to be honest. Three wins in a row for me... now I just have to try to keep the streak going!"
With many of the teams and drivers now travelling to Europe for next month's Le Mans 24 Hours, there's a two-month break on the ALMS calendar. The action continues at scenic Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on 17-18 July where de Ferran Motorsports will be targeting further success.
(Courtesy de Ferran Motorsports)