After announcing the entry in the 2018 season of two Acura ARX-05 DPis, Team Penske has now revealed the names of its three drivers set to compete at Petit Le Mans. To best prepare for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship season, Penske will enter an ORECA 07 in the finale of the 2017 championship at the Road Atlanta circuit October 4-7. For this return to prototypes, the American team is aiming high with a top-notch driver line-up: Juan Pablo Montoya, Hélio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.
Training in the trenches
With this “one shot” effort, the famous American team’s ambitions are clear: to highlight its big return to prototypes and benefit from real life training for the 2018 season in the DPi class by running the Acura ARX-05, based on the ORECA prototype.
To carry out its mission, the North Carolinian team has called upon a veritable dream team – Juan Pablo Montoya, Hélio Catroneves and Simon Pagenaud – three drivers with significantly dissimilar backgrounds, but one common denominator: each has been highly successful in the U.S. and internationally.
Montoya, the experience of Formula 1
Petit Le Mans will mark the first time the Columbian driver has taken the wheel of a prototype. With more than 90 Formula 1 Grand Prix to his credit, seven wins including Monaco, an IndyCar champion title in 1999 and three victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, there is no doubt of this exceptional driver’s ability to adapt.
Castroneves, a superstar in the U.S.
Hélio Castroneves’ journey is somewhat different, but the Brazilian driver is just as impressively competitive. He has one participation with a prototype to his name, at Petit Le Mans, ending in an LMP2 class win in 2008. He has won the Indy 500 three times and has been named IndyCar vice-champion three times as well. His familiarity with American circuits is unparalleled.
Pagenaud, close ties with ORECA
The French driver has not taken the wheel of a prototype since 2011. In 2008, he debuted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team ORECA and has since kept in close contact with the French company. With his win in the American Le Mans Series in 2010 and an IndyCar champion title in 2016, Simon brings top speed and his knowledge of prototypes to the quest to place the ORECA 07 on the top step of the podium.
For the finale of the championship, Team Penske will join forces with JDC Miller Motorsport and Rebellion Racing. For the first, this season has meant a rise in power, lacking only a win to concretize all the work achieved. For the second, after its participation in the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the ORECA 07’s first race, then in the 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans will serve as the third American race of the season. On the heels of a full FIA World Endurance Championship season and a victory at the 6 Hours of Mexico, the British team will draw from the full scope of its experience with the ORECA 07 as well at Petit Le Mans (two-time winner).
With these outstanding teams and drivers, there is no doubt of ORECA’s ambitions going in to the upcoming finale!