De Ferran A Winner at Mid-Ohio
Gil de Ferran ended an emotional weekend Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by sitting on the side of his Acura prototype in tears.
The Brazilian driver won the pole position Friday in qualifying for the Acura Sports Car Challenge and immediately announced he is retiring from driving at the end of the 2009 American Le Mans Series season to concentrate on the management of his de Ferran Motorsports organization.
On Saturday, de Ferran teamed with young French star Simon Pagenaud in driving the No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a sports car to a fourth consecutive overall victory in the hotly contested, two-hour, 45-minute feature on the tough 2.25-mile road circuit.
The de Ferran team led the fourth Acura 1-2-3 finish of the year.
Adding to the emotional victory was the team’s return to the venue that saw crewman Keith Jones critically burned during a pit fire in last year’s ALMS race. Jones endured third-degree burns and several skin grafts before returning to the de Ferran team in March. As de Ferran crossed the finish line some 8.3 seconds ahead of David Brabham’s Patrón Highcroft Acura, the former Indy 500 winner yelled on the team’s radio, “Jonesie, this win is for you.” Few members of the de Ferran team could keep a dry eye when Gil jumped from his car’s cockpit and Jones hugged de Ferran in victory lane.
Early in the race, Pagenaud held a six-second margin over Scott Sharp in the Patrón Acura ARX-02a. But he extended his advantage when Sharp’s car was hit by a slower GT car. The bodywork of the Patrón machine was damaged, forcing Sharp to slow before Brabham took over the driving chores. The de Ferran team never lost the lead after de Ferran began his driving stint on Lap 52.
De Ferran’s team also captured the Michelin Green X Challenge for the best fuel economy for a prototype car in the race.
The Lowe’s Fernandez Acura team rounded out the top three overall spots Saturday with a sensational LMP2 victory for drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz. Scoring their fifth 2009 class win, the Lowe’s team used tremendous pit stop strategy to take the lead and extend its class point lead.
The American Le Mans Series returns to Road America on Aug. 16 for the next ALMS event.No Comment