Ever since the Acura Team Penske DPi effort for 2018 was announced, there have been inklings that Penske was going to enter the Motul Petit Le Mans as a dress rehearsal. On Thursday, Team Penske made it official.
Team Penske has filed an entry for next weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans. The press release doesn’t outright state the chassis that the team will be using, but references to a recent testing crash indicate that the team will be using an ORECA 07-Gibson. A number for the car has not been mentioned either. However, pictures have indicated that Team Penske has been using No. 6 while testing the Acura ARX-05.
The driving team has varying amounts of experience in sports car racing, but plenty of experience with Team Penske. Juan Pablo Montoya, who will drive for the team full-time in 2018, will be joined by Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.
Castroneves is looking forward to working with Montoya.
“It will be fun to work with Juan again,” Castroneves said in the press release. “The car is a blast to drive as it has lots of power and an incredible amount of downforce. The last time I ran at Petit, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the winning team in our class. It was one of the highlights of my career. Now, I’m looking forward to that challenge again and I’m sure it will be fun racing with these guys in this setting.”
As Castroneves stated, he won the LMP2 class in the Petit Le Mans back in 2008. For that race, Team Penske fielded three Porsche RS Spyders and the part-time third car for Castroneves and current GT Le Mans regular Ryan Briscoe took the spoils. Not only is that the only time Castroneves has raced at Road Atlanta, it is the most recent time that Castroneves competed in a sports car race.
Pagenaud, who has competed at Road Atlanta as recently as last year, was a bit more matter of fact about the drive.
“It’s a bit of a homecoming to get back into a prototype car,” Pagenaud said. “They are great cars to drive and to be paired with Juan and Helio in an endurance event is going to be a lot of fun. This is a chance for me to help Team Penske prepare for next year, while seeing what things we can learn and where we can improve right now.”
Pagenaud has four previous starts in the Motul Petit Le Mans. In 2010, he won the LMP2 class for Highcroft Racing alongside David Brabham and Marino Franchitti. Last year, he finished fourth overall in Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Chevrolet Corvette DP.
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