Team Penske announced on Thursday that they will enter an ORECO 07-Gibson chassis for the 2017 IMSA season ending Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta 10 hour race with two time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, three time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud sharing the driving duties at the event on Saturday 7th October.
Speaking about the race, Team Penske president Tim Cindric commented by saying:
We’ve had this race on our radar for some time, but we wanted to wait until we were able to get our drivers some testing at Road Atlanta prior to committing, as it is a very fast track and these cars are very different to drive from an IndyCar. “Unfortunately, we confirmed this the hard way as we have had to totally rebuild our car after an incident during testing last week. ORECA have bent over backwards to be sure we receive everything we need as they understand the importance of this race as our team prepares for the debut of our Acura ARX-05s at the Daytona 24.
Cindric went on to say:
Juan has participated in the majority of our prototype tests since we announced him as one of our full-time Acura drivers. We would also like to involve our other drivers in the program whenever possible. Helio and Simon have good experience in prototypes at Road Atlanta, so they seem like a natural fit to participate in the Petit for us.
Helio Castroneves who has just finished up his 18th season in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Team Penske commented by saying:
It will be fun to work with Juan again. “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.
Simon Pagenaud who drove the No.1 Chevrolet for Team Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series comes from a sports car background and speaking about the event the Frenchman commented by saying:
“It’s a bit of a homecoming to get back into a prototype car. “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 heads into the event as the most recent Verizon IndyCar Series race winner having taken victory in the season ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma which ensured that the Frenchman finished runner up in the championship to team mate and 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden.