Retiring de Ferran to be honoured

Gil de Ferran will serve as Grand Marshal for the American Le Mans Series season finale at Laguna Seca next weekend to mark his retirement from the cockpit

Retiring de Ferran to be honoured

The Brazilian announced in August that he will step down from driving duties in his De Ferran Motorsports team's Acura at the end of the year.

His role as Grand Marshal will include giving the 'start your engines' command to the field at the beginning of the race.

In addition, the De Ferran Acura will carry a special white livery at Laguna Seca in deference to his mentor Jim Hall's Chapparral sportscars of the 1960s. De Ferran began his American racing career - which saw him win two Champ Car titles and the Indianapolis 500 - with Hall's team in 1995.

"It's going to be an emotional occasion and a great honour to be Grand Marshal," said de Ferran.

"Along with Roger Penske and Jackie Stewart, Jim Hall has been one of the three greatest mentors during my career. Interestingly, I won my first IndyCar race with Jim at Laguna in 1995 and enjoyed two successful seasons racing for him when I first came to America.

"And it's in respect of what Jim did for me that since we established de Ferran Motorsports our Acuras have been running the same number 66 that he used on so many of his iconic Chaparrals. Now we are going one step further by recreating the famous Chaparral livery for my final race in California."

Hall, who will attend the event, said he appreciated de Ferran's generous gesture.

"It's very nice that Gil has chosen to honor me in some way at what's obviously a very special event for him," said Hall.

"We certainly had a good run with him for a couple of years and I really enjoyed watching his career develop thereafter. It gave me a lot of satisfaction seeing him do so well.

"He kindly gives me a lot of credit for the part I played in boosting his career along but Gil did it for himself - he's the guy with the talent and the skill plus the work ethic needed to succeed. I give him at least 99 per cent of the credit but I greatly appreciate the fact that he's thankful for the part I played in his career."

Laguna will mark the second time that de Ferran has retired from competition, as he had previously stopped racing at the end of the 2003 IndyCar season. After a period running the Honda Formula 1 team, he retired to the US to establish De Ferran Motorsports last year.

He will continue to head the team after his retirement from the cockpit, and is working on adding an IndyCar arm alongside the squad's sportscar programme.

De Ferran and team-mate Simon Pagenaud still have an outside chance of the ALMS LMP1 title going to Laguna, as they trail Highcroft's David Brabham and Scott Sharp by 21 points with 25 available in the finale.

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