De Ferran set on new challenge

Gil de Ferran's retirement from driving has more to do with the future - and his team's intended move into IndyCar racing - than with the past

De Ferran set on new challenge

But the past holds some priceless memories for the 41-year-old Brazilian.

Shortly after winning the pole position for Saturday's American Le Mans Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, de Ferran announced his intention to retire from driving at the end of the season.

De Ferran says he wants to devote more time to operating de Ferran Motorsports, which hopes to field two-car teams in both the IndyCar Series and ALMS in 2010.

The decision ends a driving career that spanned 27 years and championships in every series in which de Ferran he competed.

"This has everything to do with the future," de Ferran said. "We want to expand our operation, and it's become harder and harder to split my time between driving and running the shop.

"I'm an all or nothing kind of guy, and for us to achieve this dream - to run a two-car operation in the IndyCar Series and a two-car team in the ALMS in 2010 - I need to focus on it 100 percent of my time.

"My life has always been about challenges, and that is the challenge that I find most important right now."

De Ferran previously retired shortly after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2003. However, he returned to the seat last year when he formed De Ferran Motorsports. Rumours have swirled that de Ferran wants to hire Scott Dixon to drive for his IndyCar team, but de Ferran downplayed that talk on Friday.

"I never made any bones about the fact that I consider Dixon to be one of the best drivers in the world; that's just a given," de Ferran said.

"Since I've said that we will always go for the best, it's natural to come to the conclusion that there's an attraction there, particularly since I've known him for years. But frankly, my answer to that is, 'Wouldn't that be nice?' I think he's in a good position where he is, but I don't know what his future is."

De Ferran showed that he hasn't lost anything as a driver with his lap of 1m09.443 around the 2.25-mile circuit on Friday in the #66 De Ferran Acura. However, he says the effort required by both driving the car and operating the team prevents him from doing either at the highest level.

"I'm interested in too many other things, which is kind of the reason I retired in the first place," de Ferran said. "I came back for a specific reason, and I feel like we have fulfilled that.

"We're at a point now where we're off and running, and I want to focus on the team. On the driving side, I demand very high standards of myself, and sometimes I felt that I fell short of that. I blame it on the fact that I'm too divided."

Among the highlights of his career were two CART championships, the Indy 500 win, his victory at Texas to end his open-wheel career, and a number of more specific moments.

"Certainly winning the Indy 500 is a huge part of that, particularly because it was my first race after breaking my back and missing a race," de Ferran said.

"There are many good memories. Sometimes it's not even a race win; sometimes I remember things like a particular pass or maneuver. Sometimes I even look on test sessions as memorable experiences.

"It's also about the people I've worked with - people like Jim Hall and Jackie Stewart and all those years I had with Penske Racing. I've been very fortunate."

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