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Pagenaud to return to Le Mans with Cool Racing after decade absence

IndyCar racer Simon Pagenaud will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time in over a decade this year after securing an LMP2 seat with Cool Racing.

Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing Honda

The 2016 IndyCar champion and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner will share an ORECA 07-Gibson entered by Cool Racing with Reshad De Gerus and Vladislav Lomko in the centenary edition of the French enduro, joining the 24-car LMP2 field.

It will mark the French driver’s first race appearance at Circuit de la Sarthe since 2011, when he finished second overall in a Peugeot 908 LMP1 car behind the race-winning Audi R18 TDI.

Although Pagenaud's last race at Le Mans preceded the formation of the present-day World Endurance Championship, he has been a regular in prototypes in the IMSA SportsCar Championship in recent seasons and secured back-to-back victories at the Daytona 24 Hours with Meyer Shank Racing this season.

"I'm back to Le Mans! I’m so delighted that the stars have finally aligned for this to happen,” said the 38-year-old, who claimed the American Le Mans Series title in 2010. 

“This 2023 season is going to be amazing. The 24 Hours of Daytona, Indianapolis 500, and Le Mans are the number one motorsport events and I’m going to take part in all three of them the same year. I love that! 

“I'm looking forward to this great experience. COOL Racing/CLX Motorsport is a young team yet they manage to race at the front in a very competitive class, that’s exciting!”

Pagenaud comes into the Cool Racing lineup to replace Jose Maria Lopez, the Toyota Hypercar racer who will join De Gerus and Lomko for the full European Le Mans Series. 

Cool Racing will enter two cars at Le Mans this year, with the second entry to be crewed by fellow ELMS entrants Alexandre Coigny, Nicolas Lapierre and Malthe Jakobsen in the Pro-Am sub-division.

#37 Cool Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson: Alexandre Coigny, Malthe Jakobsen, Nicolas Lapierre

#37 Cool Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson: Alexandre Coigny, Malthe Jakobsen, Nicolas Lapierre

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

It means Lapierre will be back at Le Mans for a 15th consecutive season, despite stepping down from his Alpine duties to focus on the development of the French manufacturer’s LMDh contender for 2024.

“For this edition, the team’s clearly moving up a gear, lining up two LMP2 ORECA 07s,” said team manager Anthony Megevand. 

“It’s both an honour and a great responsibility: we’ll have to be on it and up to Le Mans standard, in the most competitive and jam-packed class! But we’ve devised our programme and composed our crews with this in mind. 

“Simon will be of great support to our team on many levels. He’s technical, experienced, and fast. We know him and we want to write a beautiful story together. With Reshad and Vladislav, the #47 car will be a strong contender.”

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