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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Pagenaud wants to be back at Le Mans "every year" after 12-year absence

Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud says he hopes to make the Le Mans 24 Hours a regular part of his calendar as he ends a 12-year hiatus in LMP2.

#47 Cool Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson of Reshad De Gerus, Vladislav Lomko, Simon Pagenaud

The 2016 IndyCar champion and 2019 Indy 500 winner with Team Penske forms part of Cool Racing’s roster in the LMP2 ORECA-Gibson 07 over a decade after his last Le Mans appearance when he finished second with Peugeot in 2011. 

The Meyer Shank Racing IndyCar driver has regularly competed in sportscars in the meantime however, finishing second in the Daytona 24 Hours with an Action Express Cadillac in 2021 before winning each of the last two editions with MSR Acuras.

Pagenaud comes into the Cool lineup alongside European Le Mans Series team regulars Reshad de Gerus and Vladislav Lomko to replace Jose Maria Lopez, who is contesting Le Mans for Toyota.

When asked by Autosport if he’d be eager for more Le Mans appearances in future, Pagenaud said: “I want to be back every year, I have been wanting to be back every year.

“I have had issues with schedule conflicts with IndyCar schedule. Now that Roger Penske owns IndyCar, I think it’s going to be a lot easier since he has a team in the [World Endurance Championship] series here.

“I hope the schedule stays open and I want to be able to come back.

“Obviously my goal is to come back and try to be in a situation to compete for the win.”

Pagenaud made his Le Mans debut in 2008 with an ORECA-Courage before forming part of Peugeot’s lineup in each of the next three seasons prior to its withdrawal.

The American Le Mans Series champion revealed there had been “a lot of talks” in the years since his last appearance but had not come to fruition.

#47 Cool Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson of Reshad De Gerus, Vladislav Lomko, Simon Pagenaud

#47 Cool Racing Oreca 07 - Gibson of Reshad De Gerus, Vladislav Lomko, Simon Pagenaud

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

“With many different manufacturers, teams and there has been incredible interest which I feel very grateful for,” he said.

“One of the things that has changed since I was here back in 2011 is you could just do a one-off back in those days because the WEC series wasn’t yet formed, so you didn’t have to do the full season.

“Now, the drivers in the lineup, they have full-season drivers and if you want to do a one-off, there are no seats.

“So this opportunity was perfect because it was an invitation. And I’m going to find a way to make it work in the future.”

Pagenaud revealed that his deal with Cool team co-owner Nicolas Lapierre was concluded rapidly over the Daytona 24 Hour weekend in January.

“Honestly this did happen very quickly,” he explained.

“I basically saw [Lapierre] in Daytona, I said ‘hey Nico, I heard you might have an invitation for Le Mans, I want to do Le Mans big time’ and he said, ‘okay, let’s talk tomorrow’.

“And the next day the thing was done, so it went pretty quick. When things are meant to happen, they happen very quickly usually.”

Having missed Sunday’s Test Day while contesting IndyCar’s Detroit round, Pagenaud completed his first track running in Wednesday’s opening practice session.

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