Pagenaud had spoken with Peugeot and still dreams of Le Mans

After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2019 and the 24 Hours of Daytona this year, Simon Pagenaud intends to add a new major event to its already brilliant record. The Frenchman now has his sights set on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The pilot’s four previous attempts, including three with Peugeotall proved unsuccessful.

The only time Pagenaud saw the finish, in 2011, he crossed the line 13 seconds after the leading Audi. The duel had then been memorable. And with the French manufacturer’s return to Endurance scheduled for this year, it was « all natural » that Pagenaud comes to knock on the door of Peugeot for a possible tenure in the 9X8.

« As a Frenchman, I always work like crazy to get back to Le Mans and try to win. [les 24 Heures] »he told « I’m watching what’s happening with the LMH and LMDh categories carefully because I want to come back to Le Mans and tick that box after failing for 13 seconds in 2011. I want to win the big races. »

The Frenchman added that details of his conversations with Peugeot « would remain confidential » and that there was « many factors » that could prevent a new association with the lion mark.

Simon Pagenaud finished second at Le Mans in 2011 with Peugeot.

Simon Pagenaud finished second at Le Mans in 2011 with Peugeot.

At 37, Simon Pagenaud is at a turning point in his career since he left Penske to join Meyer Shank Racing in Indycar, where he is about to play his eleventh season. He does not hide that this commitment across the Atlantic is perhaps a brake for a presence at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, without however being totally incompatible. Only his priority at the moment remains the American single-seater.

« I have a long-term vision for my future in IndyCar »he assured. « I’m only 37 and I haven’t finished yet. There are IndyCar drivers like Sébastien [Bourdais] and Scott Dixon who have [participé aux 24H] in recent years, so it’s not impossible. I’m going to keep pushing the doors to see if I can make that possible. »

This year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans clashes with IndyCar’s race at Road America, with both events scheduled for the weekend of June 12. For Simon Pagenaud, the door could perhaps open from next year, when the LMDh regulations come into force and will allow racing with the same prototypes in WEC and IMSA. The bridges between the multiple programs of the manufacturers involved would then constitute an ideal opportunity.

Interview by Gary Watkins

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