Moonlighting IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud wins first career rally event

2 Comments

There’s nothing like racing in front of your hometown crowd to get a driver pumped up more than usual.

That was the case this past weekend as French driver Simon Pagenaud won his first-ever rally race in front of many of his friends and family in the Rallye National de la Vienne.

“What a weekend!” said Pagenaud, 29. “I’m obviously delighted to have won my first rally in my home part of France and with the backing of the local regional authorities.

“It didn’t take me long to feel comfortable enough in the Peugeot to start pushing hard. The conditions changed drastically throughout the race, but we managed to adapt, and our pace notes were perfect.”

Pagenaud, who drives in the IndyCar series for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, often moonlights in other series, including rally racing and other forms of sports car competition.

His win came in the March 7-8 event in and around his native La Vienne region of France. Piloting a Team FJ-prepared Peugeot S2000, Pagenaud and co-driver Manu Dechatre outlasted several other French drivers to take the checkered flag.

“The support of all my partners enabled me to indulge my passion for rallying once again behind the wheel of what was, frankly, an incredible car,” Pagenaud said. “The only frustrating thing was that it was over so quickly, and I had to hand back the keys of the car!”

Check out the highlight video of Pagenaud’s win below:

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”