On December 8th, Sam Schmidt announced that Simon Pagenaud would drive the Honda-powered Dallara for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2012.
“I am delighted to be joining the IZOD Indy Car Series full time with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Honda,” Pagenaud said. “The series represents the most competitive racing in the world right now, and I am really looking forward to the challenge of racing in a single-seater again. I have to thank Sam Schmidt Motorsports for giving me the opportunity and to continue with the Honda engineers at HPD. It is the best situation I could wish for.”
The 27-year-old frenchman has driven a variety of cars throughout his career. In 2011, he finished second in both the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also raced V8 Supercars, Rally cars and made three IndyCar starts in 2011, filling in for injured drivers.
“We are very fortunate to land a driver of Simon’s caliber for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season,” Schmidt said. “As all the teams work to develop the new cars and engines, his diverse experience will be invaluable to us. Simon has a strong relationship with Honda and its engineers, which is also a huge asset. This is a big day for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.”
Pagenaud got his start racing go-karts and began moving his way up through the ranks throughout Europe from 1994 and 2005. In 2006, he made the move to Indianapolis and has since driven a variety of cars.
“America has been a lucky charm to me, really,” Pagenaud said. “The start of it was 2006, when I won the Champ Car Atlantic Championship with Walker Racing, which allowed me to enter the Champ Car Series in 2007.”
In his rookie season in 2007, he finished eighth in the standings.
In 2008 and 2009, Pagenaud won five American Le Mans Series LMP1 races, seven poles and several podium finishes. In 2010, he won the American Le Mans Series LMP1 championship with four wins and three poles.
Pagenaud’s car number and sponsorship package will be announced at a later date. The focus right now is on getting ready for 2012 with the new chassis that IndyCar is debuting.
“I know 2012 will be a big challenge with the new Dallara chassis and being on a new team but, quite frankly, that is what is so interesting,” Pagenaud said. “To fulfill a lifelong dream to race an Indy car and to compete in the Indianapolis 500 is a special time in my life. I can’t wait for the start of the season in St Petersburg. I also want to especially thank Sam Schmidt for giving me the opportunity to drive for his team and for my friends at HPD.”