The second straight success for de Ferran Motorsports in Sunday's Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsport Park was also the 100th overall race victory in 103 American Le Mans Series event for tyre supplier Michelin.
Leading all but two of the 103 laps around the 3.048-mile circuit, owner/driver Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud dominated the caution-free event from start to finish to take victory by an unusually large 73.693secs, providing themselves with a fitting first anniversary celebration into the bargain.
“The car was brilliant, one of the best I have ever driven,” former Indy 500 winner and IndyCar series champion de Ferran commented, “We could have double-stinted our Michelin tyres, but we had such a nice lead that there was no need for it. This new Acura prototype is a very new concept, with large Michelin tyres on the front and rear, and we are on a steep learning curve, but we are getting a better understanding of what is happening when we make changes.
"Even when we try something that does not work it is becoming clearer what we need to do. We made two changes Saturday and one yesterday, but they were three good decisions. We hit the nail right on the head.”
In the last month alone, co-driver Pagenaud has scored poles and wins with de Ferran Acura at the Long Beach and Utah events, sandwiched around a pole and race win at Spa in his first race with the Le Mans-bound Peugeot prototype, also a Michelin technical partner team.
“Simon has quickly grown from a promising young driver into one of the best sportscar drivers in the world,” de Ferran said of his 25-year old team-mate, whom he plucked from the remains of the Champ Car World Series.
A distant second on the road at MMSP was the similar Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura of Scott Sharp and David Brabham, while the LMP2 class-winning Lowe's Fernandez Acura completed the overall podium, having emerged victorious by less than a second in a strategic battle with the fleet Dyson Lola-Mazdas.
Michelin also enjoyed great success in the GT category, sweeping the podium with the Flying Lizard Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long taking the victory ahead of the Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb. In an impressive comeback, the Risi Competizione Ferrari of Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer fought back after being spun at the start and dropping two laps behind to claim third place in the GT2 class.
All three teams will compete at the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hours, where they will be joined by a number of Michelin technical partner teams, including the Audi, Peugeot and Corvette squads that all competed at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Michelin has won the 24 Hours for the last eleven years.
“Securing the 100th win in the series for Michelin is a reflection of the tremendous talent and efforts that our manufacturers, technical partner teams, drivers, engineers and our Michelin technical centres and engineers have brought into the series,” the tyre brand's motorsport manager, Silvia Mammone, commented, “Now we wish good luck to all of our Michelin teams and drivers competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”