With Scott Sharp having left the team to set up his own GT2 outfit for 2010, American Le Mans Series title winners Patron Highcroft Racing has named Frenchman Simon Pagenaud as his replacement for the defence of its crown.

Pagenaud, who has spent recent seasons running with rival Acura outfit de Ferran Motorsports, will join forces with David Brabham in a formidable looking line-up as Duncan Dayton's team looks to fight for the title again in 2010 with its revised ARX-01c machine.

Having previously run in single-seaters in the Champ Car World Series, Pagenaud moved into sportscars in 2008 as partner to Gil de Ferran and was one of the stars of the 2009 season as he took three poles, five wins and six fastest laps in the ten ALMS events.

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Pagenaud also ran worked with new team-mate Brabham in the Le Mans Series event at Spa with the factory Peugeot team, with Pagenaud taking victory alongside Nicolas Minassian and Christian Klein.

"I'm very excited about 2010," Pagenaud said. "The last two years in the American Le Mans Series have been very important for my career and I am looking forward to returning as a driver for the Patron Highcroft Racing Team along side David Brabham who I have a lot of respect for.

"I am delighted to be part of Duncan Dayton's Patron Highcroft organisation and to continue my relationship with Honda Performance Development. When I made the decision to move to the US it was to focus on open wheel racing, but then an opportunity opened up for me in ALMS with Gil De Ferran and now to continue on racing here in the States with Patr?n Highcroft Racing is great. I am really looking forward to next year!

"Joining the Patron Highcroft Racing squad is a very exciting challenge. I enjoyed driving the ARX-01b in 2008 and the car went through a lot of development that year. I am looking forward to the updates on the ARX-01c for the 2010 season to make it even more competitive than it already is.

"The combined prototype class concept is very interesting. The regulations on equivalency for prototypes will be key and very important in providing good racing."

Team boss Duncan Dayton was quick to welcome Pagenaud into the fold, admitting he is a driver he wanted to be 'fighting for us, rather than against us'.

"Simon has been impressive throughout his career, particularly since his debut in the American Le Mans Series," he said. "He is someone we have had our eye on and were worried about when he was competing against us because he is bloody quick.

"When the opportunity arose to secure his services for Patr?n Highcroft Racing, we jumped at it. It was an obvious choice, because we will be able to plug him straight into our programme. He is familiar with the car, the series and the tracks. He knows a lot of our guys, so we will be able to immediately start serious testing.

"I think we are going to have a seriously fast driver pairing with Simon and David. We'd rather have Simon fighting for us, rather than against us, so it will be great to have him in Patron Highcroft colors next year.

"Simon is also very young, so he has an amazing future ahead of him. He and David get on very well and I think they will really push us forward for 2010 as we defend our championship."