Saulnier Racing has finally confirmed that Ryo Fukuda will team up with Simon Pagenaud in this year's World Series by Renault, having tested the Japanese driver on several occasions in recent weeks.
The former BAR F1 test driver will be the only Japanese driver in the series, but will benefit from prior knowledge of the Saulnier outfit, having run with it in the former Nissan World Series. Fukuda won the French F3 championship back in 2001, before graduating to FNissan and claiming a podium at the first race of 2004 at Jarama. His signing comes with the promise of sponsorship from Japanese consortium, DHG Car Sales, which specialises in importing American cars into Japan, as well as two other Japanese companies, Open Interface and Total Promotion.
With the promising Pagenaud, who has regularly featured towards the top of the testing times, already on board and testing extensively ahead of the coming season, team boss Serge Saulnier believes that he has a blend of youth and experience which could guide his team to the front of the field.
“I am very happy to have an experienced driver alongside Simon, and especially one who already knows the team," Saulnier admitted, "Ryo lacks training, as he had not driven since the start of last season, so we have made plans for him to move to Magny-Cours, so he will be close to the team, and in almost permanent contact with us. We are also setting up a specific training programme for him, with one of our old Dallara Nissan 'Light' cars.”