American Le Mans Series: Pagenaud, Wills Join Muscle Milk Pickett Racing
Frenchman returning to seat in an HPD at Sebring
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has completed its driver lineups for the season opening race with the signing of former American Le Mans Series Champion Simon Pagenaud to the team’s LMP1 car and Roger Wills to its LMPC entry.
Pagenaud, who was one of the team’s biggest rivals, will now be joining Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr aboard the HPD ARX-03a LMP1 prototype for the 60th anniversary race of the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The Frenchman won the 2010 ALMS Championship with Highcroft Racing ahead of the Muscle Milk team, scoring four wins in an HPD ARX-01c. His last ALMS start came at the 12 Hours of Sebring last season, where he finished second.
Before joining Highcroft Racing in 2010, Pagenaud spent a couple of seasons with de Ferran Motorsports with whom he started his career in the sports car series. Since his debut in 2008, he has made 28 starts, finished on the podium 21 times and scored nine wins, all aboard a Honda Performance Development prototype.
Additionally, the driver who will be competing full time in INDYCAR this season finished second in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans with Peugeot and is the 2006 Formula Atlantic Champion.
Pagenaud will be present with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing at the ALMS Winter Test this week, February 8 and 9, at Sebring International Raceway.
New Zealand native, Roger Wills will be making his first appearance in the ALMS LMPC class this season when he joins regular drivers Mike Guasch and Memo Gidley for Sebring, Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta.
Wills competed in the International Le Mans Cup GTE Pro-Am class in 2011, finishing fourth in the championship standings. He made his international GT racing debut in 2010 and went on to win the GT4 class at the Spa 24 Hours.
Prior to his move to GT racing, the 2004 Silverstone Motorsport Academy graduate raced historic cars and has become over the years one of the most prominent historic racers. Wills has recorded numerous wins across the world in sports cars from the 50s to Formula 1 cars from the 70s.
Some of his historic racing highlights include wins at the Le Mans Classic and Goodwood Revival as well as the fastest time of the day at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in a Williams FW05.
The 60th annual 12 Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida, Round 1 of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season, takes place March 17, 2012.
Muscle Milk Quotes
Greg Pickett, team owner Muscle Milk Pickett Racing
“Simon is one tough competitor as we’ve seen over the past few years and it was always great fun racing against him, but I think it will be even more fun for everyone on the team to have him racing with us! We’re very excited to have him join Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. Simon has a lot of experience in an HPD prototype and as I’ve said before, he’s blindingly fast. He will make a great combination with Klaus and Lucas.
“We’re also pleased to welcome Roger Wills to our LMPC team. He has a great amount of experience racing different types of cars and has an impressive background in the short amount of time he’s been racing. I look forward to seeing him behind the wheel of our Challenge car alongside Mike and Memo.”
Simon Pagenaud, driver #6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing LMP1 HPD ARX-03a
“I’m delighted to be taking on this new challenge and very happy to be joining Muscle Milk Pickett Racing for the first race of the ALMS season. They were my greatest competitor for the last few years and they are a great team with fantastic people and drivers. I will do my best to represent them as well as possible and I will use all my experience aboard the previous versions of the HPD prototypes that I have driven to help the team.
“It is a little bit of a love story with Honda. I’ve driven all sorts of their cars from the Honda FIT, to sports cars and they’ve helped me reach my goal to get into INDYCAR. That said, when I heard they were coming out with the HPD ARX-03a P1 prototype, I was very interested in participating in the 12 Hours of Sebring. I talked to HPD with Greg and Klaus about this great opportunity and we connected all the dots.
“It will be an interesting season, full of challenges, in INDYCAR and sports car racing.”
Roger Wills, driver #5 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing LMPC Oreca FLM09
“I’m very excited about joining Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in the LMPC car for selected races in the ALMS season this year. I’ve been very impressed with the team in my discussions so far and from what I have seen of them at previous events. Both Memo Gidley and Mike Guasch have a huge amount of experience and seem super focused on doing well in the class this season so it is great to be joining them.
“It will be my first experience in a modern prototype but I’ve driven a lot of quick historic cars including F1, CanAm and Group C machinery so I am confident I will adapt quickly and hopefully get up to speed and do a good job for the team. Due to family and business commitments, I couldn’t commit to a full season in 2012 but I really enjoyed my debut at Sebring and Petit Le Mans in 2011 with CRS, so I’m delighted to be back at these great events with such a top team this year.”
Source: American Le Mans Series