Gil de Ferran, A Winner at Lime Rock
Photos via Alex von Kleydorff
Gil de Ferran had a short but winning legacy at Lime Rock Park.
De Ferran competed as a car owner/driver in the American Le Mans series in 2008 and 2009, racing both years at Lime Rock. His involvement in sports cars followed a successful career in IndyCar competition, winning 12 races, including the 2003 Indianapolis 500, and a pair of CART titles in 2000 and 2001.
In 2008, he returned from a four-year retirement to field the No. 66 de Ferran Motorsports Panasonic / ELS Surround Acura ARX-001 in the ALMS LMP2 category. At Lime Rock using the new track configuration for the first time, co-driver Simon Pagenaud qualified second, and joined de Ferran in finishing seventh in class and 14th overall in the Northeast Grand Prix.
De Ferran stepped up to the lead LMP1 class in 2009, fielding an Acura ARX-02a. The Northeast Grand Prix served as the fifth round of the American Le Mans season.
Pagenaud won the pole and joined de Ferran in scoring their third consecutive victory. De Ferran took the checkered flag 43-seconds ahead of the Acura of Scott Sharp and David Brabham, the only other car on the lead lap.
The team went on to win four straight races and five overall, finishing second in the championship behind Brabham and Sharp. De Ferran retired as a driver following the season, but had remained active in motorsports, including the role of sporting director for both BAR-Honda and then later McLaren in Formula One.
The beloved Brazilian race car driver, who lost his life suddenly to a heart ailment at age 56 on Dec. 29, enjoyed success both on and off the tracks, though his winning personality is perhaps his biggest legacy in motorsports. He made his contribution at circuits world-wide, including Lime Rock Park.