In his first race with Meyer Shank Racing, Simon Pagenaud won the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona together with his team-mates Helio Castroneves, Tom Blomqvist, and Oliver Jarvis. It is the first victory of the Frenchman at Daytona.
The French driver reacts to this brilliant win :
Simon Pagenaud: “It was an incredible race because of the very high level of competition as well as the number of cars, 61, which generates a lot of traffic that is quite difficult to manage. The pace changed with a GTD class that had more cars and was closer in speed to the GTMLs, so we had to adapt a lot. In the same way, the speed of the LMP3s was more difficult to judge compared to the LMP2s. Overall, the Acura performed very well.
It was my first race with Meyer Shank Racing, so for me, it was the first opportunity to work with Mike Shank, the whole endurance team, Helio (Castroneves) as well as my team-mates Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis who are great endurance drivers. The four of us get along really well. We had an excellent strategy. We saved fuel throughout the race to shorten the last pit stop which allowed us to gain ground in the race. We also kept the car in one piece all the way which made for a healthy car at the end of the race. I was the man of the night. So, I had stints that were very difficult to manage, with temperatures below 0 °C, which is exceptionally cold for Florida. The all-condition Michelin tires were difficult to get up to temperature, especially straight after a pit stop. We had to be very vigilant.
But we were able to save a lot of time in some of my stints thanks to the pit stops. My stints were focused on saving fuel to help the team have the best position possible at the end of the race. So overall, it was a very good experience. I had some great battles on the track with Felipe Albuquerque, Will Stevens, and Loic Duval among others. It was a pleasure to return to Daytona and get back on track for the start of the 2022 season, with my focus being on INDYCAR with Meyer Shank Racing.
Daytona was also an opportunity to test my fitness level which is very good as well as my mental preparation which was good this winter. Victory at Daytona is another dream come true after having won the Indianapolis 500 and an INDYCAR Championship. Daytona is one of the legendary races that I wanted to win. My trophy cabinet continues to fill up, and that makes me very happy. And it makes me think for the future about the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was a great end to the day for me and Meyer Shank Racing. We have started the year on a high!”
Simon Pagenaud will start the 2022 INDYCAR season February 27 in St Petersburg.