Simon Pagenaud won this Sunday night, the Indianapolis 500. The Frenchman is the first to win the biggest race in the world since 1914! A remarkable feat, after a masterfully run race.
More than a century since a French driver had not tasted the milk served to the winner of the Indianapolis 500! Simon Pagenaud (Penske) succeeded on Sunday to René Thomas, in 1914, and to Jules Goux, in 1913. This victory, which allows him to enter the legend of the motor sport, was “the objective Number 1” of the champion IndyCar 2016 since its title.
“It’s hard to believe, the race was so intense, ” he said on the podium. We led the most part. The car was perfect, the yellow flags came at the right time, the stars aligned. It’s a dream come true, the work of a lifetime! I did not expect to get there but I certainly did everything for it. “
Simon Pagenaud, 35, also becomes the first Frenchman to win the Indianapolis 500 since 1914, having preceded on the line two former winners of the event, the American Alexander Rossi (Andretti) and the Japanese Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) .
He finished the best of manners a month of May dreamed, having won the Indianapolis Grand Prix on 11th and achieved last Sunday the pole position of Indianapolis 500, the first for a Tricolor since Thomas in 1919. For the record, only twenty drivers have won since pole at “Indy” before him, the last in … 2009!
The Frenchman, who had opted for an aggressive strategy, led in all 116 laps of 200 but his victory was played on the wire. In the 178th lap, he saw Rossi overtake him and ran the risk of running out of fuel to finish the race, but two successive accidents caused a healthy red flag two laps later.
Success had to be played in the last twenty loops. After this interruption, Rossi and Pagenaud kept on muting each other, until the Penske team driver took a decisive advantage two laps from the finish.
With this victory, he also leads the Championship with a point advantage over his American teammate Josef Newgarden. At the origin of the accident on lap 178, the other Habs Sebastien Bourdais (Dayle Coyne) was forced to retire. Pagenaud, who won one of the three most prestigious motorsport races with the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was born on May 18, 1984 in Montmorillon, near Poitiers.
His American dream was formed in 2006, when he went to try his luck in the United States in Formula Atlantic, to become champion in his first season. The Poitevin then flew in ChampCar (championship since absorbed by the IndyCar) and endurance, before finding in 2012 a full-time wheel in IndyCar, the American cousin of F1, after a replacement in 2011. Fifth in the Championship and best “rookie” (beginner) his first year, he offered the first of its now thirteen successes the following season, as well as the third place in the ranking of the pilots.
In 2015, he joined Penske, the most prestigious team in the category ( “like Ferrari in Europe” , he explains), to be able to aim for the title to which the observers like Eddie Cheever, ex-F1 driver and winner of the Indianapolis 500 Miles who became a consultant for ESPN, saw him promised.
Mission accomplished in 2016 for this first part and three years later, so for the second, the victory to “Indy” , which is one of the legends. Passionate about car racing, especially rallying, and very prolix on social networks (his dog Norman has even his Instagram account!), Pagenaud hopes that France will take a passion, like him, for the IndyCar.