Bathgate’s Marino Franchitti will join Aussie David Brabham and Frenchman Simon Pagenaud in Highcroft Racing’s American Le Mans Series line-up for the Sebring 12 Hours, Petit Le Mans and the ALMS round at Laguna Seca.
Franchitti, who drove for Dyson Racing in an LMP2 class Lola Mazda last season and took two LMP2 class victories, will share the factory-backed Acura ARX-01c in the same races this year as his brother, IndyCar champion Dario, contested with the team last year.
“It’s great to be joining the championship-winning team and linking up not only with last year’s two fastest drivers in LMP1 in the ALMS, but also two good friends,” 31-year-old Franchitti said today as he prepared to link up with the Connecticut-based Highcroft team which dominated the ALMS last year.
“Brabs, I’ve known and admired for years and Simon became a friend almost from the time he came to the ALMS.
“I’m very excited about my role with the team because I will not only be doing the races at Sebring, Laguna and Petit Le Mans, but I’ll also be attending all the other races in order to have a positive input into the development of the car.
“There are a lot of test miles planned for the championship defence so I know I won’t be idle. Duncan [Dayton, team boss] has made no secret of his desire to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours and to expand the team to a second car, so there are some great opportunities ahead.”
Franchitti — already one of the fastest sportscar racers in the world — took three pole positions, three fastest race laps and 10 podiums from 10 races last season, two of which were ALMS LMP2 class victories at Lime Rock Park and Petit Le Mans.
And team boss Dayton was quick to emphasise it’s Franchitti’s pace on the track which sealed his new position and had nothing to do with his surname.
“Believe me, Marino’s surname had nothing to do with the decision,’ Dayton stated. “He has been extremely impressive over the past couple of seasons and we jumped at the opportunity to grab him when he became available.
“We’ve been friends for quite a few years and he shares the same passion for the sport that we all have here in Danbury – both for modern and historic racing.
“We’re excited about his role for the team. We’re looking to build for the future and as we expand program, we’d like Marino to be a part of that.
“Brabs has played an integral role for our team and we want him to be a part our organisation for many years to come, but he may not want still to be behind the wheel in 10 years time.
“Bringing younger guys on board like Simon and Marino is important for securing our future. I’m truly excited about our line-up for the 2010 season and can’t wait to kick off our championship defence.”
Franchitti, plus Brabham and Pagenaud, will have their seat fittings next week and test the 2010 car for the first time the following week, ahead of the season-opening Sebring event on March 20.