IndyCar race winner will substitute for the injured Ryan Briscoe at the Level 5 American Le Mans Series squad at Road America this weekend.
The Frenchman, who raced one of the team’s HPD ARX-03b LMP2s in the Sebring 12 Hours ALMS opener in March, will drive alongside team boss Scott Tucker.
Briscoe will miss his second ALMS race in succession as he continues his recuperation from the wrist injuries he sustained in the first of the two IndyCar races at Toronto in July.
“Simon knows the team, knows the car and knows the track, and we know his performance capabilities,” Level 5 team manager David Stone said. “We didn’t want Ryan to have to drive with a brace on his wrist, because I know that with those kind of injuries there is always a chance of a relapse.”
Briscoe is scheduled to return to the cockpit with Panther Racing at the Sonoma IndyCar race on Aug. 25 and is due to complete the season with Level 5.
The second Level 5 HPD will be driven at Road America by team regular and ALMS P2 points leader Marino Franchitti and Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Ricardo Gonzalez, who contested three races with the team last year. His return to the team represents a change in strategy for Level 5, which normally runs Tucker in both its entries.
Stone explained that the team had made the change as a result of Tucker and Briscoe being docked points for the latter’s late-race clash with the Extreme Speed Motorsports driver Guy Cosmo at Lime Rock last month.
“This gives us a better chance of winning both the drivers’ and teams’ championships,” he said.
Stone said there was no decision on who will join the team regulars at the Petit Le Mans ALMS finale at Road Atlanta on Oct. 19. The team will need at least an additional two drivers, but Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who also drove at Sebring, will be on IndyCar duty that weekend and Gonzales will be competing in the World Endurance Championship.