With the required paperwork now signed it can now be confirmed that current Acura Team Penske star Juan Pablo Montoya will join United Autosports for the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours in the team’s LMP2 class #32 Ligier JS P217 Gibson LMP2 with Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to experience Le Mans and I’m looking forward to joining United Autosports after they had such a strong finish at Le Mans last year,” Montoya said. “I’ve always watched the race so I’m very happy to finally be part of it. Hopefully we can have a shot at a win.”
Auto Hebdo in France were the first to reveal that talks were underway between the 42 year old double Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix winning driver and the UK-based, US flagged team co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean but the final agreement was a little longer in coming.
And there’s little doubt that the Colombian superstar has his eyes set on a potential future programme to challenge for an overall win to complete the elusive ‘Triple Crown’. He told RACER’s Marshall Pruett last week that “If I were to do it, it would be more towards the future to learn the track.”
In the past, Montoya tested with the now defunct Porsche LMP1 team at the post WEC season test at Bahrain in 2015 but no race deal emerged before the programme was ceased at the end of the 2017 season.
Montoya has an unusually diverse racing CV in the modern era: After taking the F3000 Championship he became the youngest ever winner in the Champcar Series the following year before a one off at Indianapolis in 2000 with Chiop Ganassi Racing yielded his first Indy 500 win. Six seasons in Formula One with Williams and McLaren yielded seven Grand Prix wins and 13 pole positions before Montoya shifted his focus back to the United States.
There was a pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in a seven season spell with Ganassi in Stock cars, but that period also yielded three wins at the Rolex 24 Hours in 2007/8 and 2013, with a pair of second place finishes in 209 and 2011.
Indycar beckoned next as Montoya switched to Team Penske with three full time seasons seeing him take four race wins, second in the Championship in 2015 in a season that also yielded his second Indy 500 victory
“I watched Juan Pablo race against us at Daytona this year and was so impressed by him through the traffic, he definitely hasn’t lost any of his speed or determination,” concluded United team owner Richard Dean.
“He’s a great character so I have no doubt that he will fit into the team well at Le Mans. Although it will be his first Le Mans venture, he has a vast amount of racing experience, including wins at the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500, meaning this Le Mans venture could be a chance for him to win the triple crown of motorsport.
“Either way, I’m looking forward to welcoming Juan Pablo to the team.”