Franck Montagny is a former French racing driver who scored his best results in the sports car racing. He participated in 24 hours of Le Mans twelve times, scoring four overall podiums. He also recorded seven starts in the Formula One, driving for Super Aguri team in 2006. Earlier in a career, Montagny was a two-time champion of the World Series by Nissan in 2001 and 2003.
His last racing commitment was in the inaugural season of the Formula E with Andretti Motorsport. He participated in two opening races at the end of 2014 and then he was caught to use cocaine in March 2015, so he was disqualified from the championship and suspended by FIA.
Champion from the beginning of a career
Franck Montagny was born on January 5, 1978, in Feurs in central France. He started racing karts in 1988. Four years later, in 1992, he won a cadet class in the French Karting Championship and then the National 1 in 1993. He made his debut in cars in 1994, winning the French Renault Campus championship in his debut season.
Montagny spent next two seasons in the French Formula Renault. He was the best rookie and 4th overall in 1995, next season he missed half of the season because of injuries and finished sixth in the points. In 1997, Franck moved up to the French Formula Three, driving for the La Filiere Martini team. With four wins, he finished fourth in the points.
1998 - Formula 3 runner-up and Le Mans debut
In 1998, Montagny had a great season in the Formula 3, winning ten races and losing the championship title by three points to David Saelens.
In June 1998, Franck debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans, driving the #15 Courage C36-Porsche prototype for La Filiere team. His co-drivers were Henri Pescarolo and Olivier Grouilllard. They finished 15th overall and fourth in LMP1 class.
Two seasons with DAMS
For 1999 season, Montagny joined DAMS team to compete in the International Formula 3000. He spent two seasons in that competition, scoring only one podium (Hungaroring) in twenty races, to finish 12th in 1999 and 15th in 2000.
While driving for DAMS in the Formula 3000, Montagny was also driving for the team at Le Mans 24h and few races of the American Le Mans Series. After retiring in 1999, he finished 19th overall at 2000 Le Mans race, sharing the #3 Cadillac Northstar LMP with Eric Bernard and Emmanuel Collard.
Double champion in the World Series by Nissan
After two unsuccessful years in Formula 3000, Montagny moved to the World Series by Nissan in 2001, signing for the Epsilon by Graff team. He won eight races in his first season, dominantly taking the championship title.
In 2002, Montagny changed a team, driving for Racing Engineering. He finished as the runner-up behind Ricardo Zonta. In 2003, Franck changed a team again, moving to Gabord Competicion. He was a champion again, winning nine out of seventeen races.
Two Le Mans attempts with Team Oreca
While competing in the WSN, Montagny returned two times to Le Mans with Team Oreca. In 2001, he was sharing the #15 Chrysler LMP with Yannick Dalmas and Stephane Sarrazin. They retired after 126 laps.
Formula One test driver for Renault and Jordan
As a two-time WSN champion, Montagny earned a test with the Renault F1 team in 2003, becoming an official third driver for 2004 Formula 1 season. During 2004, he was also the chief test and development driver for the new GP2 Series, which would be powered by Renault engines.
In May 2005, Montagny joined Jordan Grand Prix as a Friday practice driver at the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring. He impressed everybody by setting faster lap times than Jordan's official drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro.
First podium at Le Mans 24 hours
In June 2005, Montagny participated for the sixth time at Le Mans 24h, one more time with Team Oreca. He was driving the #4 Audi R8 alongside Stephane Ortelli and Jean-Marc Gounon. They finished fourth overall.
A year later, in June 2006, Montagny finally reached an overall podium at Le Mans, in his seventh attempt. He was a member of the Pescarolo Sport's crew in the #17 Pescarolo C60-Judd, together with Sebastien Loeb and Eric Helary. They finished second, four laps behind Joest Racing's Audi R10 TDI.
Seven F1 starts with Super Aguri
For 2006 Formula One season, the Japanese Super Aguri team hired Montagny as the third driver. However, after the San Marino Grand Prix, Yuji Ide lost his superlicence and could no longer race in F1, so he was replaced by Montagny from the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring. After being the last qualifier, Montagny retired after 29 laps due to hydraulics problems.
He recorded one more DNF at Spanish Grand Prix and then finished 16th at Monaco Grand Prix. He repeated that result at French Grand Prix in July. After seven races, Montagny and third driver Sakon Yamamoto changed their positions, so Yamamoto was competing in seven races until the end of the season, Montagny was a test driver.
Montagny also tested for Toyota F1 team in September 2006 at Silverstone. A month later, Toyota confirmed that he would join the team as a test driver for the 2007 season. After spending a season as a test driver, Montagny left the team in November 2007.
2008 - one more podium at Le Mans
In 2008, Montagny started a year without a ride. His first race was the 24h Le Mans with Peugeot's factory team. He shared the #9 Peugeot 908 HDi with Ricardo Zonta and Christian Klien. They finished third overall.
On April 20, 2008, Montagny traveled to the United States to made his IndyCar/Champ Car debut with Forsythe/Pettit Racing at Long Beach Grand Prix. He finished in the second place. In April and May 2008, Montagny participated in two rounds of the A1 Grand Prix Series, driving for Team France at Shanghai International Circuit and Brands Hatch.
Two class wins and one overall triumph in the American Le Mans Series
In the second part of the year, Montagny joined Andretti Green Racing in the American Le Mans Series, participating in seven races with Acura ARX-01b LMP2 prototype. He scored two class wins at Detroit and Laguna Seca, finishing seventh in the points.
In 2009, Montagny participated with Peugeot Total team in two races of the American Le Mans Series, scoring an overall victory at Petit Le Mans and second place at Sebring 12h. Montagny also had a one-off appearance in the IndyCar Series, driving for Andretti Green Racing at Sonoma Grand Prix.
Third podium in a row at Le Mans
Montagny was a member of Peugeot Total team at 2009 24 hours of Le Mans, where he scored his third consecutive podium. His partners in the #8 Peugeot 908 HDi were Sebastien Bourdais and Stephane Sarrazin. They finished second behind team colleagues in the #9 car.
In 2010, Montagny continued to drive for Peugeot in different competitions, including 24h Le Mans, where he didn't reach the finish. He was more successful in other races, winning two times (Petit Le Mans and 1000 km of Zhuhai) and scoring a podium at Spa 1000 kilometers.
During 2010, Montagny also participated in the Superleague Formula, driving for Girondins de Bordeaux team in twelve races. He won one race, at Jarama, to finish 11th in the points.
Third win at Petit Le Mans, fourth podium at Le Mans
In 2011, Montagny had one more successful season with Peugeot. He started a season with podiums at Sebring 12h and Spa 1000km. In June, Stephane Sarrazin and Nicolas Minassian were his partners at Le Mans 24h, where they finished 3rd overall in the #8 Peugeot 908. It was fourth and the last Le Mans podium for Montagny.
Later in the year, he scored podiums at Imola and Zhuhai, but the highlight of the season was his third consecutive win at Petit Le Mans.
2012 – last Le Mans attempt and Australian guest appearance
In 2012, at the age 34, Montagny's career was fading out. He participated in only two sport car races with prototypes. At Laguna Seca's ALMS race, he scored an LMP2 class win with Level 5 Motorsports' HPD ARX-03b, sharing the car with Scott Tucker and Luis Diaz. At 24 hours of Le Mans, his last in a career, he was a member of the OAK Racing's #15 crew, driving the Pescarolo-Judd prototype with Bertrand Baguette and Dominik Kraihamer. They retired after 219 laps.
In October 2012, Montagny had an interesting guest appearance in the Australian V8 Supercars Championship. He participated at Gold Coast 600 at Surfers Paradise, sharing the Kelly Racing's Holden with Karl Reindler.
Come back with Andretti Autosport
After a full season without racing, Franck returned to the race track as a competitor in May 2014, driving for Andretti Autosport at Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He retired after 47 laps due to contact, being classified as 22nd.
In September 2014, he was a part of Andretti's line-up in the first race of the first season of the Formula E Championship, at the street circuit in Beijing. The leaders Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost collided on the last lap. It promoted Lucas di Grassi to the race winner and Franck Montagny finished second.
FIA's suspension because of positive doping test
In November's race at Putrajaya, Montagny had an incident with Heidfeld during the race. Heidfeld dropped out from the race, Montagny reached the finish but he was disqualified a few months later (March 2015) when he was found positive in the anti-doping test. He was positive for cocaine derivative Benzoylecgonine.
It was probably the end of his career because he gets a two-year ban from the FIA.