Acura Motorsports will enter a fourth Acura ARX-01b sports car in the LMP2 class of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, company officials announced today. The newest Acura entry will be campaigned by De Ferran Motorsports, a newly formed team owned by former Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time CART Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran.
In addition to ownership of the Acura factory-backed organization, de Ferran will return to the cockpit as the team’s primary driver of the ARX-01b. A co-driver of the De Ferran Motorsports machine will be announced in the future.
Acura entered sports car racing in 2007 by fielding Acura-powered LMP2 prototype cars from Andretti Green Racing, Highcroft Racing and Lowe’s Fernandez Racing on the 12-race American Le Mans Series tour. The three-car contingent marked the first factory motorsports program in Acura’s 20-year history.
Headquarters for De Ferran Motorsports will be in the Indianapolis area, and veteran racing executive John Anderson has been named the team’s general manager. Sponsorship of the De Ferran Acura will be announced in the future.
“It is extremely exciting to be involved in the new Acura Motorsports program,” said de Ferran, who won a combined 12 races in his U.S. open-wheel career, in CART and the Indy Racing League. “The American Le Mans Series has a tremendous combination of technology and fierce competition. In addition, I am so eager to get back into the driver’s seat and on the track. The racing in the American Le Mans Series is spectacular. I know this program will be a challenge for me, both on and off the track. Having John Anderson on board is a great start for our organization, and we are working hard to put the remaining pieces together now.”
While the original three Acura teams will compete in all 12 American Le Mans Series events, the De Ferran team could enter the Series as early as the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 17-19.
De Ferran ventures into team ownership after serving as Sporting Director for the Honda Formula One racing team from 2005 to 2007. His most recent competition in a race car came at Texas Motor Speedway on October 12, 2003, when he drove to victory for Team Penske in the IndyCar Season finale. He retired from driving after that event.
The 2008 Acura American Le Mans Series program’s four cars will feature the new ARX-01b chassis developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD) and Wirth Research, as well as an updated, 3.4-liter normally-aspirated V-8 engine.
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