Highcroft team to continue with Acuras in 2010
Duncan Dayton’s Patr¢n Highcroft Racing and Honda Performance Development will again team up in the American Le Mans Series with the 2009 LMP1 championship-winning outfit fielding a factory-backed Acura ARX-01c prototype for 2010. The highest-scoring Acura team for each of the past three seasons - and last year’s LMP1 champion - will race an iteration of the original Acura American Le Mans Series entry.
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing will be the exclusively designated test team for HPD. It is charged with evaluation of the new ARX-01c platform and the testing of a new HPD engine under consideration for the 2011 season.
“We are delighted to continue our relationship with Honda Performance Development,” Dayton said. “We will have the No. 1 on our car for 2010 and firmly believe the ARX-01c will give us the best opportunity to defend that championship. We are very much looking forward to continuing our working relationship with the team at HPD - they have played an integral role in our championship success.”
After making its debut in the championship in 2006, Patr¢n Highcroft has recorded key milestones on its way to championship success. The team scored factory Acura backing in 2007, secured the Patr¢n Spirits Company as a naming rights sponsor in 2008 and then collected the American Le Mans Series LMP1 championship this year.
Along the way the team also scored key milestones for Acura and HPD - recording the first overall American Le Mans Series win, the first LMP1 victory and now, the first LMP1 championship in the American Le Mans Series for the marque.
In fact, in 2009 Acura became the first manufacturer to win two class championships in a single season, with Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s LMP2 entry joining Patr¢n Highcroft's LMP1 assault as class title winners. During the past three seasons, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing has also grabbed seven class victories, four overall wins and six class pole positions.
For 2010, the LMP1 and LMP2 classes will be combined for the majority of the American Le Mans Series - only the season opener and closer, at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, respectively, will revert to full-ACO spec, Le Mans 24 Hour rules.
“We are awaiting full details from the ALMS, but we expect the LMP1 cars to be slowed and the LMP2 machines to be offered more performance freedoms,” Dayton said. “Everyone saw the performance of the ARX-01b at this year’s race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and we think this car will be a very wise weapon of choice for 2010.
“The combined prototype class is going to provide some extremely fierce competition and our team is very much looking forward to the fight,” he added. “In fact, we are extremely keen to investigate expanding our operation to put the budget in place to run a second car. We’re talking to a number of potential new marketing partners to add to our sponsorship portfolio - partners the team has been negotiating with and others who might be supporting a specific driver.
“The fact we were the top performing Acura squad in each of the past three seasons is a great achievement and a source of pride at Patr¢n Highcroft Racing and we are looking forward to working with HPD again next season.”
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing veteran David Brabham will return for his fourth consecutive season with the team. Brabham's teammates are expected to be announced in the near future.
The 2010 American Le Mans Series will conduct its annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway on February 22-23. The opening round of the championship will also be at Sebring - the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 20.