De Ferran, Patrón Highcroft Teams To Field ARX-02a Cars In Premier Series Class,
Lowe’s Fernandez Team To Continue Racing Acura In LMP2 Division In 2009Acura Motorsports will enter the LMP1 class in the 2009 American Le Mans Series, company officials announced today.
Acura’s entry into the most powerful and technically advanced division in ALMS willfeature two Acura ARX-02a prototype sports cars developed by Honda Performance Develop-ment (HPD).
De Ferran Motorsports and Patrón Highcroft Racing will campaign the new AcuraLMP1 cars, which are being designed in concert with Wirth Research in England. Testing ofthe new Acura LMP1 cars is scheduled for November.
Acura will also continue in the LMP2 category with the Lowe’s Fernandez team com-peting on the 2009 ALMS tour.
Acura entered sports-car racing in 2007 by fielding Acura-powered LMP2 prototypecars on Michelin tires for Andretti Green Racing, Highcroft Racing and Lowe’s Fernandez Rac-ing in the 12-race ALMS series. The three-car contingent marked the first factory motorsportsprogram in Acura’s 20-year history. De Ferran Motorsports was added to the Acura lineup in2008.
In the past year and a half, the Acura machines, with 3.4-liter, V-8 powerplants, havescored five LMP2 class victories, as well as an overall win by Patrón Highcroft Racing anddrivers David Brabham and Scott Sharp earlier this year at Lime Rock Park. Acura cars alsohave recorded four overall pole positions.
“Since launching the Acura American Le Mans Series program in 2007, our goal hasalways been to compete at the highest level of sports-car racing,” said John Mendel, Execu-tive Vice President of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Company, Inc. “The LMP1class of the American Le Mans Series represents the pinnacle of sports-car racing in thiscountry, from both a competitive and technological standpoint. As we prepare to elevate Acurato Tier One status among luxury road cars, we feel it only appropriate to make this move to theuppermost level of American Le Mans Series competition, as well.”
The Acura Motorsports program featured the first racing engine and chassis primarilydesigned and developed by HPD, Honda’s wholly-owned racing subsidiary. It also marked thefirst time HPD had taken on concurrent motorsports programs in both the American Le MansSeries and the IndyCar Series.
“This is the logical next step in our business plan,” said Erik Berkman, HPD president.“The Acura sports-car program has energized HPD’s associates and met numerous objectivesduring its first two seasons of American Le Mans Series competition. We feel we are fully pre-pared to take on this new challenge.”
De Ferran returned to active competition this year by forming de Ferran Motorsports,with the former Indy 500 winner and multiple series champion serving as both driver and teamowner. The legendary Brazilian racing figure recently served as Sporting Director for theHonda Formula One racing team before establishing his new ALMS team. De Ferran andyoung star Simon Pagenaud have driven the No. 66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01bin five races this season.