LOWE'S FERNANDEZ TEAM WINS SPECIAL 12-HOUR 'ONE-MAKE RACE' TUESDAY AT SEBRING INT'L RACEWAY IN PREP FOR 12 HOURS OF SEBRING Three Acura ALMS Squads Battle On The Tough, Legendary Sebring Surface SEBRING, Fla. -- The three new Acura American Le...
LOWE'S FERNANDEZ TEAM WINS SPECIAL 12-HOUR 'ONE-MAKE RACE' TUESDAY AT SEBRING INT'L RACEWAY IN PREP FOR 12 HOURS OF SEBRING
Three Acura ALMS Squads Battle On The Tough, Legendary Sebring Surface
SEBRING, Fla. -- The three new Acura American Le Mans Series teams took to battle Tuesday on the legendary Sebring International Raceway in a special 12-hour "One-Make Race" in preparation for Acura's factory LMP2 sports car racing debut, set for March 17 in the 55th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
Staged exactly as the famed 12 Hours of Sebring event, the "One-Make Race" pitted cars from Andretti Green Racing, Highcroft Racing and Lowe's Fernandez Racing powered by identical 3.4-liter, V-8 Acura engines on the tough 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit.
Honda Performance Development President Robert Clarke and his associates brought the Acura teams to Sebring to compete against each other and to gauge the engines and machines in race conditions.
After 12 hours of grueling action, the Lowe's Fernandez Racing team posted the victory in the 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. contest, with drivers Adrian Fernandez, Luis Diaz and David Martinez wheeling their Lola B04/05 car to an impressive win.
The Fernandez team, which had limited sports car racing experience entering 2007, put together a superb strategy and a solid pace to take the win over the Andretti Green and Highcroft efforts. Andretti Green's contingent of Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan proved to be blistering fast in the first five hours of the race and led often against the Fernandez team.
Highcroft's squad had suffered some mechanical woes in Monday's testing and had limited track time prior to the event. On Tuesday, the Connecticut-based team fought through a myriad of troubles to get to the finish.
Meanwhile, Fernandez and AGR battled furiously to Hour Six, when a starter motor let go with Herta at the wheel and forced the XM Satellite Radio Acura behind the wall for 33 minutes.
When the AGR machine returned to competition, the Fernandez effort had an 18-lap lead. Despite the malfunction, the AGR driving trio continued to click off solid laps before their mount was parked for good at the 9 hour, 25 minute mark due to an undisclosed problem.
The 12-hour exercise proved to be very useful for all three Acura teams, with each effort working on various portions of their racing organization, including on-track performance, pit stop reliability, fuel calculation and race strategy.
The Acura teams will now regroup for the 2007 American Le Mans Series season opener on March 17 at Sebring.
ROBERT CLARKE (HPD President): "This was a special day for Acura. This was the first Acura 12-hour race and there were no losers today. All three of our Acura sports car efforts learned a tremendous amount about endurance racing. The conditions here at Sebring were important to our Acura engineers as well as the teams. We are pleased with all of the aspects of today's event. We believe we gained needed experience for Acura's debut in the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Co-driver and coowner of the No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura): "We are very happy to win today's Acura race. Our goal was to run a good pace and get to the end of the 12 hours. I think we accomplished many of our objectives. In addition, we learned about the elements that could hurt us in the 12 Hours of Sebring. We will be much better prepared for the race next month. I am proud of how our Lowe's Fernandez team worked together today."
LUIS DIAZ (Co-driver of the No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura): "This was the best test I have ever participated in during my career. We ran a very strong pace today and the Lowe's Acura ran flawless. I have never driven in the 12 Hours of Sebring, but I know the race is hard on the drivers, teams, cars and the engines. So this race today was a great way to be prepared. I look forward to returning to Sebring next month after the performance we had today."
BRYAN HERTA (Co-driver of the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura): "I really want to thank the Acura folks for the opportunity to run this race. This was a great way to learn about our team, our car and our engine. We ran a very hard pace today. Maybe we ran a little too hard at times. But that is why we came here. We wanted to get as much information as we could going into the 12 Hours of Sebring. We didn't get to the end today but it was a great test for all of the Acura teams."
STEFAN JOHANSSON (Co-driver of the No. 9 Highcroft Racing Acura): "This event was very important for our team, and all of the Acura teams for that matter. We are so much more prepared coming back to Sebring for the 12 Hour race. We have a new team and we are working with a new manufacturer. Acura has already shown us how committed they are about the American Le Mans Series by holding a race like today's. Our team has a long list of items to work with as we prepare for next month's race. Acura does things properly."