ACURA PROTOTYPE SPORTS CARS COMPLETE THREE DAYS AT SEBRING; ALMS TEAMS MAKE PROGRESS PREPARING FOR 12-HOUR CLASSIC Andretti Green, Lowe's Fernandez, Highcroft Teams Log Long Hours With New Cars SEBRING, Fla. -- Preparing for one of motorsports'...
ACURA PROTOTYPE SPORTS CARS COMPLETE THREE DAYS AT SEBRING; ALMS TEAMS MAKE PROGRESS
PREPARING FOR 12-HOUR CLASSIC
Andretti Green, Lowe's Fernandez, Highcroft Teams Log Long Hours With New Cars
SEBRING, Fla. -- Preparing for one of motorsports' most demanding events, the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring, can be a difficult task for racing teams. Long hours must be logged on and off the track by drivers, engineers and mechanics to take their machines to the limit in preparing for the contest.
For three days this week, the three new Acura American Le Mans Series LMP2 sports car teams Andretti Green Racing, Lowe's Fernandez Racing and Highcroft Racing worked through a variety of race-type scenarios on the rough surface of the 3.7-mile, 17-turn former airport road circuit known as Sebring International Raceway.
All Acura American Le Mans Series operations are utilizing the new 3.4-liter V-8 Acura ALMS engine, the first racing power plant completely designed and developed by Honda Performance Devel- opment (HPD) of Santa Clarita, Calif.
The 55th running of the Mobil 112 Hours of Sebring sports car classic is set to take place on March 17 when the Acura factory prototype machines make their American Le Mans Series debut on the legendary course in south Florida.
The annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test at Sebring saw cars from four separate classes run in in seven practice sessions and the new Acura mounts performed well against a variety of makes and models. Despite the Acura cars' infancy in the LMP2 division, all three Acura teams showed outstanding potential throughout the three days of testing.
On the first day, Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz paced the Acura assault with a best time of 1 minute, 50.156 seconds for an average speed of 120.919 miles per hour in their Lola. Andretti Green's Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti clocked in at 1:50.747 (120.274 m.p.h.) in the XM Satellite Courage, followed by the trio of Duncan Dayton, David Brabham and Stefan Johansson in the Highcroft Courage at 1:52.472 (118.429 m.p.h.).
Day Two showed improvement by all three Acura squads with the Lowe's Fernandez unit again the quickest at 1:48.207 (123.097 m.p.h.) followed by Highcroft at 1:49.391 (121.765 m.p.h.) and An- dretti Green at 1:49.493 (121.652 m.p.h.). IndyCar Series regular Danica Patrick drove the XM Satellite Acura in the afternoon for her first official test in a prototype sports car.
On the final testing day, Luiz Diaz posted the quickest Acura time of the three-day session with a lap of 1.47.006 (124.479 m.p.h.) in the Lowe's Acura, with Franchitti taking the XM Acura to a best of 1:47.386 (124.039 m.p.h.). Johansson clocked in for Highcroft with a 1:48.388 (122.892 m.p.h.).
The three Acura teams are set for another testing session prior to 12 hours of Sebring, on Feb 19-20.
Acura Quotes: ROBERT CLARKE (HPD President) : "We are mov- ing along with our development of the new Acura ALMS program here at Sebring. Reliability is our goal at this time. We have been working very hard with all three of our Acura teams to stress the reliability factor, especially here at Sebring. The 12 Hours of Sebring is an extremely tough race on cars and engines. So our main goal right now is to finish the race."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Co-driver and co-owner of the No.15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura Lola): "We were going through a lot of things with the chassis and engine this week. We have started focusing on the race now. We have been able to improve the car every time out this week. We are getting quicker with the car but our objective to finish the 12 Hours of Sebring."
LUIS DIAZ (Co-driver of the No.15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura Lola): "We are on a learning curve right now with the Acura program. This is the best race car I have ever driven and the Acura program is exciting for me. The team just keeps mak- ing the car better and better. It is a professional process that the Acura people have put together. I know we will be successful."
BRYAN HERTA (Co-driver of the No.26 XM Satellite Radio Acura Courage): "We are very excited to be involved with Acura and racing in the ALMS series. This is a natural extension for me with the Andretti Green team and XM Satellite Radio as I have raced with both of them in the IndyCar Series. I see a lot of potential with this Acura program and the ALMS series. Plus, getting to race with my friend, Dario [Franchitti], is a great experience. These cars are fun to drive and I see a great future with Acura."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (Co-driver of the No.26 AM Satellite Radio Acura Courage): "I am delighted with be racing with Acura in the ALMS sports car series. It will be a busy season for me in both the ALMS and the IndyCar Series. But I have wantedi to race in a sports car and Acura has put together a tremendous program for us. These cars are a blast to drive."
DAVID BRABHAM (Co-driver of the No.9 Highcroft Racing Acura Courage): "We know that the 12-hour race here at Sebring is tough. But we have a lot of experience on the Highcroft team. We have to remember that this is a test and we have had some problems to be fixed. But we have been making improvements throughout the three days. The Acura engineers have been great to work with throughout the testing and I can see plenty of po- tential with this ALMS program. I'm very excited for 2007."
STEFAN JOHANSSON (Co-driver of the No.9 Highcroft Racing Acura Courage): "The Acura program was very en- couraging this week at Sebring. We know we need to run the cars as much as possible to get prepared for the 12 Hours of Sebring and the rest of the ALMS series. We are not worried about speed right now. We want reliability first and then we'll get to the speed."
-credit: acura motorsports