Detroit: Highcroft Racing to enter LMP1 in 2009

PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING TO ENTER LMP1 CLASS FOR 2009 ALMS SEASON Patron Highcroft Racing To Field ARX-02a Car In Premier Series Class In 2009 DETROIT (Aug. 29, 2008) - Acura Motorsports will enter the LMP1 class in the 2009 American Le Mans...

PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING TO ENTER LMP1 CLASS FOR 2009 ALMS SEASON

Patron Highcroft Racing To Field ARX-02a Car In Premier Series Class In 2009

DETROIT (Aug. 29, 2008) - Acura 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 will feature two Acura ARX-02a prototype sports cars developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD).

Patron Highcroft Racing and De Ferran Motorsports will campaign the new Acura LMP1 cars, which are being designed in concert with Wirth Research in England. Testing of the new Acura LMP1 cars is scheduled for November.

Acura will also continue in the LMP2 category with the Lowe's Fernandez team competing on the 2009 ALMS tour.

Acura entered sports-car racing in 2007 by fielding Acura-powered LMP2 prototype cars on Michelin tires for Highcroft Racing, Andretti Green Racing and Lowe's Fernandez Racing in the 12-race ALMS series. The three-car contingent marked the first factory motorsports program in Acura's 20-year history. De Ferran Motorsports was added to the Acura lineup in 2008.

In the past year and a half, the Acura machines, with 3.4-liter, V-8 powerplants, have scored five LMP2 class victories, as well as an overall win by Patron Highcroft Racing and drivers David Brabham and Scott Sharp earlier this year at Lime Rock Park. Acura cars also have recorded five overall pole positions.

"Since launching the Acura American Le Mans Series program in 2007, our goal has always been to compete at the highest level of sports-car racing," said John Mendel, Executive Vice President of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Company, Inc. "The LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series represents the pinnacle of sports-car racing in this country, from both a competitive and technological standpoint. As we prepare to elevate Acura to Tier One status among luxury road cars, we feel it only appropriate to make this move to the uppermost level of American Le Mans Series competition, as well."

The Acura Motorsports program featured the first racing engine and chassis primarily designed and developed by HPD, Honda's wholly-owned racing subsidiary. It also marked the first time HPD had taken on concurrent motorsports programs in both the American Le Mans Series 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 objectives during its first two seasons of American Le Mans Series competition. We feel we are fully prepared to take on this new challenge."

The Patron Highcroft Racing team, owned by team principal Duncan Dayton, has been the most successful of the Acura entries in 2007 & 2008, taking the overall and LMP2 win at Lime Rock in July and LMP2 class victories at Long Beach, Road America and Mosport, Ontario, Canada. Brabham and Sharp drove the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b to all four victories. Brabham, the only ALMS driver ever to win in all four series classes, has won overall poles at Houston last year, Lime Rock and Detroit this season for the team.

"Our relationship with Acura and HPD has been extremely beneficial to Highcroft Racing and we are proud to have been chosen as a part of Acura's new LMP1 program in 2009," said Dayton. "We have had a very collaborative effort with Acura, HPD and Wirth Research over the past two seasons. We started with a good business plan and have been competitive throughout our ALMS program. Adding Patron as our major sponsor strengthened our Acura program, and we have had a very successful 2008 campaign. Now, moving to the LMP1 class, we expect to continue the progress that we began two years ago. The 2009 season will be exciting for Acura and the Patron Highcroft Racing team."

-credit: hr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , David Brabham , Scott Sharp