- Sebring expectations
- Team level of preparation
DUNCAN DAYTON Q&A
DANBURY, CT, Friday, March 25, 2011: Less than a week ago, Highcroft Racing came within 31 seconds of pulling off an amazing victory at the Twelve Hours of Sebring with the debut of the Honda Performance Development ARX-01e.
Team boss Duncan Dayton looks back at the incredible performance of the new HPD machine which was driven by Simon Pagenaud, David Brabham and Marino Franchitti.
Q: What were your expectations going into the race week?
DD: “The program came together quite late for us, so the plan was really to use the Sebring race as a test session for the new HPD ARX-01e.
“The guys worked tirelessly to pull everything together. To end up with a performance like that in the race was truly amazing.
“David, Simon and Marino never put a mark on the car and everything ran perfectly – and continued to run perfectly for a two day test following the race as well.
“It is a real credit to our partners at HPD, Wirth Research and Michelin, as well as everyone at Highcroft that we were able to achieve such great success on our first outing with the new car.
“If somebody had said a week out we could have locked in second place, we would have grabbed it - but we’re all hard core racers and in the thick of the battle we really wanted to win.
“We worked out that we finished 2nd by .0007 of a percent (31/43,200 seconds) – squeezing out that much more performance over the course of the race would have put us in victory lane.
“But considering the time scale involved, to beat both factory cars from Audi and Peugeot with a five day old car and only be beaten by a proven Le Mans winner with five years of development under its belt is really incredible.”
Q: With a result like this, how proud are you of the guys in the Highcroft team?
DD: “When our guys are faced with tough situations, they always seem to raise the bar to another level.
“From getting the green light for Sebring, to race day, we only had about a month to prepare for the race and to see what we achieved, is just incredible.
“Everyone has worked tirelessly and I am just so proud, thankful and appreciative of everyone involved.
“We’ve shown in the past that our guys are prepared to do whatever it takes to get our car back on track, like Atlanta in 2008 and 2009.
“Even at Sebring some of the crew had to pull an all-nighter to isolate an electrical issue and then replace the main wiring loom in the car.
“That is something that would normally take 2-3 days in the shop – they had it done by 4:30am.
“The level of preparation is just outstanding and I have to thank everyone on the crew for their tireless efforts. I believe they are the best crew in the ALMS paddock.”
Q: How important was the close working relationship between Highcroft, HPD and Wirth Research in making this happen?
DD: “The best part of working with these guys is that we are like members of a well-oiled military unit.
When our guys are faced with tough situations, they always seem to raise the bar to another level.
“This result wouldn’t have happened without an enormous effort from all three parties and it isn’t just the guys who turned up the track – there are people back at HQ for all three organizations who were integral in bringing the ARX-01e to life and achieving this result.
“We’re extremely proud of the results we have achieved with HPD and Wirth since the birth of the partnership in 2007 and we’re confident there will be some more amazing performances to follow.
“The reliability we get from HPD is absolutely incredible – we couldn’t ask for more from an engine partner. The performance and reliability is just there day after day.
“To a team owner, that is like gold, or money in the bank – every time we fire a HPD motor up, it does what we think it is going to do.
“The same goes with the Wirth guys. To have that level of technical sophistication to put a car on the track, solely utilizing the digital domain, is nothing short of fantastic.
“Clearly the Peugeots and Audis have been in wind tunnels and this car had never seen the track and yet Wirth predicted what it was going to be able to do before it hit the road.
“The drivers had driven it in the simulator before it was even produced. It is such a great technological advantage that we have at our disposal.
“We really have to give thanks to the people at Michelin too. We know every time we hit the track, we have the most advanced tires on the planet helping us perform lap in and lap out.
“Being able to do multiple stints really saved us time in the pits and both Simon and Marino were able to pass the Peugeot for the lead with tires that were on their third stint.”
Q: How has the Sebring result helped move the program forward for 2011?
“The result in the 12 Hour has certainly not hurt that at all. The fantastic result reinforced the potential of the car and we look forward to showcasing its potential again soon.
“The car was fantastic at Sebring but we know we have to step up our game to an even higher level going forward.
“The Audi R18 was testing with us after the race and was turning laps in the 1 minute, 45 second bracket, so we know they are going to be significantly faster at Le Mans.
“The guys at Wirth are going to try to take even more drag out of the car for the 24 Hours in June. We need to continue to develop the HPD ARX-01e so that we gain a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, in order to make performance gains in the car.
“I know the fans are very keen to see a lot more of this car and we’re certainly working around the clock to make that happen.”
-source: highcroft racing