HIghcroft Racing Thursday report

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Sebring 12 Hours

HIGHCROFT TRIO THRILLED WITH LATEST FORM OF ARX-01e

#01 Highcroft Racing Honda Performance Development ARX-01e: David Brabham, Marino Franchitti, Simon Pagenaud
#01 Highcroft Racing Honda Performance Development ARX-01e: David Brabham, Marino Franchitti, Simon Pagenaud

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

SEBRING, FL, Thursday, March 17, 2011: With a development process progressing as quickly as the straight line speed of the HPD ARX-01e, Highcroft Racing continued to make great performance strides today as official practice kicked off for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The latest LMP1 design from Honda Performance Development completed only its fourth day of running today and the Highcroft team, in conjunction with the engineering talent from HPD and Wirth Research, believe they may have unlocked significant speed secrets today.

The team was only eighth and seventh fastest in the two day-time practice sessions, but updates to the car prior to the night session began to unlock its potential.

All three drivers were significantly pleased with the improvements which pushed the Highcroft machine to a fastest time of 1 minute, 51.818 seconds.

This was despite losing part of the rear bodywork in a pit lane traffic jam when our nearest pit neighbor - the Risi Ferrari of Mika Salo - was a little to eager to return to the track after a red flag period. Salo's GT machine made slight contact with the HPD entry - forcing the Highcroft crew to remove the loose piece of bodywork.

With all three drivers completing their mandatory three night time laps, and the team validating the success of the pre-session adjustments, the Highcroft #01 machine returned to the paddock 35 minutes prior to the end of the 105 minute session - saving firepower for tomorrow's final day of practice and qualifying.

While some late fast times pushed Pagenaud's result back to seventh on the timesheet, all three drivers completed the day knowing they have a car at their disposal which will be very strong.

The Highcroft machine also unveiled decals on the HPD ARX-01e today promoting the team's Japanese earthquake appeal.

Race fans can contribute to the cause though Network for Good via www.highcroftracing.com/help-japan. Along with the signage on the car, all three Highcroft drivers used helmet visor strips featuring the Japanese flag and the message "help Japan".

MARINO FRANCHITTI

“The Highcroft guys with HPD and Wirth Research have been working really hard this week to take a brand new car and turn it into a comfortable racecar.

"This has taken place in a very short space of time and we are well on the way to making it happen.

"We made a lot of changes during the week and we have been testing the limits of the car, trying different set-up changes. Now we have put all those together, David, Simon and myself are all much happier with the car.

"It is a a great step forward and we are all very excited about the race.

"We feel now if we had to go race tomorrow, we'd be in good shape .”

SIMON PAGENAUD

“It is nice to get my car back again. The guys at Highcroft, HPD and Wirth Research did a great job today and the car is now handling a lot better than earlier in the week - it feels like home.

"The handling of the car feels much more comfortable and that is a great note about tonight.

"I had a good time out there in night practice.

"Track conditions were quicker than this afternoon, but it should also be like this towards the end of the race.

"It is very important to have a quick car towards the end of the 12 hour.

"We still have some tuning to do but I am very happy leading into tomorrow.

"I just want to thank everyone at Highcroft because I think we have a very raceable car now - I'm very happy about it.”

DAVID BRABHAM

“Today was another very strong day for us.

"We tried a lot of things because we are trying to gain a lot of knowledge in a very short space of time so we have been throwing a lot of ideas at the car - some which worked, some which didn't.

"We came up with a package tonight which I think all the guys are very happy with.

"The car is a lot nicer to drive and all three of us are a lot happier behind the wheel.

"We're now looking forward to improving this a little more before we get to the race.

"I feel we can now start to fine tune the car rather than just throwing big things at it.

"The guys have done a great job and worked tirelessly. They had a very late night last night and it was good to finish a bit earlier than planned today. The boys can get some rest and get ready for tomorrow.”

-source: highcroft racing

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