PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING READY FOR 'WHEELS DOWN' DEBUT OF NEW ACURA DANBURY, CT, Friday, Jan. 23, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing is set to unveil its new LMP1 Acura ARX-02a entry at next week's American Le Mans Series 'Wheels Down' winter...
PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING READY FOR 'WHEELS DOWN' DEBUT OF NEW ACURA
DANBURY, CT, Friday, Jan. 23, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing is set to unveil its new LMP1 Acura ARX-02a entry at next week's American Le Mans Series 'Wheels Down' winter test at Sebring International Raceway.
The three-day test will be the first time that the new Acura entry has run in public. The test is a crucial stepping-stone in preparation for the car's debut at this year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21.
After a highly successful 2008 season with the LMP2 Acura ARX-01b, Patron Highcroft Racing was selected along with de Ferran Motorsports by Acura and Honda Performance Development to represent the brand in its graduation to the premier American Le Mans Series class.
The Patron Highcroft Racing pairing of American Scott Sharp and Australian David Brabham scored four LMP2 victories last year including an overall win - Acura's first - at Lime Rock Park.
The duo also finished first or second in seven of the 11 races staged in 2008 in the LMP2 division.
The Sebring test will be the first time the new car has run in its 2009 Patron Tequila-sponsored livery.
"I can't wait for next week, the car looks fantastic. It is such an innovative design and looks menacing in plain carbon but once it is in the Patron colors I think it is going to look like Darth Vader on wheels," Sharp said.
"The car has been going really well in early testing and next week will be a great opportunity for the whole Patron Highcroft Racing team.
"There will be a lot more cars out there at the 'Wheels Down' test laying down a lot of rubber. That will simulate what conditions are like during a race weekend which will be great."
Both Sharp and Brabham have relished the opportunity to team with the Patron Highcroft Racing and HPD engineers to develop the new car which will debut against both Audi and Peugeot at the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"The tests so far have shown that the car has a lot of potential but we still have a lot of work to do prior to the first race," Brabham said.
"It is an outstanding program with Patron Highcroft Racing and Acura and it is a great one to be involved with. I am looking forward to getting to Sebring to race against Audi and Peugeot and the rest of the guys.
"There is a lot for us to learn leading up to the first race to get the maximum out of it. However, with the running that we have already done we have some strong direction.
"We have some more testing before the Twelve Hour and developing new cars has always been a challenge I have enjoyed. We are right in the thick of it now - I am having a great time."
In only its fourth season as an American Le Mans Series entrant and third as a factory-back Acura team, Patron Highcroft Racing owner Duncan Dayton is eagerly awaiting the chance to graduate to the LMP1 division for the first time.
"We are ecstatic to be able to not only show the world the exciting new livery on the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a chassis but to also reveal the technical details of the new car at the 'Wheels Down' test at Sebring," Team Owner, Duncan Dayton said.
"It is a very stunning looking car both from a livery and design standpoint and I think motorsports fans and journalists will be very interested to see the conceptual designs that were applied to this car by Honda Performance Development and Wirth Research.
"I am particularly honored and gratified that Patron Highcroft Racing has been chosen to represent Acura and HPD in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series.
"We are competing for one of the storied racing brands in the world and to be able to race at the highest level with the most technically sophisticated sports car series in the world is a real thrill for us.
"We are forever grateful that Honda and Acura have shown that faith in us and we work diligently every day to earn that respect and trust."
Fans can see the new Patron Highcroft Racing Acura LMP1 entry on each day of the Serbing test from January 26 to 28. Admission at the gate is only $10 per day.