Sebring: Highcroft Racing preview

ALMS' 'Newest' Team, Highcroft Racing, Brings Podium-Winning Clout To Its Assault on Saturday's Twelve Hours of Sebring DANBURY, Conn., March 13 - It's rare when a new team has the kind of credentials that Highcroft Racing brings to its first ...

ALMS' 'Newest' Team, Highcroft Racing, Brings Podium-Winning Clout To Its Assault on Saturday's Twelve Hours of Sebring

DANBURY, Conn., March 13 - It's rare when a new team has the kind of credentials that Highcroft Racing brings to its first "official" American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race, Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.

All three of the team's drivers have been on the podium at this prestigious event in the past.

Even the car they'll drive finished third in last year's race, the "Super Bowl" of the American Le Mans Series.

Highcroft Racing's owner/driver, Duncan Dayton of Danbury, Conn., has activated an extremely experienced and talented group of people for Highcroft Racing's assault on the 10-race American Le Mans Series since he purchased one of Dyson Racing's Lolas in December. Although this is Highcroft Racing's first official entry in the ALMS, the team has been participating in formula car and vintage events since the early nineties, and Dayton himself has been driving in endurance sports car events around the world since 1998. Highcroft Racing has also been seen as a sponsor on cars fielded by other teams that Dayton has driven in the past.

Dayton's record at Sebring as a driver is extremely impressive. In his six previous runs in the once-around-the-clock enduro he has one class victory (2002), one second (2003), one third (2005), one fifth (2001), one eighth (2004) and one tenth (1999).

Sebring is the longest event on the series' schedule and most teams use three drivers for this race. Dayton is very pleased that he'll have Rick Knoop of Laguna Beach, Calif. and Gregor Fisken of London, England sharing the driving duties with him at Sebring this year for the 54th annual event. Knoop was third overall at Sebring in 1985 teamed with Pete Halsmer and Dieter Quester. Fisken's Sebring podium came just last year when he finished third in the P2 class with Dayton and Jon Field in the Telesis Lola AER.

This year Highcroft Racing's entry is also a Lola AER which will compete in the top class, LMP1, which has seven entries. Andy Wallace, who drives for the team that campaigned the car last year, helped set it up at a recent test at Sebring. After driving it, all three of Highcroft Racing's drivers came back from the test excited about their chances in the big race.

Their primary goal will be to finish. Last year's winning car turned the bumpy 3.7-mile road course 361 times in the 12-hour period, covering 1,335.70 miles.

Highcroft Racing's striking yellow and blue car is number 9. It will carry the colors of Gregor Fisken Fine Historic Automobiles, Stand 21 Racewear, Dunlop Tires, Koni Shocks, Hella Lights, KEEN Shoes and Resole.com for this event, which will be televised live on SPEED from 10:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. It will also be carried by MotorsTV in Europe and it will be distributed to 510 million more households worldwide by Greenlight Television.

Besides the drivers, there is a lot of talent in the Highcroft camp on the other side of the pit wall too. Veteran Dave Luckett is the team's crew chief, and Thomas Knapp, a top Indy Car engineer, is the team's chief engineer.

Dayton competed in the LMP2 class, which is one step down from LMP1, in this event last year. In addition to getting on the podium he set the fastest lap for that class during last year's race and a new track record with a lap in 1:52.611 for an average speed of 118.283 mph. The fastest lap run in the top class last year was a 1:48.580 (122.580 mph). Qualifying was rained out last year, and the starting lineup was determined by times set during practice.

Rinaldo Capello posted the fastest time at the recent test in the No. 2 Audi R10 with a 1:47.308 (124.129 mph), which is faster than the four-year-old track qualifying record of 1:48.029. Highcroft Racing topped the sixth session at the test with 1:49.547 (121.592 mph).

"We realize that we're probably not going to be the fastest [at Sebring], but hopefully from our standpoint we'll be the most reliable," Dayton said. "Given the level of competition in P1 it's unlikely to expect us to win this season, but I do think we can get on the podium. It's our first time competing in a prototype at this level, so we want to sort out the team first and foremost. This is very much a learning year for us, even though I've been around the sport for a long time."

This year the Highcroft entry will definitely be one of the favorites of the vintage racing crowd. All three of the Highcroft drivers are very active in vintage racing, as is the Highcroft Racing team as a whole. An important part of Highcroft Racing's business is the restoration and preparation of classic cars and vintage race cars. In addition, Fisken is widely regarded as one of the leading dealers of classic cars and historic race cars through his business, Gregor Fisken Fine Historic Automobiles (see gregorfisken.com).

For anyone who doesn't have access to the live TV coverage on Saturday, live timing and scoring and the ALMS radio broadcast is planned for the series' Web site at americanlemans.com.

The track's Web site is at sebringraceway.com. Construction is still on-going on Highcroft Racing's new Web site at highcroftracing.com, but it went live just last week.

-hr-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Duncan Dayton , Rinaldo Capello , Pete Halsmer , Jon Field , Dieter Quester , Gregor Fisken , Rick Knoop
Teams Dyson Racing