US CHAMPIONS HIGHCROFT READY FOR LE MANS 24 HOUR DEBUT David Brabham DANBURY, CT, Friday, 4 June, 2010: After several seasons as a dominant force in prototype competition in the American Le Mans Series, Highcroft Racing is set to make its ...
US CHAMPIONS HIGHCROFT READY FOR LE MANS 24 HOUR DEBUT
David Brabham DANBURY, CT, Friday, 4 June, 2010: After several seasons as a dominant force in prototype competition in the American Le Mans Series, Highcroft Racing is set to make its overseas debut at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Originally a surprise selection as one of the original factory teams for Acura in LMP2 competition, Highcroft Racing went on to score the most points of any Acura squad in three consecutive seasons.
The team also scored the brand its first overall victory and first LMP1 championship in 2009 after a great season-long battle with rivals de Ferran Motorsport.
For 2010, those performances have continued under the Honda Performance Development banner with Highcroft leading the newly combined LMP1/LMP2 points championship in the ALMS after three rounds and scoring consecutive victories at Long Beach and Laguna Seca.
2009 Le Mans winner David Brabham heads a stunning driver line-up which also includes team regular Marino Franchitti and Le Mans specialist, Marco Werner.
Brabham, the popular British-based Australian has his sights set on a fourth consecutive victory at Le Mans. He triumphed in GT1 competition for Aston Martin in 2007 and 2008 and last year earned his first overall victory driving for Peugeot.
Malaria No More His remarkable speed and consistency has continued since last year, the Highcroft star clinching his first American Le Mans Series championship last October and charging into the 2010 championship lead this season after wins at Long Beach and Laguna Seca.
New Highcroft signing Marino Franchitti will contest Le Mans in prototype machinery for the first time. The talented Scot has already proven to be extremely fast in 2010 - taking the LMP2 class pole at Sebring and anchoring the team's Laguna Seca victory. He has two previous starts at La Sarthe in GT machinery but is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to drive the official factory-backed HPD ARX-01c at Le Mans.
Marco Werner will make his debut for the team after a stellar career at Audi which netted him three overall Le Mans victories. The German drove the HPD for the first time in testing after the ALMS season-opener at Sebring and last week joined Brabham and Franchitti on board the Wirth Research simulator in the UK.
ALMS team regular Simon Pagenaud will suit up for Peugeot in the LMP1 class at Le Mans this year - hoping to emulate his Highcroft teammate Brabham's overall victory from 2009.
While team owner Duncan Dayton has previously contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans on four occasions, this year's Le Mans assault is the first overseas race for the Highcroft team which originally entered ALMS competition in 2006.
The team has established its championship-winning caliber in the US, but now the Danbury, Connecticut-based squad is eagerly awaiting its first opportunity to take on the biggest and most famous endurance race in the world.
Malaria No More FIGHTING MALARIA AT LE MANS
Highcroft Racing will use one of the biggest stages in international motorsport at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans to continue its battle against malaria.
In 2009, the team launched a partnership with Malaria No More to raise funds to combat the disease which kills a child in Africa every 30 seconds.
The 2009 season proved highly successful for Highcroft and the Miles to End Malaria campaign. In addition to Highcroft's championship victory, the campaign raised more than $63,000 to provide bed nets for families in Africa.
For next week's event on June 12-13, the Highcroft car will proudly bearing the colors of Malaria No More as the primary signage on the side of the car.
"During the actual 24 hours of the race, nearly 3,000 children will die from malaria in Africa - that is really a frightening number especially considering a $10 bed net can protect an entire family," Highcroft Racing, President, Duncan Dayton said.
Malaria No More "The team and our partners believe our debut at Le Mans provides an outstanding opportunity to really take our Miles to End Malaria campaign to the next level.
"We have tremendous support from the fans across the globe and we hope they will join us in trying to make a difference to eradicate malaria.
"We're not talking about research to find a cure, this is not a maybe or a hope - for every $10 we raise, another family can be protected."
Malaria No More has also received additional support from the official English commentary service for the 24 Hours of Le Mans - Radio Le Mans. Racing fans throughout the world can join the Miles to End Malaria pledging pit crew online at www.milestoendmalaria.org.
"I'm not sure if I can pinpoint one particular reason why I love Le Mans but I always look forward to going there.
"The history, the atmosphere, the track itself, the competitors - everything is really special. It is a very difficult to describe - it is a race that you really have to experience it to understand what makes it so special.
"It is certainly a highlight of my year and I am really looking forward to going there with Highcroft Racing.
"It will be the first time for the team at Le Mans, but I told the guys at Laguna that we are now ready to go to this race. For several years we have been putting together such a great team and we have grown into a squad that is now ready to perform really well at Le Mans.
"A lot of people in Europe probably don't know that much about Highcroft and I'd like to think people will be pleasantly surprised by what they see.
"Duncan runs a very professional outfit - they look good, they act good and they perform exceptionally well.
"We have had to raise our game to do battle with Penske in recent years and last season's battle with de Ferran was just as intense.
"It has been a great journey for us as a team and now we're ready for Le Mans with a car we know very well.
"Myself and Marco have been here many times and won and know what it takes to do the job here and Marino has continued to impress every time he gets in the car. We need to do what we do at any other race track to concentrate on every single aspect of the preparation.
"The LMP2 class will be tough but the biggest challenge for us will actually be ourselves and the race overall. We have to dot the "I's" and cross the "T's" like we say before every race in the ALMS. If we can do that here we will be looking good. We don't know a lot about the European teams and they don't know a lot about us so there will be a lot to learn.
"We've headed to Europe with a perfect scenario after two wins and in the lead of the championship in the US. We're now going into new territory but we do so with a lot of confidence that we can do the job and that is important. I'm very proud of the team because they have done so well and now we have an even bigger challenge ahead but I am confident they can get the job done."
"I've been to Le Mans twice in a GT car but my dream has always been to be there in an open-topped prototype so I really couldn't be more excited about that.
"With respect to the cars that I have driven at Le Mans in the past, we probably weren't in a position to really challenge for the class win but I am now certainly in a car that is more than capable of getting the job done.
"It will be the first time at Le Mans for the team and our key goal is making sure we get to the finish and learn as much as possible - anything over and above that will be a bonus.
"My preparation for Le Mans has been really strong and it was great to get to drive the circuit aboard the Wirth Research simulator.
"It is a huge bonus and an amazing tool at our disposal. It was brilliant for all three of us to get some virtual miles under our belt before we arrive.
"I'm expecting the Porsche Curves to be a huge amount of fun. It was amazing on the simulator and I am really looking forward to doing that in reality in the ARX-01c.
"People tell you how fast you can get through there in a prototype but having tried it on the sim, I can't wait to do it for real. If the car feels half as good as what it did in the simulator we are going to be in very good shape.
"I really have an amazing opportunity to go to Le Mans with two amazing teammates. We're going to miss Simon who will be in the Peugeot but hopefully he can win overall and we can join him with the LMP2 class victory.
"To go there with a guy like Brabs who has won there the last three years - firstly in GT1, then overall - is a great opportunity for me.
"For us to be able to get a guy like Marco who won this race overall three years in a row is also incredible. For a Le Mans prototype rookie I really couldn't be in a better place.
"I shook down the car with the new aero kit before Laguna and I was hugely encouraged by the updates.
"Around Le Mans I think we are going to have a perfect balance between drag and downforce - the guys have really done their homework."
"Doing miles in the simulator was very beneficial. When you make a change on the car like a roll bar, aero or springs, you can really feel the difference.
"Our training session we did with Brabs' trainer was also very enjoyable. I arrived as a new teammate and went home as a new friend. We now have a great "closeness" between the three of us and really got to know each very well.
"This is hugely important for Le Mans for working together. The training was not just about the physical aspect, but team building and we now go to France really knowing how each other works - it was very hard, but very funny and beneficial.
"Our plan during race week will be to find a good set-up for the car. The team will be making their debut and the HPD ARX-01c will be racing there for the first time.
"Hopefully we will have good weather we will be able to collect a lot of data during practice. I think this will be extremely important.
"Highcroft certainly hae so much experience in the ALMS in the longer races. Le Mans is a bit of a different world but they know how to do well in these long events so I am confident we will be very well prepared.
"Once we have that data and have a good solid car for the race, we just need to concentrate on having a strong safe race.
"Staying out on the track and keeping out of trouble is really imperative for Le Mans. You never know what can happen with traffic and rain can be a very big challenge.
"This is not like a normal race track because most of the track is public road with trucks and cars rolling around. It is not in the best condition compared to a lot of the tracks we go to.
"Doing multiple stints on the tires is also very important. We have a very good partner in Michelin who know how to win here and they work very closely with the team on perfecting the set-up
"Doing well at Le Mans is a big dream of Duncan's and I believe we have a great team behind us with a lot of experience.
"Everyone is really looking forward to this race."
-source: highcroft racing