ACURA DRIVERS SEEK VICTORY RUN AT MOSPORT SUNDAY; NEW ACURA PROTOTYPES HAVE BROUGHT EXCITEMENT TO ALMS Strong Acura Driver Lineup Includes Fernandez, Brabham, Johansson and Herta Bowmanville, Ont. -- The new Acura prototype sports car program...
ACURA DRIVERS SEEK VICTORY RUN AT MOSPORT SUNDAY; NEW ACURA PROTOTYPES HAVE BROUGHT EXCITEMENT TO ALMS
Strong Acura Driver Lineup Includes Fernandez, Brabham, Johansson and Herta
Bowmanville, Ont. -- The new Acura prototype sports car program brings a solid driver lineup to Mosport International Raceway this weekend (Aug.24-26), the ninth stop on the 12-race American Le Mans Series.
The three Acura teams, Andretti Green Racing, Highcroft Racing and Lowe's Fernandez Racing, have shown tremendous speed in the automaker's debut season in the very competitive ALMS road racing campaign.
The 2007 campaign started out in spectacular fashion for Acura by winning the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring with Bryan Herta. Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan taking the No.26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a to victory lane.
Now, the Acura contingent is ready for another winner's circle celebration at Mosport.
But the Acura squads have been chasing the Penske Porsche domination in this year's ALMS tour.
Despite the Penske victory train, Acura prototypes have one win, two seconds, four thirds in eight races this year. With recent testing, the Acura teams hope to stop the Penske winning streak this Sunday.
"We believe our Acura engine is right with Porsche's engine for power but the chassis has been the difference for them," said Robert Clarke, president, Honda Performance Development. "Handling is critical on the street and tight road circuits. I think we are getting better on those types of circuits but Porsche has an advantage. We are not really in the championship battle this year and we knew this year is a learning process of the Acura program. So racing for a championship was not in our plan. Learning the series and sports car racing in general was the goal in 2007 for Acura."
Few teams competing in Sunday's ALMS contest have the background as the Acura drivers.
Adrian Fernandez, co-owner and driver of the No.15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola, is one of North America's most renowned driver after eleven years in Champ Cars including winning the 1996 Molson Indy through the streets of Toronto. Fernandez and his teammate, fellow Mexican Luis Diaz, placed third in the LMP2 class in the recent Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio. It marked the team's second podium in 2007.
Meanwhile, Herta, winner of this year's 12 Hours of Sebring in the No.26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a for Andretti Green Racing, comes to Mosport after a stellar open-wheel career including two wins in Champ Car. Herta had eight starts in the streets of Toronto.
Highcroft Racing drivers David Brabham and Stefan Johansson, former Formula One standouts, have logged numerous laps at Mosport and their new mount, the No.9 Highcroft Acura ARX-01a has posted three podium finishes already in 2007. Brabham has three podium finishes at Mosport and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. Johansson, the 1997 Le Mans champion, is a two-time Sebring winner.
Joining Herta in the No.26 XM Satellite Radio Acura at Road America will be Marino Franchitti, Dario's younger brother. Franchitti finished second overall with Herta at Houston. Dario Franchitti won the overall pole this year at Long Beach in the Andretti Green Acura ARX-01a. Marino has had several starts at Mosport during his career.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola): ""Lowe's is planning to open six to 10 stores around Toronto this year and eventually expand to as many as 100 stores across Canada so this is an important market for us. I have never been to Mosport but have heard a lot about the track and it sounds very challenging. My first major win in racing was in Toronto back in 1996, and I have thoroughly enjoyed racing in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal over the years. The Canadian fans are very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about their racing."
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola): "I love Canada and am really looking forward to this one. This is another track with a lot of history. The Lowe's Acura was very good at Mid-Ohio. We raced with the Porsches and the Audi for a long time at Mid-Ohio. I'd like to win one with the XM Acura."
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): "I have been pleased with the performance of our Acura car. Winning the overall pole on the last lap of qualifying at Houston was exciting and gratifying. This Highcroft team is young as is the Acura sports car program. I have had some good runs at Mosport in the past. Mosport is a classic road circuit. I can't wait to take the Acura ARX-01a through those fast sweeping corners. I have driven many different cars at Mosport. And the Acura will be another machine that brings a big challenge. The car has tremendous downforce and the Acura engine has been strong all year. But I believe the Highcroft team is ready."
STEFAN JOHANSSON (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): "The new Acura chassis has improved with each race. We had a car to compete well at Lime Rock and Road America. Winning the pole overall at Houston was a great boost for our young team. We had a tough break during a pit stop at Houston and that cost us some spots. I see the Acura program continuing to improve and develop, just like the Highcroft team. I believe we'll be more competitive in the next few races. We got third at Lime Rock and Road America."
BRYAN HERTA (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): "We had a great start to the season with the Sebring win. We've had a couple of tough races recently and I'm just really glad that we have another race to get back out there and put the last few behind us. We have a couple of test days this time so I feel like we've got some time to work on the setup and the XM Satellite Radio Acura a little more. Hopefully we'll have a much better result and finish the last several races of the season on a strong note."
MARIO FRANCHITTI (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): "Msoport is such a great track, right up Upcoming: Grand Prix of Mosport there with Spa, the Old Nurburgring and Road Americas as one of my favorites. I always look forward to going back to Canada as we get such a great reception from the fans. Mosport is such a challenging track which is a blast to drive and I love the great sports car history it has. It's AGR's first visit to this track so the testing we had on Distance: Monday was really important and hopefully Bryan and I can get a setup that will allow us to get the XM Acura back up front where it belongs."
-credit: acura motorsports