HIGHCROFT ON THE PACE IN LE MANS 24 HOUR DEBUT Le Mans LE MANS, FRANCE, Wednesday, June 9, 2010: Highcroft Racing made a strong start to its debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by leading the opening practice session in the LMP2 class and posting...
HIGHCROFT ON THE PACE IN LE MANS 24 HOUR DEBUT
Le Mans LE MANS, FRANCE, Wednesday, June 9, 2010: Highcroft Racing made a strong start to its debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by leading the opening practice session in the LMP2 class and posting the second fastest class time in opening qualifying in the Malaria No More car.
David Brabham kicked off the team's assault in the opening four hour practice session, eventually setting a time of 3 minutes, 38.691 seconds for the 8.5 mile circuit.
Marino Franchitti took over, followed by three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner who is making his debut with the team this weekend.
The team's only problem was an initial oil leak which was quickly repaired by the team and HPD engineers.
Le Mans All three drivers drove the car during qualifying - Werner taking his first laps at night, followed by Brabham and Franchitti. The trio completed their mandatory three laps at night before the team turned its attention to further race preparation and development.
Concentrating on running on full tanks in race type conditions, Brabham eventually set a time of 3 minutes, 37.202 seconds - good enough to be second fastest behind our HPD stablemate, European team Strakka Racing.
Highcroft, the Honda Performance Development factory team ran the new Wirth Research developed aero kit for the first time tonight. The new bodywork features 133 new parts and was specially designed for Le Mans to decrease the amount of aerodynamic drag.
Two additional qualifying sessions are scheduled for tomorrow night from 7.00pm to 9.00pm and 10.00pm to 12.00 midnight. Damp weather is forecast for Thursday's activtities.
Le Mans The on-track debut of the Malaria No More Highcroft machine coincided with the launch of the special Ebay auction for the Miles to End Malaria campaign.
A highlight of the auction is a banner signed by the Highcroft drivers plus a host of others including multiple Le Mans winners Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello, Peugeot stars Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Nicolas Minassian and ex-Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell.
Fans can bid on this amazing souvenir and help raise funds to protect African families from malaria at www.milestoendmalaria.org/auction
"Today was to try and learn the new aero kit because it is very different than what we are used to. We were fairly quick straight away but we made some good progress throughout the night.
"We made some changes at the end which didn't work so well, but it has given us a bit of direction of where to go for tomorrow and the boys will be looking at the data overnight to find some more speed. "Compared to the Peugeot from last year the car is quite quick in the corners but we struggle a little bit on the straights. Overall, it is really fun to drive around here.
"We ran pretty heavy on fuel all night and never really went for a qualifying time. Considering that, we weren't that far away so I think that is a pretty good sign.
"The main focus was to get a race balance and understand this package that we have. It is obviously quick because both the HPD cars have quite a decent gap over the opposition. Strakka have run a couple of races with this package and know it a bit better than us so we are in catch-up mode. We got a lot of information today and I am confident we will have a reasonable set-up for the race."
"It was great to get out on track in the Highcroft car tonight. At Le Mans there is a lot of waiting around early in the week so I really enjoyed getting some miles and I am really happy with the way the car is progressing.
"We have been working very hard on the race set up and didn't event take a shot at a qualifying attempt. We are making a lot of progress and learning every single lap about the new low drag configuration on the car.
"We'll do some more homework overnight and hope we get some more dry running. But even if we don't, I think we have a pretty good handle on where we want to go.
"I've really enjoyed my time in the car tonight. The Porsche Curves are everything I've ever dreamed about in a prototype.
"I was improving with everylap and leaning on my two experienced teammates which is the way it should be when you are the rookie on the team."
"I'm still learning out there but I am really happy to be on the team. Everything was good and after the oil issue, the car ran faultlessly.
"We're still collecting lots and data and working hard on getting a good race set-up on the car.
"We didn't take a shot at a qualifying run, and considering that, our times are very good.
"Position 2 is very good tonight and I think we can be very happy. I'm pleased with how the car felt, especially later in the night in the dark.
"The atmosphere here with the team at Highcroft is very nice so I am proud to be here."
"We've had a lot of help from Honda, HPD and Wirth Research to get us here and the low downforce/low drag kit is really showing on the timesheet.
"We are getting used to the car tonight and learning how to race it.
"We didn't take a qualifying run tonight. The team doesn't have a lot of experience with this aero package so we are trying to work on the racecar for Sunday afternoon.
"If we get some dry weather tomorrow night we might take a shot at it, but we are not too worried where we start.
"It was supposed to rain all day today and it didn't and the forecast for tomorrow is rain as well so maybe that will be wrong too. It wouldn't hurt to get a little bit of wet and dry running tomorrow but this car is very good in the wet so we are not too worried about that."
FAST FACTS: 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
* The ARX-01c flew on Saturday, May 29 from JFK to Heathrow. It was then loaded into a race transporter and driven to Le Mans.
* Highcroft will have a team of 32 people at the race including drivers
* The team shipped 4 tons of freight in total
* 10 sets of wheels were sent
* 2.5 sets of new Le Mans bodywork
* The new Le Mans aero kit has 133 specific pieces which are different from the standard ALMS kit
* We plan to use 44 tires during the race
* We'll consume 574 gallons of fuel during the race
* Rules only permit us to use two engines, one for practice and qualifying and one for the race.
* During the 12 days the team will cater more than 1,000 meals for the crew.
* Not much sleep during the race, but we've booked 319 bed nights in Le Mans for the duration of the event.
* Most of the team are away for 12 days
-source: highcroft racing