Acura has confirmed that it will enter the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series for the 2009 season.

Two Acura ARX-02a cars will be campaigned during the season by de Ferran Motorsports and Patron Highcroft Racing, with testing of the new car due to start in November, while Lowe's Fernandez Racing will continue to run in the LMP2 class.

Since joining the series at the start of last year with a three-team LMP2 entry - expanded to four this year with the addition of de Ferran Motorsport to the grid - Acura has taken five class victories as well as an overall win for Highcroft pairing David Brabham and Scott Sharp at Lime Rock earlier this year. Acura teams have also taken four overall pole positions in that same period.

"Since launching the Acura American Le Mans Series programme in 2007, our goal has always been to compete at the highest level of sports-car racing," John Mendel, executive vice president of auto operations for American Honda Motor Company, said. "The LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series represents the pinnacle of sports-car racing in this country, from both a competitive and technological standpoint.

"As we prepare to elevate Acura to tier one status among luxury road cars, we feel it only appropriate to make this move to the uppermost level of American Le Mans Series competition, as well."

"This is the logical next step in our business plan," Erik Berkman, HPD president, added. "The Acura sports-car programme has energised HPD's associates and met numerous objectives during its first two seasons of American Le Mans Series competition.

"We feel we are fully prepared to take on this new challenge."