de Ferran Motorsport and Patron Highcroft Racing have both reacted positively to the news that they will fly the flag for Acura in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series in 2009.
Having entered the series with its LMP2 programme at the start of last year, Acura will now move into LMP1 for the first time next year with two ARX-02a cars running in the premier class.
de Ferran, led by former Indy 500 winner and former Honda F1 team boss Gil de Ferran, will make the move having only become part of the Acura stable mid-way through the current campaign, with the Brazilian having been joined by Simon Pagenaud for five races to date in the #66 Panasonic ELS Surround ARX-01b.
“I am delighted with our team's relationship with Acura and my longstanding involvement with Honda,” de Ferran said, “and we have taken another important step with this new announcement. We are a young team, but de Ferran Motorsports has a great depth of experience and talent within its ranks.
“We are driven to produce a contending Acura Motorsports sports-car program. We look forward to the challenge competing in the LMP1 class and putting Acura at the forefront of American Le Mans Series racing.”
Patron Highcroft Racing, owned by team principal Duncan Dayton, has been the most successful of the Acura entries in 2008, taking the overall and LMP2 win at Lime Rock in July and LMP2 class victories at Long Beach, Road America and Mosport.
David Brabham, the only ALMS driver ever to win in all four series classes, has won overall poles at Houston last year and Lime Rock this season for the team. Brabham also took pole for this weekend's event in Detroit.
“Our relationship with Acura and HPD has been extremely beneficial to Highcroft Racing and we are proud to have been chosen as a part of Acura's new LMP1 program in 2009,” Dayton enthused. “We have had a very collaborative effort with Acura, HPD and Wirth Research over the past two seasons.
“We started with a good business plan and have been competitive throughout our ALMS programme. Adding Patron as our major sponsor strengthened our Acura program, and we have had a very successful 2008 campaign. Now, moving to the LMP1 class, we expect to continue the progress that we began two years ago. The 2009 season will be exciting for Acura and the Patrón Highcroft Racing team.”
Lowe's Fernandez Racing will continue to run in the LMP2 class in 2009.