David Brabham says he is confident that the new Acura LMP1 machine will prove to be a strong package in the 2009 American Le Mans Series season.

Brabham's Patron Highcroft Racing team and the de Ferran Motorsport outfit will both campaign the new ARX-02a during the season ahead as they step up from the LMP2 class, where Acura will still be represented by Fernandez Racing.

The new car has already taken part in testing prior to Christmas and Brabham - currently back in the United States for his latest run in the car - said his initial impressions of the car were enough to believe it will be a strong contender for honours in 2009.

"The car, straight from the box, showed it has a lot of pace," he said. "When you drive it, it gives you a smile on your face as the thing is really good. There are still areas we need to improve on and reliability is one area we have needed to work on as it's a brand new car and a new concept compared to the P2 car.

"There is a lot for us to learn but we have a fantastically talented group of people with Wirth Research involved and HPD, so by the time we get to Sebring, we should be strong."

Brabham added that he was excited at the prospect of returning to the premier LMP1 class during the season ahead and said he was hopeful of a winning start to the campaign at Sebring, where the Acura will go up against Audi's latest challenger, the R15.

"How excited am I? Well it's been a while since I've been in a P1 car so I am really looking forward to it and being further involved in the Acura programme," he said. "It's the right time for our team to move up to LMP1. We tested the car before Christmas and I go out on Sunday [11 Jan] for more testing and we are really geared up for it.

"We are looking forward to the first challenge at Sebring, which is a race we are going there to win. We aren't just looking to finish, we have high expectations and have set our goals. Winning Sebring is one of them."

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