Patrón Highcroft Racing is set to unveil its new LMP1 class Acura ARX-02a entry at next week's American Le Mans Series 'Wheels Down' winter test at Sebring International Raceway.
The three-day test will be the first time that the new Acura entry has run in public, and will be a crucial stepping-stone in preparation for the car's debut at this year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours at the same Sebring circuit on 21 March.
After a highly successful 2008 season with the LMP2 class Acura ARX-01b, Highcroft was selected - along with de Ferran Motorsports - by Acura and Honda Performance Development to represent the brand in its graduation to the premier American Le Mans Series class.
The pairing of American Scott Sharp and Australian David Brabham scored four LMP2 victories last year, as well as an overall win - Acura's first - at Lime Rock Park. The duo also finished first or second in seven of the eleven LMP2 races staged in 2008.
The Sebring test will be the first time that the new LMP1 car has run in its 2009 Patrón Tequila livery, and Sharp, for one, cannot wait.
''The car looks fantastic,” he claimed, “It is such an innovative design and looks menacing in plain carbon but, once it is in the Patrón colours, I think it is going to look like Darth Vader on wheels.
''The car has been going really well in early testing and next week will be a great opportunity for the whole Patrón Highcroft Racing team. There will be a lot more cars out there at the 'Wheels Down' test laying down a lot of rubber, and that will simulate what conditions are like during a race weekend, which will be great.''
Both Sharp and Brabham have relished the opportunity to team with the Patrón Highcroft Racing and HPD engineers to develop the new car which will debut against both Audi and Peugeot at the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
''The tests so far have shown that the car has a lot of potential, but we still have a lot of work to do prior to the first race,'' Brabham admitted.