David Brabham says reliability will be the most important factor for Acura ahead of the manufacturers' American Le Mans Series LMP1 bow, as official testing for the season-opening 2009 Sebring 12 Hours got underway.
Acura join seasoned LMP1 contenders Peugeot and Audi in testing around the Florida circuit this week, but have so far been around 1.5secs off their pace, Brabham managing their best lap of 1min 46.219secs during first official practice for the endurance race.
Nonetheless, Brabham, who will drive Highcroft Patron machine alongside Scott Sharp and Dario Franchitti, has played down the gap between Acura and leaders Peugeot, claiming they have far more experience at this level and that one-lap pace isn't crucial in a race of this nature.
“The learning process continues with the new Acura. Peugeot and Audi are no strangers to LMP1 and they have great speed. We are getting better each day but our speed isn't there just yet. Remember, it is a 12-hour race and getting to the finish is the most important. That is our goal for Saturday right now. This Acura car has lots of potential, though.”
It is a sentiment shared by Scott Dixon, who will share the de Ferran car with Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud, the New Zealander claiming the ARX-02a merely lacks some straight-line speed.
“We just don't have the straightaway speed right now. The car is extremely fast in the corners. Faster than anything I have driven on a road circuit. The downforce is remarkable. But this is a new program and it takes time to get up to the speed of Peugeot and Audi. I think we are getting better every session here at Sebring. ”