The de Ferran Motorsports team showed its potential at Sebring but ultimately came away disappointed from the debut race for its new LMP1 Acura ARX-02a.
With Gil de Ferran, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon sharing driving duties in the #66 XM Radio backed car, the team caused a shock by securing pole position ahead of the diesel-powered entries from Peugeot and Audi, with de Ferran being given the job of taking the start.
Although unable to keep the diesel cars behind, the Brazilian was able to complete a solid opening stint before handing over to Frenchman Pagenaud, who managed to triple stint his tyres before Dixon took his turn at the wheel.
However, the first sign of a problem appeared at the halfway point when de Ferran was at the wheel of the car. The rear of the skid plate came loose and the officials called the car into the pits. The team lost two laps while they investigated the problem.
When de Ferran handed the car over to Pagenaud, he soon reported handling problems, which were later diagnosed as terminal suspension failure and a fuel leak. When the car headed off into the paddock on lap 251 it was running in a strong fourth place.
“We tried to fix the car in the paddock,” team boss de Ferran said, “but the damage was too pronounced for us to continue to race. It is with great reluctance that we have decided to retire the car. I want to pay tribute to my whole team and everyone involved in the Acura motorsports program for the extraordinary effort to get this car onto the grid here at Sebring, win that historic pole position and run so effectively for three quarters of the race. It has been a huge achievement from everyone and they must all be very proud of themselves. It has been a first for Acura, a first for de Ferran Motorsports and we will head off to the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St Petersburg in two weeks time with a really competitive package.
“Of course we are sorry to be leaving Sebring without a result, but we are taking a number of positives from this experience and for our car to be on pole position and having given the Audis and Peugeots such a run for their money this weekend has been a huge achievement.”