Two-time American Le Mans Series champion David Brabham will again spearhead Highcroft Racing's bid for success in the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring after being confirmed as the first of its three drivers for the opening round of 2011.
The Australian has played a key role in the development of the team's new HPD ARX-01e LMP1 machine, completing miles aboard the Wirth Research simulator in the UK in preparation for the Sebring race, which doubles as the opening round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Brabham joined Highcroft Racing in 2007 with the launch of the factory Acura LMP2 team and has been the mainstay of the squad – leading the Duncan Dayton-owned organisation to eleven ALMS class victories and championship wins in 2009 and 2010.
“It will be great to get out there and start running and, from what I have seen so far, the HPD ARX-01e has enormous potential,” Brabham said, “I have driven the car on the simulator and been very impressed, but until we get it out there on the track we really won't know for sure.
“Obviously, we would have preferred to have had more testing miles under our belt prior to the Sebring race but, if there is one thing I know about the guys at Highcroft Racing, it is that they respond to pressure in the best possible way and do an outstanding job.”
The ARX-01e is due to hit the track at Sebring later this week, before completing more testing miles on Monday and Tuesday (14-15 March. Official practice for Sebring begins on Thursday 17 March.
Brabham is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to return to the track to ascertain how the new-for-2011 rules package balances out the competition between the dominant diesel-powered prototypes and the ARX-01e's 3.4-litre petrol-powered Honda Performance Development package.
“Audi and Peugeot have had their cars out there earlier than anybody so they will be better prepared than anyone,” he said, “Our goal is to fast track the development of the 01e and Sebring is the perfect environment for that. Sebring is a great place to test a car in what really is a violent environment – it is certainly the toughest race in the world on equipment.
“It has been a real pleasure to be involved with these development programmes from the first LMP2 car through to the ARX-02a with which we won the championship in 2009. To now have a newly designed LMP1 version ready to compete at Sebring is very exciting. I'm really looking forward to continuing that process with the new car.”