Highcroft Racing has unveiled its new Honda Performance Development ARX-01e LMP1 machine which the back-to-back American Le Mans Series champions will take into battle at next week's Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
HPD's latest entry into the overall LMP1 class is powered by a development of the 3.4-litre V8 engine which has been the mainstay of its sportscar activities since the debut of the Acura programme in 2007.
And, although the identity of the third driver to join David Brabham and 2010 co-driver Marino Franchitti for the Florida race has yet to be confirmed, Highcroft has revealed the that the vastly experienced 'Michelin Man' will be riding along with them this season.
Known internationally as Bibendum
, the iconic Michelin mascot - and branding for the company's new Pilot Super Sport tyre - will appear prominently on the side of the #01 machine at Sebring.
While the tub and engine of the ARX-01e may have come from last year's championship-winning LMP2 ARX-01c machine, that is where the similarities end.
The new car features a heavily revised aerodynamic and suspension package design and built by HPD's partner, Wirth Research.
In LMP1 spec, the engine is fed by a larger air restrictor to combat the additional 50kg required for the 900kg LMP1 class and, while the HPD engineers toiled away on the durability testing of the engine at the higher power specification, Wirth Research worked hard to develop the new aero package, which has been designed with an eye to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Compared to the LMP2 car, the ARX-01e also features wider Michelin tyres on both the front - where they are wider by 1.18 inches - and rear, which are wider by 2.36 inches.
"The way the rules have gone this year, it seemed like a natural fit to take the engine that has been so successful in the LMP2 class and use the basis of that for the LMP1 class," said HPD vice-president Steve Eriksen, "With the change in restrictor size and wheel/tyre package available, we believed we could have a pretty competitive package, especially considering the ACO's desire to better balance the performance of the diesel- and petrol-powered cars. This package represents a good, solid base to compete in LMP1."
Since the commencement of the partnership between Honda Performance Development and Highcroft Racing in 2007, the Danbury-based squad has recorded a major series of milestones for HPD - first overall ALMS win, first ALMS LMP1 victory, first LMP1 championship, first team to record back-to-back titles and the highest ALMS point-scoring team in every season of the initial Acura programme.