Highcroft Racing and Honda Performance Development wastd little time in demonstrating that this weekend's opening round of the American Le Mans Series may not just see European manufacturers dominating the timesheets.
After a successful shakedown run for the car on Saturday, the HPD ARX-01e ran in anger for the first time on Monday, with David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti swapping fast times with Audi and Peugeot.
Brabham set the team's fastest time of the day in the morning session – stopping the clocks at 1min 48.323secs to leave the new HPD machine sandwiched in third spot, with an Audi and Peugeot in front and a similar combination behind in fourth and fifth.
In the afternoon session, Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti all spent time behind the wheel of the ARX-01e as the Highcroft team topped the timesheets for 90 minutes of the second test before returning to the paddock to install new development parts that arrived at the track during the morning.
The team's afternoon time of 1min 48.448secs was eventually pushed back into second spot by the #2 factory Audi, but the back-to-back American Le Mans Series champions had clearly demonstrated the impressive potential of the new HPD package.
“I have been very impressed by the car and by the outstanding work that everyone has done over the past couple of weeks,"
Brabham commented, “The car has been running very reliably and, straight off the truck, it has been very fast. We know there is a lot more speed to come, but there is a good feeling here at the team at the moment.
“Everyone at Highcroft, HPD, the Wirth engineers, everyone has been burning the midnight oil to try to get this car sorted and to see it run as competitively straight out of the box has given everyone a huge lift.
“It has been a very good first day with a strong foundation. We have some things to try tomorrow that I am sure will produce some more speed.”
In total, the team completed 32 laps during the morning session and a further 28 during the afternoon, and will return to the track on Tuesday for two one-hour test sessions with the new Wirth Research-developed parts installed on the car.
Official practice for the opening round of the ALMS and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup kicks off on Thursday.