15 December 2014
Honda Performance Development's new ARX-04b LMP2 coupe receives its first shakedown laps ahead of its planned World Endurance Championship entry.
Extreme Speed Motorsports has given Honda Performance Development's new ARX-04b LMP2 coupe its first shakedown ahead of the car's World Endurance Championship debut in 2015.
The American team, which will coincide the launch of the new closed-roof prototype with its own plans to compete full-time on the international stage, completed a handful of laps in the Honda-developed chassis with Scott Sharp at the wheel.
The new Honda-engined and developed ARX-04b replaces the open-cockpit variant with a new closed-roof design, which is set to become standard across the LMP2 class in the coming years. So far, only Ligier – in association with Onraok Automotive – has adopted the new coupe blueprint, but has already shown impressive pace with the JS P2 during its 2014 development year.
Marking a return for HPD in the WEC – having won the 2012 LMP2 class and contested the 2013 season with a Strakka Racing prepared LMP1 variant -, ESM will enter a pair of chassis, with Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier-Hansson in one car and Johannes Van Overbeek, Ed Brown and Jon Fogarty in another.
“This HPD coupe is very exciting for us, there has been so much anticipation building up to our first laps,” said Sharp. “Huge thanks to the entire Tequila Patrón ESM team, HPD and Wirth for their efforts in getting the coupe delivered, built and on-track today. We've spent many months getting to this point – our hard-working crew, the HPD engineering team and Wirth have been non-stop these last few weeks. They've made huge gains on the car, in addition to the logistics and behind the scenes planning. This has been a long process, but we're super excited about today, tomorrow and the future.
“It is great to finally hit the track. There are so many different elements to the coupe. From the outside, the windshield looks small and we thought visibility would be constricting, but it is very good. The seating position is different and more reclined. We're starting to feel how it performs. Every car has a different characteristic and feel to it; plus the feedback it gives to the driver. All the Tequila Patrón ESM drivers will have to go through that process to really get to know the car.”
Following a much reduced participation in the WEC LMP2 class this season – with just four full-time entries -, 2015 is set to see an influx of new cars based around the coupe formula, as Ligier makes its JS P2 more widely available, while Strakka Racing is set to return with the new, albeit much delayed, DOME S103 and new champions SMP Racing is said to be developing its own model too.
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