Patr?n Highcroft Racing team owner Duncan Dayton is confident Acura can challenge Audi and Peugeot during the 2009 Sebring 12 Hours, its first event as an LMP1 manufacturer.

Acura, a sub-division of the Honda brand, revealed the much anticipated ARX-02a during testing for the new American Le Mans Series at Sebring as they prepare to compete in the LMP1 class for the first time.

Making their sportscar debut two years ago in the LMP2 class, Acura have quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, winning two outright races in 23 starts against formidable rivals Audi and Porsche.

Although Audi and Porsche won't be present for the majority of the season, Acura will still have a fight on their hands in their first race with the striking new car as they go head-to-head with Audi and Peugeot's diesel entrants during the Sebring endurance classic.

Nonetheless, Dayton, team boss of the Patr?n Highcroft Racing team, is confident the new car will be competitive out of the box.

"I think everyone here tonight that came to take a look at these cars can feel the passion and excitement we have at Patr?n Highcroft Racing about developing the Acura ARX-02a," he said.

"To have the opportunity to work with Honda Performance Development and Wirth Research to develop these cars and compete at the highest level is an absolute privilege and honor for everybody at the team. We are thrilled to be part of the Acura family.

"I believe the battle that Acura had with Porsche and Audi last year was some of the greatest racing in the history of sports car competition in North America and we now look forward to challenging Audi and Peugeot for LMP1 honours at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March."

Along with Patr?n Highcroft Racing, Gil de Ferran Motorsports will campaign a car too, the former Indy 500 winner taking on the role of team owner and driver alongside young team-mate Simon Pagenaud.

"The craftsmanship of this new Acura is outstanding. And the new, four-litre Acura engine and transmission are powerful and solid. We are in a big learning process with the Acura ARX-02a sports car. Now, we have to continue the development to be prepared for the 12 Hours of Sebring and beyond."

Acura will continue to be represented in the LMP2 category with the Lowe's Fernandez Racing team campaigning a revised ARX-01b.



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