Highcroft Racing's new HPD ARX-01e hit the track for the first time on Sunday in preparation for this weekend's Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

David Brabham and co-driver Marino Franchitti were on hand to sample the new LMP1 machine - a development of last year's championship-winning LMP2 chassis but now featuring more horsepower, revised suspension, wider Michelin tires and a new aerodynamic configuration featuring considerably less drag.

As last year's LMP2 class polesitter at Sebring, Franchitti was entrusted with the initial shakedown of the car, with the team concentrating on systems checks before bringing it up to speed.

In total, Franchitti and two-time ALMS prototype champion Brabham completed 33 laps in the #01 machine which will do battle this week against the likes of factory teams from Audi and Peugeot, as well as local rivals armed with Mazda and Aston Martin LMP1 prototypes.

"It is fantastic to get in the car again - everyone is so excited about Sebring race week," Brabham commented, "Today was all about systems checks, making sure nothing was rubbing or leaking and I have to congratulate the guys because we had very little go wrong today and it is a great start for the week coming up.

"The Highcroft boys have worked very hard to get the car here. Obviously, we would have liked to been testing before Christmas but it wasn't to be. Everything has been a bit of a rush, but the Highcroft team as usual have just done a phenomenal job.

"One thing that struck me very quickly about the ARX-01e is how fast it is in a straight line because we have Le Mans downforce and a bigger restrictor. It is a lot faster in the straight - and certainly way quicker than what we are used to in this car. That was really exciting to see."

The Highcroft squad will now undertake further preparation prior to Monday's official full-day test, as well as being bedecked in its final Sebring livery, which features technical partner Michelin and its new Pilot Super Sport tyre.

The team's third driver, Simon Pagenaud, has recently arrived at Sebring in preparation for race week, and testing continues on Tuesday prior to the start of official practice on Thursday.

"We're low on downforce, but we're waiting for the grip to come up during the week as we discover what the balance is like, getting the ride heights where they need to be," Brabham concluded, "There is so much for us to do, but we are really just getting started."

The 59th running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring goes green on Saturday [19 March].



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