After back-to-back American Le Mans Series titles, and beating the works Audi and Peugeot teams at Sebring earlier this year, David Brabham was looking forward to taking the Highcroft Racing team back into battle at the most prestigious sportscar event of them all next month, but his dream appears to be over - for the time being at least.

Brabham and team-mate Marino Franchitti were due to return to the Highcroft line-up at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, but have now been told that the team's entry has been withdrawn following the sudden conclusion of a highly-successful five-year partnership with Honda.

The team had intended to run the HPD ARX-01e in next month's 24 Hours but, given the situation in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami, and its impact on Honda, Highcroft has been obliged to withdraw its entry at Le Mans, due to lack of adequate financial support.

"We have had an amazing relationship with all the associates at Honda, Acura, Honda Performance Development and Wirth Research over the past five years, and it is with deep regret that our amazing run has come to an end," team owner Duncan Dayton said.

"We are extremely proud of what we have achieved with our partners. When we were first selected as a factory team, nobody expected we would be able to run with some of the biggest names in racing, that came across from IndyCar racing.

"Not only did we prove that we were competitive, but we became the team the beat. We are equally proud of the great working relationships we built with HPD and Wirth Research developing the cars and turning them into winning machines."

"We certainly appreciate the massive impact the earthquake and tsunami has had on the people of Japan and the huge challenges facing Japanese business.

"It appears this may have contributed to Honda's decision and we fully respect and understand their position.

"Everyone was really looking forward to taking the ARX-01e to Le Mans - we really believed the car could have been extremely competitive.

"Le Mans is one of the greatest races in the world, but it requires significant financial and physical resources to compete at the highest levels. Whatever we do, we want to be able to do it properly and it just isn't viable at this time without proper backing.

"I am deeply disappointed for our team at Highcroft Racing, who were really looking forward to the race, and for David and Marino, who are left without a ride at Le Mans at a very late stage.

"Our drivers have been truly incredible in recent years and I know they are as disappointed as we are that the ARX-01e will not be at Le Mans."

Highcroft was selected as one of the initial factory Acura teams for the brand's debut in the American Le Mans Series in 2007 and, throughout the partnership, established itself as not only the highest-scoring team out of four to carry the Acura badge, but collected back-to-back ALMS championships in 2009 and 2010.

Highcroft scored 11 race wins for Honda, nine pole positions and 28 podium finishes from only 42 races, including its gallant second place finish at Sebring, where it defeated both factory Audi and Peugeot entries.

It was the only ALMS team of any class to score a podium finish in every round of the championship in 2010. It's championship victory last season came in the most competitive year in ALMS history where five different teams and manufacturers took overall victory.

The team also won the 2010 Michelin Green X Challenge Championship for optimising overall on-track performance, while using the least amount of fuel.

Highcroft completed a number of firsts for Honda in the development of the sportscar programme, including the first overall race victory, first LMP1 victory, first championship and an amazing effort in 2010, where it took an LMP2 chassis to overall series victory in the combined LMP1/LMP2 class - taking the teams' title, the drivers' championship for Brabham and Simon Pagenaud, as well as the manufacturers' championship for HPD with a single car entry.

Highcroft is now actively seeking new manufacturer relationships and is beginning discussions regarding future programmes - both in sports cars and other championships. The team has been linked to a possible Indycar entry.

"For our future, we need to take the next step in the development of our team," Dayton confirmed, "It is now in a position to start with a clean slate and work towards our next championship assault with new partners.

"Our organisation was established as a platform for manufacturers to showcase their technology on the world stage through motorsport.

"We still have very big goals and ambitions - including additional victories in the ALMS, as well as Le Mans and IndyCar."



Loading Comments...