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Highcroft Racing has dominated the LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series for the past 4 years, but the program didn’t seem to be doing much to promote the Acura brand. In light of that, the car will now be branded as a Honda Performance Development car, a move that signals both a positive shift for Honda’s in-house go-fast division, and a bad omen for the company’s beleaguered luxury division.
This year, Highcroft will be campaigning their new entry in the much tougher LMP1 class. Patron will also no longer be sponsoring the car, having decided to instead sponsor the ALMS series as a whole. Michelin will step up to provide the funding for Highcroft. The new car, dubbed ARX-01e, will share the same tub and 3.4L V8 as the LMP2 cars of years past, but everything from the suspension to the aerodynamic package will change to make the car more competitive for LMP1.
With legendary race cars like the Audi R15 and Peugeot 908HDi as the top dogs of LMP1, Highcroft will have a tough fight ahead of them if they want to gain any ground. The first race, held in Sebring, Florida, kicks off Saturday.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Honda Performance Development is the first engine manufacturer to release details of an engine that complies with the ACO’s revised technical regulations that go into effect for the 2011 ALMS/Le Mans season. This new HPD LMP2 engine, based on Honda‘s global V6 engine used in everything from the Accord to the Acura ZDX, is a 2.8-liter twin-turbo that utilizes HPD’s exclusive engine-control system.
This engine is the product of a joint effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA). Product R&D engineers from HRA’s Raymond, Ohio center worked with HPD race engineers to create a powerful racing engine that meets the new regulations that state that the engine must be production-based and must cost no more than $90,000.
It is expected that this new 2.8-liter turbo V6 will be fitted to Highcroft Racing’s P2 chassis for competition in the American Le Mans series, while in Europe it will be Strakka Racing putting this engine to use in the European Le Mans series. It’s unclear at this point if Highcroft and Strakka will be required to manufacture a new chassis for 2011 or if their existing P2 cars (which are currently powered by a 3.4-liter V8) will be allowed to run the new turbo V6. We’ll let you know as soon as these details become available.
[Source: Honda Performance Development]