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 |  Mar 17 2011, 1:10 PM

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

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