HPD Teams Begin LMS Championship Defense
After a great start to the American Le Mans Series and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup seasons at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this month, two more Honda Performance Development sports-prototype teams open their European-based Le Mans Series seasons this weekend at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
Defending LMP2 champion RML returns with an intact driver lineup of Ben Collins, Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton, but a new chassis. The British-based team has gained a new HPD ARX-01d, running on Dunlop tires, to go with the new-for-2011 production-based HPD HR28TT V-6 engine.
A three-race winner in LMS last season – and the LMP2 winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – Strakka Racing returns with its ARX chassis, updated to "01d" specifications and running Michelin tires, to go with the new HR28TT engine. The proven Strakka driver lineup includes Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts.
"Once again, HPD will be competing in sports-prototype events around the globe," said Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president. "Our year got off to a great start at Sebring: Second overall and in LMP1 with the brand-new Highcroft Racing ARX-01e; and the LMP2 class win with our new partner Level 5 Motorsports.
"Now the European season starts. We've given ourselves a tough act to follow after last season's successes, but we're excited about taking on that challenge."
Level 5 will join the European campaign at Spa in May, in the second round of both the LMS and the International Le Mans Cup. The Scott Tucker-led team will field an HPD-powered Lola coupe for the ILMC rounds, to go with a pair HPD-Lolas utilized in American Le Mans Series competition. The full-time Level 5 driver lineup includes team principal Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz.
Based on Honda's production-based global V-6, the new HPD HR28TT engine utilizes HPD's exclusive engine-control system, and is the product of a joint effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA).
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993 and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans.