The Acura Honda brand has scored its first outright American Le Mans Series win at only its 17th attempt.
The Highcroft Acura driven by David Brabham and Scott Sharp claimed a last-gasp victory at Lime Rock Park in July. The win finally broke a sequence of ALMS victories by Audi and Porsche that goes back to the factory Zytek team’s success at Laguna Seca in 2005.
Honda Performance Development boss Erik Berkman, who manages Acura’s motor sport activities, said: “Winning overall is a new milestone for this young programme, but we have to continue to work hard and keep pushing.”
The win was testament to the ongoing development by HPD and Wirth Technologies in the UK. Not only was the Highcroft Acura ARX-01b running new front-end aero developments at Lime Rock, but the improved serviceability targeted by Nick Wirth and his team for 2008 played a crucial role in the victory.
Sharp was running nearly a lap down with a broken rear diffuser when the safety car came out. Highcroft brought him in and despatched Brabham with fuel and new tyres onto the back of the safety car queue. He was then called in for a new rear wing and diffuser assembly but made it out without losing a lap.
Acura’s plans to move up to the LMP1 division in 2009 are still up in the air because of uncertainty over new Le Mans rules due to come into force in 2010. The publication of these rules is not expected until November.
Berkman suggested it was unlikely Acura would take an LMP1 car to Le Mans next year: ”It would be difficult in our first year of such a programme.”