Strakka Racing won the LM P2 class at Le Mans in 2010 with HPD chassis and engine
Photo: © 2011 Anne Proffit
Santa Clarita, CA-based Honda Performance Development (HPD) had a grand start to its American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) competition during the 59th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring earlier in March. Now the company is preparing for its two-car assault on the Europe-based Le Mans Series competition at Paul Ricard road-course circuit in France, site of the season opening race.
With defending LM P2 champions RML switching from a Lola coupe to the ARX-01d open car for the 2011 campaign and with Le Mans-winning Strakka Racing continuing with the ARX chassis, HPD feels confident that it's got the right combination to fare well - even with a new production-based HPD HR28TT V-6 engine under the cowling.
RML continues with the same driver line-up as 2010 in Ben Collins, Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton. Strakka's driver complement is Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts.
"Once again, HPD will be competing in sports-prototype events around the globe, noted Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president. "Our year got off to a great start at Sebring. Second overall and in LM P1 with the brand-new Highcroft Racing ARX-01e; and the LM P2 class win with our new partner Level 5 Motorsports.
"Now the European season starts," Eriksen continued. "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 Motorsports joins the European competition in May at Spa Franchorchamps in Belgium, which is the second round for both the LMS and ILMC. A rather ambitious effort, Level 5 - owned and led by driver Scott Tucker - will field an HPD-powered Lola coupe for the ILMC rounds and continue with a pair of HPD-Lola's in ALMS competition. Level 5's full-time driver grouping includes team principal Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz.
The new HPD LM P2 engine comes from Honda's production-based global V-6 and uses HPD's exclusive engine control system. It is a join effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas, Inc., based in Ohio.
© 2011 Anne Proffit