Despite only running for the first time days early the new HPD ARX-01e has proved itself a capable machine, exchanging the fastest times of the opening tests sessions at Sebring with the Audis and Peugeots expected to dominate the race.
The team began Monday's test sessions with David Brabham at the wheel of the LMP1 car setting a fastest time 1:48.323. After only shaking down the new car on Saturday – after previously working in simulators – the session was the first time Highcroft Racing had been able to see how their new charge compares to the competition.
Positively it would seem as Brabham's time was enough to see the car end the morning session, sandwiched between the works diesel Audis and Peugeots which have dominated sportscar racing in recent years – a diesel has claimed overall victory at Sebring every year since 2006.
If anything the afternoon session saw an improvement. While all three of the team's drivers had stints behind the wheel – Marino Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud joining Brabham – it was Brabham again who logged the best time, putting the car top of the timesheets for 90 minutes. As if to emphasise the developmental nature of the tests the car was absent for much of the session while newly arrived parts were installed on the chassis.
“The car has been running very reliably and straight off the truck it has been very fast,” said Brabham. “We know there is a lot more speed to come but there is a good feeling here at the team at the moment.”
“Everyone at Highcroft, HPD, the Wirth engineers,- everyone has been burning the midnight oil to try to get this car sorted and to see it run as competitively straight out of the box has given everyone a huge lift.”
“It has been a very good first day with a strong foundation. We have some things to try tomorrow that I am sure will produce some more speed.”
Eventually Brabham's marker was pushed back to second fastest by the no.2 Audi, but the pace inherent in HPD and Highcroft Racing's latest challenger was apparent.
Testing continues until the first official practice session on Thursday, the team expecting to be developing the though all the remaining sessions.