After a successful five season of partnership Highcroft Racing and Honda have parted company with immediate effect. The move rules the Connecticut based team out of next month's Le Mans 24 Hours.
The team, headed by Duncan Dayton, were selected by Acura to be a factory supported team in the American Le Mans Series in 2007 when the manufacturer made its initial steps into the modern era of sportscar racing.
“We certainly appreciate the massive impact the earthquake and tsunami has had on the people of Japan and the huge challenges facing Japanese business,” said Dayton. “It appears this may have contributed to Honda's decision and we fully respect and understand their position.”
Running in the bright green tequila Patron colours which they became almost synonymous with the team the team picked up numerous accolades, scoring Acura's first overall and LMP1 class wins and winning the 2010 Michelin Green-X Challenge title and back to back ALMS titles in 2009 and 2010, the former coming in their only season with Acura's ARX-02 LMP1 chassis.
Last season the team reverted to the LMP2 ARX-01 design, travelling to Le Mans to take part in the 24 hours, where they showed great pace before reliability problems took away their chance of victory.
At last March's 12 Hours of Sebring the team debuted a highly developed version of the ARX-01 chassis, running to the new LMP1 regulations, and were the only petrol engine team capable of challenging the diesel during the event. The team and drivers David Brabham and Marino Franchitti had been hoping to do the same on a repeat trip to Le Mans this year, the team having been given a place on the entry list.
“We are extremely proud of what we have achieved with our partners,” said Dayton. “When we were first selected as a factory team, nobody expected we would be able to run with some of the biggest names in racing, that came across from Indycar racing.”
“Not only did we prove that we were competitive, but we became the team the beat. We are equally proud of the great working relationships we built with HPD and Wirth Research developing the cars and turning them into winning machines.”
“Our drivers have been truly incredible in recent years and I know they are as disappointed.”
“Everyone was really looking forward to taking the ARX-01e to Le Mans – we really believed the car could have been extremely competitive.”
“Le Mans is one of the greatest races in the world, but it requires significant financial and physical resources to compete at the highest levels. Whatever we do, we want to be able to do it properly and it just isn't viable at this time without proper backing.”
The team is now actively seeking new manufacturer relationships, confident that they're work with Honda has shown they can showcase a brands technology on the world stage.