The full benefits of Wirth Research's advanced all-digital aerodynamic and chassis development processes were proven once again last weekend when the new HPD ARX-01g prototype scored its second emphatic American Le Mans Series victory in just two weeks.
Having won on debut at Laguna Seca in California just days after being completed in the UK, the new ‘cost-capped' HPD ARX-01g, jointly developed by Wirth Research and Honda Performance Development, re-emphasised its speed and stamina with an even more impressive victory in last weekend's Petit Le Mans 1000-mile race at Road Atlanta.
In September Wirth Research and Honda Performance Development (HPD) announced a new long-term technical partnership building on the global successes achieved in recent years - a partnership that has produced numerous class and/or outright victories in all the world's premier sportscar races and championships including the Le Mans 24 Hours and 12 Hours of Sebring.
The latest chapter in the globally successful sportscar partnership features the recently announced HPD ARX-03a - a new LMP1 contender for 2012 powered by a normally aspirated 3.4-litre Honda V8 - as well as the new cost-capped HPD ARX-01g which has now announced its arrival in style with two flawless victories.
Though an evolution of the pace-setting HPD ARX-01d, the new HPD ARX-01g is designed specifically to meet the ACO's recently announced budget-cutting regulations aimed at rejuvenating LMP2 for private entrants. Power comes from the same production-based HR28TT 2.8-litre twin-turbo V6 created by Honda Performance Development in partnership with Honda R&D Americas but the chassis is engineered to meet the new EUR 355,000 maximum permitted cost. Like the HPD ARX-03a, the ARX-01g is designed as a customer car and the US-based Level 5 Motorsports is the privately owned team responsible for the car's instant success in the States.
Incredibly the new HPD prototype hadn't turned a wheel until the Wednesday before its introduction at Laguna Seca and had less than three hours of combined running time before the race start. However taking full advantage of Wirth Research's famed virtual environment technologies, the Microsoft Office 2010-sponsored car ran like clockwork through all six hours giving drivers Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz a famous debut win.
Fresh from that triumph, the HPD ARX-01g faced an even tougher challenge in the classic 1000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance classic - final round of both the 2011 American Le Mans Series and penultimate round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Despite the strength of the LMP1 and LMP2 opposition and minimal pre-event track testing, the Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-01g raced by Tucker, Bouchut and Joao Barbosa won its class for the second time in as many races (this time by eight laps) and finished a notable sixth overall - a result that once again demonstrates the strength of the HPD package even in the early stages of its development in its latest cost-capped configuration.
"The competition was real tough and we knew this was going to be a real big battle for us," said team owner Tucker. "We still have a lot of work to do on the car but we did a great job with it. Joao and Christophe drove a great race. We didn't miss a beat. With the car being just three weeks old and having gone through a six-hour race and now a 1,000-mile race as well with no problems, we're real fortunate with that."
Nick Wirth, President of Wirth Research, was quick to praise Level 5 for its achievements as well as to re-emphasise the ground-breaking technology maximised to produce such a strong showing on debut.
"Hats off to all of those at Level 5 and HPD for this latest victory in what has been an incredibly successful international ARX sports prototype programme," said Wirth. "The unrivalled combination of speed and stamina displayed with so little track running once again speak for themselves and underline the heights we have achieved with our unique all-digital development process. By maximising the potential of Computational Fluid Dynamics aerodynamic technology as well as the other key digital elements, we can avoid the costs of wind-tunnel and track testing - not to mention environmental costs - and offer our customers a value-orientated state-of-the-art prototype that's capable of immediate race-winning performance at the very highest level.
"Not only were Honda Performance Development capable of being one of the first to respond to the ACO's new cost-cutting LMP2 engine regulations but have now, in partnership with Wirth Research, produced a new cost-cutting chassis evolution of the HPD-ARX that's already adding to the car's remarkable record of international success. By our calculations the HPD-ARX is the world's most victorious sports prototype of its generation. To date it has chalked up no fewer than 33 class wins and 14 of these were outright victories," enthused Wirth.
With two wins already under its belt, Level 5 Motorsports will be aiming to give the HPD ARX-01g a hat-trick of victories in next month's Six Hours of Zhuhai in China, the seventh and final round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup season.