The Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-01c chassis, designed and developed by Wirth Research, has been quick to make an impression in the world's two top sportscar series staged on both sides of the Atlantic.
HPD's latest LMP2 chassis iteration is competing in the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the 2010 Le Mans Series (LMS) as well as racing in this summer's running of the historic Le Mans 24 Hours.
The long-standing collaboration between Wirth Research and Honda Performance Development has produced many international successes since 2004. In 2009 both P1 and P2 Acura chassis won the two major prototype classes in the American Le Mans Series.
In response to a change in ALMS regulations, which now sees a combined P1 and P2 category, the title winning Patrón Highcroft Racing team is running an HPD ARX-01c in its latest technical configuration. The first race for the combined prototype class was staged on the famous streets of Long Beach last weekend (17 April) and the HPD ARX-01c maximised its agility on the tight downtown track to overcome its more powerful and faster rivals and score a dramatic debut victory (photo above).
After a strong start to the race by David Brabham, teammate Simon Pagenaud nipped past the leading V12 powered Aston Martin mid-way round the final lap to take the chequered flag. Just 0.353 of a second separated the two cars as they flashed over the finishing line after one hour 40 minutes of memorable racing.
Victory in Long Beach came just six days after an equally impressive win in the opening round of this year's Le Mans Series staged at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France. For the high-speed characteristics of the European circuits featured on the LMS calendar - as well as the notoriously fast lay-out of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours circuit - the HPD ARX-01c chassis as raced by the Silverstone-based Strakka Racing team competes in a low downforce configuration.
This aero package has been designed by Wirth Research utilising the groundbreaking ‘Development in the Digital Domain' techniques as showcased by another of the company's motor sport clients, the new Virgin Racing Grand Prix team. Similar to the F1 chassis, the bespoke HPD ARX-01c aero package has been developed using advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and has been tested extensively on the state-of-the-art Wirth Research simulator.
Taking full advantage of these technologies, the Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01c dominated the P2 category on its debut at Ricard. Danny Watts qualified the car more than two seconds clear of the field and then, together with teammates Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis dominated the eight-hour race. The team even overcame an unscheduled seven-minute pit-stop for minor bodywork repairs to take a convincing win.
"Two wins in less than a week is a remarkable achievement for all involved in our exciting HPD ARX-01c prototype programme," confirmed Nick Wirth. "You could not find two more different sportscar events than the barrier-lined streets of Long Beach and high-speed lay-out of Paul Ricard and yet the HPD ARX-01c was victorious in both challenging environments. We congratulate both Patrón Highcroft Racing and Strakka Racing in showcasing our technologies with such success and are confident both teams will have more to celebrate as the season progresses - hopefully at Le Mans, too."
The 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours will be a very special event for Wirth Research with both Strakka Racing and Highcroft Racing debuting their HPD ARX-01c chassis at the classic event. The two teams feature very strong driver combinations - Highcroft Racing's line-up includes David Brabham, winner of last year's Le Mans 24 Hours and the reigning ALMS Champion.