Lowe's Fernandez Racing and driver Adrian Fernandez completed more than 250 trouble-free miles of testing Tuesday and Wednesday on the 1.25-mile Firebird East circuit, utilizing the new Acura LM V-8 engine fitted to a Lola B05/40 chassis and running on Michelin competition tires.
"This test is the next step in the fulfillment of the project that will make Honda Performance Development a full-fledged, self-sufficient Research and Development company," said Robert Clarke, president of HPD. "The initial step was to build the infrastructure and facilities to support the Acura effort, and the second was to actually build the American Le Mans Series engine.
"We've had the engine on the dynamometer for more than three months, so we expected it to run reliably during the test," Clarke added, "although we weren't 100 percent certain what would happen when the engine and chassis were put together in a single package."
On Tuesday, Fernandez completed a total of 102 laps with no mechanical problems despite temperatures that reached 108 degrees, recording a best lap time of 48.7 seconds. Wednesday, Fernandez completed an additional 105 trouble-free laps, in equally hot conditions, and lowered his best lap time to 47.26 seconds.
"The two-day test at Firebird was actually the third step in the process, and was certainly a special moment in the overall development of the program," Clarke said. "To see a car on the race track with an engine completely designed and developed by HPD was truly historic, and a proud moment for the company. The fact that the test has gone so smoothly and successfully is a tribute to everyone involved with the program and a great source of pride as well."
Fernandez and team co-owner Tom Anderson were equally upbeat following the conclusion of the test. "I can't remember a first test with a brand-new package ever going this well," Fernandez said. "Everyone at Acura and Lowe's Fernandez Racing just did a tremendous job in preparing this car. I can't say enough. All their hard work got us off to a great start, and also allowed us to begin our testing program for next year early.
"My first laps in the car were unbelievable," Fernandez continued. "The sound of the engine, the effortless steering, the brakes, it was a tremendous experience. The car is fast! It felt great from the start, and I was amazed at how quickly we were able to make strides to continually get the car better and better. I'm thrilled that Lowe's Fernandez Racing is a partner with Acura in this project, and extremely encouraged and excited for our first season in American Le Mans next year."
"This is without a doubt the strongest opening test for any new racing program that I have ever witnessed," said Anderson, who began his career in sports car racing. "It shows the awesome talent and dedication strengths of HPD, Lola and Michelin to the American Le Mans Series program. It is such a pleasure to watch the car run. We can hardly wait to see it run again as our testing program continues through the fall and winter."
The Acura Motorsports program features the first racing engine completely designed and developed in-house by HPD of Santa Clarita, California, Honda's wholly-owned racing subsidiary. It also marks the first time HPD has taken on multiple concurrent motorsports programs in both the American Le Mans Series and Indy Racing League.
The American Le Mans Series draws on the heritage of long-distance "endurance" sports car racing in both Europe and the United States, as exemplified by the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. The series includes the 12 Hours of Sebring - a U.S. fixture since 1952 - plus events at the country's premier road circuits, including Road America, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Laguna Seca, Miller Motorsports Park and Road Atlanta.
Testing of the Acura LMP2 entries will continue in October, with the American Le Mans competition debut taking place next March at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Three teams will campaign the 2007 ALMS championship utilizing Acura LM V-8 power, with Andretti Green Racing and Highcroft Racing joining Lowe's Fernandez Racing under the Acura Motorsports banner.
Acura offers a full line of technologically advanced luxury performance vehicles through a nationwide network of more than 260 dealers. The 2007 Acura lineup features five distinctive models, the RL luxury sedan, the TL performance luxury sedan, the TSX sports sedan, the turbo-charged RDX luxury crossover utility vehicle and the award-winning MDX luxury sport utility vehicle. For more information about Acura vehicles, please visit www.acura.com. For media inquiries, please go to www.acuranews.com.