Acura announce 2009 LMP1 move

Acura will move up to the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series next season, with Highcroft Racing and De Ferran Motorsports graduating from LMP2 with the manufacturer

Acura announce 2009 LMP1 move

Fernandez Racing will continue to represent Acura in LMP2, but Andretti Green Racing seem set to drop out of Acura's ALMS line-up.

The long-rumoured LMP1 move was confirmed in a press conference in Detroit today.

"Since launching the Acura American Le Mans Series program in 2007, our goal has always been to compete at the highest level of sports-car racing," said John Mendel, Executive Vice President of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Company.

"The LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series represents the pinnacle of sports-car racing in this country, from both a competitive and technological standpoint. As we prepare to elevate Acura to Tier One status among luxury road cars, we feel it only appropriate to make this move to the uppermost level of American Le Mans Series competition, as well."

ALMS president Scott Atherton said the news was a major boost for the series and the LMP1 class, in which Audi have been the only competitive team this season.

"When Acura announced in 2006 its intentions to join the American Le Mans Series, advancement to LMP1 was one of the first questions many asked," Atherton said.

"We are delighted to see that Acura and Honda Performance Development have answered that question, especially because they have done it in such a powerful and positive way.

"In two short seasons, Acura has gone from adjusting to the unique challenges of American Le Mans Series prototype racing to winning with regularity and contending for driver, team and manufacturer championships.

"Now comes the next logical step with its move to LMP1. Competing head-to-head on a direct level with such prototype powers like Audi is a formidable task, but this year has shown that Acura and its teams are more than up to the challenge."

Acura first entered the ALMS in the LMP2 class in 2007, with single car operations for AGR, Highcroft and Fernandez. The former took a class victory on their debut in the Sebring 12 Hours, but struggled to beat the Porsches for the rest of the season.

But Acura took a major step forward this year, adding the de Ferran team to their line-up, taking their first outright victory with Highcroft at Lime Rock, and challenging Penske for the LMP2 title.

The ALMS LMP1 announcement will encourage further speculation about a possible Acura assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours.

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