Highcroft has revealed the first images of the new LMP1 version of the HPD as it prepares to take Honda engines back to sports car racing's top level.
HPD stepped back to its LMP2-spec car last year when the American Le Mans Series temporarily combined its prototype classes, but this year it will return to LMP1. The Wirth Research-designed car retains the same chassis and engine, but has a new restrictor to increase the power to LMP1 levels, plus extensive aerodynamic and suspension changes.
HPD vice president Steve Eriksen said he had no doubts that adapting the car rather than creating a totally new design was the right way forward.
"The way the rules have gone this year, it seemed like a natural fit to take the engine that has been so successful in the LMP2 class and use the basis of that for the LMP1 class," he said. "With the change in restrictor size and wheel/tire package available, we believed we could have a pretty competitive package, especially considering the ACO's desire to better balance the performance of the diesel- and gasoline-powered cars. This package represents a good, solid base to compete in LMP1."
He insisted that the car was a significantly different machine to the LMP2 variant used by Highcroft to take the 2010 ALMS title.
"There has been a lot of work put in by the folks at Wirth Research on this chassis conversion," said Eriksen. "It is not just a case of bolting on LMP1-sized wheels and installing a bigger restrictor. The work completed by both Wirth and Highcroft in a short space of time has to be applauded, and I believe we should have a package which should be very aerodynamically efficient and should achieve very strong results."
The Highcroft HPD is currently only confirmed for the Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours. David Brabham and Marino Franchitti have been announced as its first two drivers for Sebring, with the final three-man lineup to be revealed tomorrow.