After speculation since the last 2011 American Le Mans Series race about what prototype they might be running, Greg Pickett's Muscle Milk Pickett Racing squad confirmed Tuesday it will switch to an HPD ARX-03a for the 2012 season.
The car is an evolution of the P1-spec HPD run by Highcroft Racing to second place at the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring, the then HPD ARX-01e. HPD was not active for the remainder of the 2011 ALMS in P1, while Muscle Milk campaigned a Lola Aston Martin that brought four wins and later in the season, a litany of ill-timed mechanical woes.
The deal is part of a multifaceted, long-term relationship between CytoSport – Pickett's health and nutrition company and the makers of Muscle Milk – and American Honda, that includes Muscle Milk's title sponsorship of the Honda factory motocross team now known as Team Honda Muscle Milk.
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, entering its third full season of competition in the ALMS in 2012, also confirmed the continued support of long-time partner Michelin as its tire supplier as well as the return of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr to its driver lineup.
“We're very proud to announce this deal with HPD as we feel confident that their car and engine package along with our tire partner Michelin offer us the best combination to achieve our ultimate goal of 2012, which is to win the LMP1 championship,” Pickett said.
“We are really excited to work with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. Having competed against them in the past, we are well aware of their strong potential to win on any given race weekend,” added Steve Eriksen, Honda Performance Development vice president.
Graf and Luhr competed as co-drivers in all but one 2011 round, the exception at Baltimore as Luhr had a prior FIA GT1 World Championship commitment and Romain Dumas was called in at short notice. Because the team needed to replace an electrical wiring loom, Dumas' first laps in the car came when the race started, with the Frenchman starting at the rear of the grid.
Muscle Milk has added an LMPC program for Memo Gidley and Michael Guasch as well in 2012. Third drivers for both cars have yet to be determined for the endurance rounds of the championship.