When Acura and Highcroft Racing announced last month that the defending American Le Mans Series prototype champions would switch back to running a P2 car in 2010, the fate of the de Ferran Motorsports team was left hanging in the balance. That fate has now been decided, as Acura and de Ferran have announced the end of their relationship. Gil de Ferran's team was launched at the beginning of 2008 and ran the second half of the season in one of Acura's P2 cars before moving up to P1 this year. The team won five races in 2009 but fell short of the overall championship.
Unfortunately, the continuing recession means that Honda has had to cut back its support for the ALMS program and de Ferran Motorsports is being cut loose. Last summer, de Ferran announced the addition of an IRL program for 2010. At this point, it's not clear whether Acura will be able to bring in a second team for the 2010 ALMS campaign.
Honda Performance Development, de Ferran Motorsports Conclude Agreement
TORRANCE, Calif. - 12/22/2009
Honda Performance Development, Inc. announces an amicable and successful conclusion to the agreement under which de Ferran Motorsports served as the primary testing and development team for the Acura sports-car program.
The de Ferran team spent the past two motorsports seasons testing and developing Acura's ARX-01b and ARX-02a prototypes for American Le Mans Series competition. In 2009, de Ferran Motorsports played an integral role in helping Acura become the first manufacturer to win ALMS LMP1 and LMP2 prototype championships in the same season.
Beyond its testing and developmental work, the de Ferran team contributed to Acura's success by winning five of 10 ALMS LMP1 events during the 2009 season, and finishing second in the LMP1 team championship.
"Economic pressures have required us to change our plans, so we must regretfully conclude our testing and development agreement with the de Ferran Motorsports team," explained Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, Inc., the racing arm of American Honda. "Since beginning competition in the fifth round of the 2008 ALMS championship, de Ferran Motorsports has contended regularly for race victories, and waged a spirited battle in pursuit of the 2009 LMP1 championship.
"We would like to express our deep gratitude to the members of the de Ferran team for the countless contributions they made to our success in sports-car racing during the past two seasons," Berkman added. "We could never have accomplished our historic dual championships without the dedication and focus that every member of the de Ferran team brought to the program. We thank de Ferran Motorsports for its professionalism and commitment, and wish [team owner] Gil [de Ferran] and his team every success imaginable in its motorsports future."
Said Gil de Ferran, "I have a long standing and successful relationship with Honda, spanning over a decade in different guises. I was delighted that we were able to serve Honda's needs during the 2008 and 2009 Acura sports-car campaigns and it is unfortunate that our relationship could not continue under the current economic restrictions. Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Honda for its support and its part in making de Ferran Motorsports a reality and a successful team."