One of the most notable absences from this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is Honda Performance Development’s new LMP2 challenger, which as part of a joint decision, has seen Tequila Patron ESM revert to HPD’s tried-and-trusted ARX-03b for the time being.
According to HPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Eriksen, a decision will be made within the next 30 days to finalize the LMP2 car’s re-entry into competition, likely for later this season in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“We’ve asked our friends at Wirth Research to look at the areas we need to further develop and put together a plan for what that involves,” Eriksen told Sportscar365. “That’s due by the middle of next month.
“At that point, we’ll have a look at that and understand the scope of what kind of things we need to do and that will then dictate the timing for the follow-on things like additional wind tunnel tests and track tests and that sort of thing.”
While the ESM-run ARX-04bs proved to be fast in its debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with some of the quickest trap speeds, Eriksen said the focus of car’s development will be on its medium downforce aero package, which is utilized for all races outside of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Weight had also been an issue at Daytona, although there’s already been a considerable improvement since then and Eriksen is confident of the car meeting the 900kg minimum weight mandated in the FIA WEC.
“The reliability has been fantastic,” he said. “We ran the Daytona race without any chassis reliability issues, which was great. It’s a very sorted out package from a reliability package, so we’re just focusing on that one last area before we freeze it [for final homologation].”
Eriksen said they are now evaluating options for the ARX-04b’s return to the track, with a series of meetings with teams this weekend at Sebring to determine which direction to move forward with in the coming weeks.
“Everybody’s come out of the woodwork,” he said. “They sense there’s an opportunity there. We’ve got some very good [team] options.
“ESM themselves is an option, when they have gaps in their schedule. We have other teams like Andretti [Autoport] that’s had sports car experience with us previously and has quite a bit of resources.
“There are other existing teams that have talked to us. Luckily we have a lot of options, it’s just nailing down which one is going to be for what we need to do.”
Eriksen said he expects the car’s initial re-entry to be focused on a single-car program with the to-be-determined partner team.
However, with two turn-key cars available, along with a parts for a third chassis to be quickly assembled, HPD would also be able to support customers interested in a partial-season TUDOR Championship program this year.
“There’s possibilities within the season that look potentially promising,” Eriksen said. “It really depends on what comes back on the scope of what we need to do. That will dictate how quickly we can have it back on track.”