Erik Berkman Q & A On The Acura Sports Car Program
What are your feelings after this announcement of Acura going to LMP1?
We are satisfied that we could catch up in P2. We think we will be ready for P1.
Why are you going to LMP1? Is it the wish to fight in the biggest class?
We simply want to compete at the top tier. The ACO [worldwide sports-car sanctioning organization] wants manufacturers to participate in P1.
We've seen LMP2 cars frequently beating LMP1 entries during the two last years. Was that a concern when you made your decision?
All competing classes are being slowed, and the American Le Mans Series values close competition between P1 & P2.
Did Acura's 2007 introduction to ALMS allow you to come back even stronger in 2008?
It sure did give us motivation to bear down and focus.
What has changed since last year?
Many things... engine, chassis, teams.... focus.
In your opinion, has the competition between your four teams been crucial?
It is a different approach. We want to work towards Acura teams helping each other to go faster, with more information-sharing.
What is your feeling on how Acura has performed in two years of ALMS competition? Has the fight with Porsche been a good way to prepare your LMP1 project?
P2 was a way for us to move toward a successful P1 program. We are learning every day.
How was the transition between [former Honda Performance Development president] Robert Clarke and you? Do you have the same philosophy about sports-car racing?
As an engineer, I might look at things differently, but I think we approach things in a similar way.
HPD was working on the LMP2 car with Wirth Research in England. Will you continue to work with them on the LMP1 program?
HPD is still relatively new to sports-car racing. We have an excellent relationship with Wirth Research. We are working well together, and HPD is learning from a very experienced company.
How did Acura choose Wirth Research originally?
We worked together on IndyCar projects some years ago.
The ACO unveiled its new rules in September. Has it disrupted your work on the LMP1 program?
Everybody is impacted equally by rules changes. We will react like everybody else.
Will your car be constructed to conform to 2009 rules or 2010 rules? Did you consider stopping the sports-car program because of the delay in disclosing the new rules?
We targeted 2009 some time ago, and were progressing on schedule, so we decided to announce our entry at Detroit, before the ACO rules change.
Why have you chosen Highcroft and De Ferran? And what will be their roles?
Both teams have shown their desire, potential, and commitment. We will ask each team to focus on certain developmental testing, but otherwise, we expect them to compete against each other in equal cars.