While Patrón Highcroft Racing has added the talented driving duo of Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti alongside championship winner David Brabham for 2010, the team has also strengthened its engineering department in an effort to defend its American Le Mans Series crown.
The team will again work closely with Honda Performance Development on engine development and Wirth Research on enhancements for the ARX-01c chassis, but Patrón Highcroft Racing’s own in-house talent pool has been boosted by the recruitment of Will Phillips as Engineering Director.
“Engineering is the foundation that all racing teams really build from and we are fortunate at Patrón Highcroft Racing to have some incredibly gifted personnel,” Dayton said.
“They control how the car is set up, how the car is developed over time and without their hard work and dedication we would not be as successful as we are.
“We are also very lucky to have some great technical partners in having Honda Performance Development on the engine side and Wirth Research handling the chassis development – they interface extremely well with the rest of the team through our team manager Robin Hill.”
“The three groups – Highcroft, HPD and Wirth – have formed a really dynamic team. Each is responsible for their different areas of expertise but they all work seamlessly together in bouncing ideas around and suggesting ideas to improve the performance.
“This has really pushed the development of the car forward. I would put our guys up against anybody out there – I think our engineering department is really second-to-none.
“We have everything from design capabilities to race engineers, electronics, shocks, vehicle dynamics – every component and area of the car is covered. I feel very fortunate to have all the guys we have in our engineering department.”
Phillips joins the team from de Ferran Motorsports for 2010, reuniting him with his former de Ferran driver Simon Pagenaud at the 2009 ALMS championship squad.
The experienced chassis expert will work alongside Highcroft’s renowned Technical Director – ex-Formula 1 and Indycar man, Dave Luckett.
“Will Phillips brings a great capability and knowledge to the team as our new Engineering Director of how to build a complete chassis from scratch – that is something we haven’t had until now,” Dayton said.
“We have relied upon Wirth Research to handle all our chassis requirements in the past and will continue to do so in the future – but to have someone of Will’s capabilities to interface and work in conjunction with the Wirth group will be very beneficial.
“He is a very accomplished engineer and has overseen all aspects of racing and race teams from an engineering standpoint.
“Will brings certain sets of skills that very much compliment our Technical Director Dave Luckett.
“Dave is responsible for all the components that go on the car, the lifeing systems, how everything is developed in regards to reliability and safety. He has more than 35 years experience in Formula 1, IndyCar and now sportscars and I believe technically he is one of the most accomplished individuals in the American Le Mans Series paddock.
“From a parts perspective, he knows in advance what potential faults could arise and when something does fail, he is able to determine how and why that happened and find the solution to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“Dave and Will really do have complimentary skill sets.”
Patrón Highcroft Racing’s engineering division has been growing steadily since the team’s American Le Mans Series debut in 2006 – bringing new talent to Connecticut as well as developing home grown skills.
“Jordan Eber has been our lead engineer for quite some time now. He really is a very smart guy we recruited from HPD and he’s done a brilliant job in guiding the whole engineering team. Jordan has managed to pull off some amazing feats in the past – seemingly making fuel out of thin air when we were battling against the Penske Porsches in 2008 at Mosport.
“His role this season will include some special projects with some technical partners that we are really excited about which could play a big role in our future performance.”
“Our race engineer Ben Bretzman joined us last year from AGR and does a great job interacting with our drivers to determine what they like and dislike with the car and how to make it quicker.
“He has a lot of experience from an open wheel background that has really transferred well into the sportscar environment.
That engineering capability formed a key platform for the team which has been the top performing factory Acura squad over the past three years.
As the team looks at future expansion, Dayton believes some of his local engineering talent have a great opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced men in the American Le Mans Series paddock.
“When Jamie Albert first joined us he was a general electrician looking after houses and buildings,” Dayton said.
“He was actually working on our building and saw the team and realized that this was what he wanted to do – he’s now gone on to develop those skills and become one of the best electronics guys in the paddock.
“It is incredible what he is able to do to build electronic connectors from scratch and make sure that the car is always in top condition from an electronics standpoint.
“Andrew Smith joined us straight out of college. He didn’t have any racing experience at all, but he is incredibly smart and talented.
“We have him working on lifeing and now simulation work and it is great to have young guys come from the local area and get the chance to work on a championship-winning race team.
“These young guys are now getting the chance to learn from our senior engineering staff and take advantage of an amazing pool of knowledge and experience.”