Photo Credit: Rick DoleLe Mans LE MANS, FRANCE, Sunday, June 13, 2010: Highcroft Racing completed its goal of finishing the toughest endurance sportscar race in the world today at the 24 Hours of Le Mans - but the reigning American Le Mans Series LMP1 champions discovered why the classic event is the ultimate test of man and machine.

Marino Franchitti completed two laps at the end of the 24 event, completing a stint which actually began six hours earlier after David Brabham handed over the reigns shortly after 9.00am.

The Highcroft Racing Honda Performance Development factory-backed ARX-01c had performed strongly through the night, sitting solidly in second place in the LMP2 class.

As Marino was starting to make serious in-roads into the lead enjoyed by European-based HPD rivals Strakka Racing, the team were forced to bring the Malaria No More car into the pits to investigate a cooling issue.

The Highcroft and HPD engineers actually completed five extended stops trying to solve the issue before being forced to give up on their LMP2 podium dream.

Le Mans Franchitti stepped out the car for 2 1/2 hours while the team worked on ensuring the car could complete the final laps and be classified as a finisher.

Franchitti, Brabham and Marco Werner had all performed faultlessly throughout the night, the team actually taking the class lead during the pit stop rotations.

The team had qualified second in class on Thursday night and set chase after the Strakka HPD machine with Brabham, Franchitti and Werner taking turns at the wheel.

Three unscheduled pit stops to replace punctured tires hindered the team’s assault on the class lead - one suffered by Franchitti forcing the Scotsman to complete almost an entire lap of the circuit on a flag tire.

Highcroft was eventually classified in 25th place in its Le Mans debut. Strakka took the class victory with Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis behind the wheel. Oak Racing’s Pescarolo Judd finished 2nd in LMP2 while another HPD engine - this one mounted to a Lola Coupe entered by RML finished third.

While the team may not have achieved victory today, the entire Le Mans event proved to be a major success for Malaria No More. The Highcroft HPD entry featured major signage for Malaria No More and Radio Le Mans also adopted the cause as the official charity of the English-language commentary channel.

A highlight of the special auction is a banner signed by the Highcroft drivers plus a host of others including multiple Le Mans winners Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello, Peugeot stars Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Nicolas Minassian and ex-Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell. 

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