A month after completing an extremely successful shakedown test of its No. 15 Lowe's Acura-powered Lola, Lowe's Fernandez Racing today announced the finishing touches to its 2007 American Le Mans Series campaign.
On-site for the ninth annual running of the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda CX-7 at Road Atlanta, owner/driver Adrian Fernandez today confirmed that he will be joined behind the wheel of the team's LMP2 prototype by sports car driving talent and 2006 championship winner Luis Diaz in Lowe's Fernandez Racing's inaugural season of Series competition.
"I am thrilled to announce today that Luis and I will be teammates in the American Le Mans Series next season," Fernandez said. "We tried to put a program together a few years ago where Luis and I would compete together, so this has always been in the back of our minds. With the great partners we have in Lowe's and Acura, adding Luis completes the extremely strong package we now have in place to enter our first season of American Le Mans Series competition. Luis is a good friend and I have a lot of respect for his talent and passion in racing. I am really excited for next season."
Diaz, 28, of Mexico City, Mexico, was a former open-wheel rising star before an opportunity in 2004 led him into the sports car ranks. He has spent the past three seasons driving for Chip Ganassi Racing and, alongside co-driver Scott Pruett.
"It is such an honor for me to be able to say that I am Adrian's teammate," said Diaz. "This really is something that I have dreamed about ever since I started watching him race. Adrian opened the doors for drivers to compete outside of Mexico, and has been a role model for all of us on the race track and off. The opportunity to join him and two great companies in Lowe's and Acura was, for me, a once in a lifetime chance."
In addition to announcing its 2007 driver lineup, Lowe's Fernandez Racing also officially unveiled the No. 15 Lowe's Acura Lola which will make its competition debut at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March following a heavy offseason testing program.
"This is an exciting day for everyone at Lowe's in addition to being an integral part of our sports marketing initiatives," said Bob Gfeller, senior vice president of marketing and advertising at Lowe's. "Adrian is a great spokesman for our company, and we are very pleased to welcome Luis to Team Lowe's Racing. This is a combination that we feel will excite both our employees and our customers. The new No. 15 Lowe's Acura Lola looks incredible, and we are very much looking forward to seeing it turn its first official laps next season."
Lowe's Fernandez Racing announced that it would enter American Le Mans Series competition as one of three Acura-powered LMP2 prototype teams in July of this year. In late August, Fernandez completed more than 200 problem-free laps in a maiden outing of the team's Acura Lola package which marked the first time an engine completely designed and developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD) of Santa Clarita, Calif., had run on a race track.
"We are happy to welcome Luis to the Acura family," said Robert Clarke, President of HPD. "We first met Luis when he substituted for Adrian in the 2002 Mexico City race and later did some test driving for Fernandez Racing. His obvious talents in sports car competition the past few years alongside those of Adrian's will be a valuable asset for not only our winter testing program but a strong effort next season.
"Adrian and Tom (Anderson, team owner and managing director) have played an integral role in our racing programs over the last decade," Clarke added. "We look forward to continuing to build on this relationship as we enter this new and exciting chapter in our motorsports history."
Fernandez and Diaz will put their new partnership into play next week as they prepare for a two-day test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"The next few months are going to be pretty busy as we get ready for Sebring, but we have a great advantage in starting our testing program early thanks to everyone at Acura, Lola, Michelin and obviously Lowe's," added Anderson. "This program has come together quickly and that's a testament to the great partners we have. We're looking forward to this new challenge, and bringing Luis on board is the final brick in a strong foundation for '07."
Fernandez, recently named one of the 300 most influential people in his homeland of Mexico by a national magazine, feels the team's new program will excite fans.
"In a way, we're Team Mexico now with the addition of Luis," said Fernandez. "I think our fans are going to love the look and sound of the car and, hopefully, we will give them a lot to cheer about next year."
For more information, please visit www.fernandezracing.net