Reigning American Le Mans Series champions Highcroft Racing will use one of the biggest stages in international motorsport at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans to continue its battle against malaria.
In 2009, the team launched a partnership with Malaria No More to raise funds to combat the disease which kills a child in Africa every 45 seconds.
The 2009 season proved highly successful for Highcroft and the Miles to End Malaria campaign. The team clinched the LMP1 class championship and the campaign raised more than $63,000 to provide bed nets for families in Africa.
As a result of the team’s success, the Danbury, CT-based squad was invited to contest the biggest endurance race on the globe, the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Highcroft squad will take its Honda Performance Development factory-backed ARX-01c prototype to contest the event on June 12-13 proudly bearing the colors of Malaria No More as the primary signage on the side of the car.
Regular team drivers David Brabham and Marino Franchitti will be joined in France by three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner for the team’s 24 hour debut.
The world’s oldest sportscar race held annually since 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is regarded as one of the “big three” of international motorsport alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.
With the Highcroft team expected to be one of the favorites to capture the LMP2 class victory in France, the event will provide massive exposure for Malaria No More.
The race attracts more than 230,000 spectators – many of whom actually camp on-site for the entire race week.
Broadcast in 170 countries, last year’s race enjoyed a total cumulative television audience of 105 million. A further 8.5 million fans visited the event website.
The race is broadcast live in the US on SPEED TV.
“During the actual 24 hours of the race, nearly 3,000 children will die from malaria in Africa – that is really a frightening number especially considering a $10 bed net can protect an entire family,” Highcroft Racing, President, Duncan Dayton said.
“The team and our partners believe our debut at Le Mans provides an outstanding opportunity to really take our Miles to End Malaria campaign to the next level.
“We have tremendous support from the fans across the globe and we hope they will join us in trying to make a difference to eradicate malaria.
“We’re not talking about research to find a cure, this is not a maybe or a hope – for every $10 we raise, another family can be protected.”
Malaria No More has also received additional support from the official English commentary service for the 24 Hours of Le Mans – Radio Le Mans.
The service is broadcast to race fans on an FM radio frequency around the 8.5-mile circuit. But that audience is dwarfed by the global online listenership – more than three million fans listened to the race via http://www.radiolemans.com during last year’s race. Malaria No More will be the official charity of Radio Le Mans for 2010.
Racing fans in the US can back the Miles to End Malaria campaign by texting the word “MILES” to 85944 and a $10 donation will be added to their phone bill.
Additionally, supporters throughout the world can join the Miles to End Malaria pledging pit crew online at http://www.milestoendmalaria.org.
“Highcroft Racing’s ‘Miles to End Malaria’ program has already helped Malaria No More deliver life-saving mosquito nets to over six thousand families in Africa,” said Scott Case, CEO of Malaria No More.
“Participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans-one of the oldest and most celebrated events in racing history-means that millions of race fans will see, hear and learn about malaria for 24 hours. That’s an incredible opportunity to show how everyone can help save lives.
“We’re looking forward to watching the race and cheering on Highcroft as they make their Le Mans debut. To Malaria No More, the Highcroft team has already shown that they are champions by helping raise awareness and funds for the fight against malaria. Now we’re excited for the world to see that their commitment to the race to save lives is matched by their skills on the track.”
The Highcroft team drivers will also join forces to allow fans to purchase a unique piece of Le Mans memorabilia via Ebay.
“Marino, Marco, myself and the Highcroft team will have some great autographed items available via Ebay for the fans,” Brabham said.
“We’ll also be chasing down our friends and fellow drivers from other teams to contribute to the campaign – helmets, visors, suits, shirts, boots, car parts – we’ll take whatever we can get to allow fans to bid on some incredible souvenirs from what should be an amazing race.”
Not only does Brabham play a key role in the Miles to End Malaria campaign in the US, the UK-based Australian is also an official ambassador for Malaria No More UK.
Malaria No More UK was one of the recipient charities for the proceeds from Brabham’s annual celebrity karting event in England at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.
The Highcroft team’s HPD ARX-01c prototype will get its public debut in France at official scrutineering in downtown Le Mans on Sunday, June 6.
The car will hit the track for the first time o n Wednesday, June 9 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm (local time). Official qualifying sessions are held that night from 10:00pm to 12:00 midnight and again on Thursday, June 10 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm and 10:00pm to 12:00 midnight. The race itself goes green at 3:00pm on Saturday, June 12.