Patron Highcroft Racing Team and Drivers Receive Prestigious ALMS Awards
Patron Highcroft Racing underlined its winning pedigree with the team and both of its drivers, Scott Sharp and David Brabham, capturing prestigious awards at the American Le Mans Series Awards Banquet in Monterey, California, on Sunday, October 19. The sweep of awards is a fitting conclusion to Patron Highcroft's last season in the LMP2 category before it moves to LMP1 with Acura for 2009.
Patron Highcroft has proven itself to be one of the leading ALMS teams this season. Capturing second in the Team and Driver championships was the reward, offering team principal Duncan Dayton, Sharp and Brabham, the opportunity to collect the appropriate hardware at the banquet. Patron Highcroft's Joel Svensson was also brought on to the stage when he was named Mechanic of the Year for the LMP2 category.
Duncan Dayton commented: "We had a fantastic season by all accounts. Four race victories (one overall), three pole positions, three second places, first place in the IMSA Cup, second in the Drivers Championship, second in the Team Championship, second in the Manufacturer's Championship -- all really quite incredible when you think about it. Yet I think we are all a little disappointed that we didn't win the Championships. They were in our grasp and they slipped away. It will only motivate us to work even harder next year to make sure that we finish the job in 2009."
As the best performing and highest point-scoring newcomer in a blistering first season with the Patron Highcroft team, Sharp was presented with the Rookie of the Year award. "What a fantastic inaugural season for Scott in the ALMS. After a long career in IndyCars, he transitioned to the ALMS with great results," Dayton continued. "Winning four races and finishing second three times was a huge accomplishment. His opening stint in Detroit will go down as his best drive of the year. He is a most deserving recipient of the Rookie of the Year award."
Sharp commented: "It was a great night to celebrate the 2008 efforts of the entire Patron Highcroft Team, with so many awards and so much recognition given. Winning the 2008 Rookie of the Year award and netting second place in both the Driver and Team Championships showed the effort that was put forth on everyone's behalf. From the support of Patron Tequila and the intense work by Acura all year long, Duncan's leadership, and the efforts of each team member, everything has helped Patron Highcroft Racing to excel this season. I have to add a special thanks to my teammate, Brabs, who was nothing short of spectacular in his performance and his efforts in helping me. I'm very proud to be a part of this team and I can't wait for what we have in store for the 2009 season."
Brabham was confirmed as the fans favorite ALMS driver worldwide when he was presented with both the ALMS and Motors TV Most Popular Driver awards. Corvette Racing's Ron Fellows had won the award for the last four years but Brabham broke his stronghold and won the accolade after the series conducted a six-week online voting campaign for fans at www.americanlemans.com .
The British-born Australian made series history at Long Beach this year with an awesome move to pass Penske's Romain Dumas with three minutes to go to take the LMP2 win and secure victory in his fourth different ALMS class. The Patron Highcroft duo also captured a historic outright pole position and first overall win for the team and Acura at Lime Rock.
"What can one say about Brabs, other than he is the class of the field," said Duncan. "He routinely provided heroics all year. From three pole positions to multiple late race passes for wins, he thrilled the fans all season long. He is the consummate professional and a wonderful gentleman as well. No wonder fans on both sides of the Atlantic voted him their favorite driver."
Brabham commented: "The American Le Mans Series is fiercely competitive with so many great drivers that it is a privilege to have won these awards. I'd like to thank everyone who voted for me. It's been an incredible season for me personally, not only with the level of success I've enjoyed in the American Le Mans Series but also winning the Le Mans 24 Hour GT1 class for the second consecutive year. It's been great to celebrate the success of the Patron Highcroft team, not just for me but for all the guys, especially with Scott's Top Rookie Award. There was a huge amount of respect for the team in the room tonight and that was really special. Duncan has put together a great crew and it's awesome to be a part of it. I am looking forward to a long and successful future together and to achieving some amazing things in 2009."
Dayton is also incredibly proud of Joel Svensson. "Joel's selection as Mechanic of the Year was immensely popular within the team. He distinguished himself all year by his tireless commitment to excellence and his dedication to the team and his job. He never lost his sense of humor and good cheer despite long hours and a relentless schedule. The banquet was great fun and a way for the guys to be acknowledged for all they have accomplished this year. Winning so many of the awards was very gratifying. The individual awards are wonderful, but they are really symbolic of what Patron Highcroft Racing achieved together as a team."
With the entire team receiving deserved recognition for its 2008 achievements, Patron Highcroft Racing is ready for the challenge of LMP1 next year.