Laguna Seca: Highcroft Racing qualifying report

Patron Highcroft Racing Captures Pole Position at Laguna Seca Patron Highcroft Racing captured its third overall pole position of 2008 for the final American Le Mans Series round of the season - the Monterey Sports Car Championships,...

Patron Highcroft Racing Captures Pole Position at Laguna Seca

Patron Highcroft Racing captured its third overall pole position of 2008 for the final American Le Mans Series round of the season - the Monterey Sports Car Championships, presented by Patron. The Acura ARX-01b's blistering pole position time of 1:10.103 set a new ALMS lap record at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during Patron Highcroft Racing's final qualifying session in the LMP2 category, as the team moves to LMP1 with Acura for 2009.

The Danbury, CT, based team bounced back from a challenging round at Petit Le Mans earlier this month where the team and drivers, Scott Sharp and David Brabham, saw a premature end to their championship dreams. Patron Highcroft Racing's immediate return to the front of the grid underline's the team's sensational performance in LMP2 this season and sets the stage for the multi race-winning Sharp-Brabham partnership to sign off their class campaign in style.

Thanks to the extraordinary work of the Patron Highcroft crew to establish a strong set up for the Acura and solid practice performances from Sharp, Brabham was well equipped to set the fastest overall qualifying time on his fifth lap, capturing pole position from Luis Diaz by 0.099 seconds.

Duncan Dayton, Patron Highcroft Racing team principal, commented: "One of the keys to qualifying here at Laguna Seca is finding the proper space to get a hot lap. We held David in the pits and looked for the right position on the track and then let him go out. You need to build up your momentum on a track like this one and he was able to get the Michelins just right. He then gave us a pole run after the crew did another fantastic job of setting up the car. He is a tremendous competitor behind the wheel and, at the age of 43, he continues to amaze us with his performances."

Scott Sharp commented: "We started out on Thursday with not the best set up on the Patron Highcroft Acura, but the team worked very hard overnight and the chassis seemed much better this morning. Ironically, I haven't raced here very much. Maybe twice in my whole career, so I had to learn the corners during the last two days. David was amazing with such a superb effort in qualifying. Putting it on the pole again in this level of competition is a fantastic feat. Now, for Saturday's race, we'll have to be patient and pick our spots in traffic. If I can give David a good car at the halfway point, we can win this thing."

Delighted with pole position, David Brabham said: "We had a good strategy for qualifying. We waited for the proper spacing on the track and then we got into a good rhythm. I was able to get the right place on the track and the lap time came to me. This has been such a great year with Patron Highcroft Racing. I can't think of a better place to be than with this team competing in the American Le Mans Series, which is one of the best series in the world. So, today's qualifying was very satisfying. Taking the pole at Laguna Seca is a thrill but now we will focus all our efforts on the final race of the season tomorrow."

Although the team and driver championship fights have concluded, there's everything to play for in the battle for the LMP2 manufacturer spoils. Lowe's Fernandez Racing will line up alongside the Patron Highcroft team for tomorrow's race completing an all-Acura front row at Laguna Seca, while four Acuras occupy the top five grid slots. With just eight points between Acura (188 points) and leaders Porsche (196), Patron Highcroft Racing will be pulling out the stops to help Acura clinch the manufacturer title in tomorrow's four-hour season finale.

-credit: hr

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