Laguna Seca: Highcroft Racing race report

PATRON HIGHCROFT TAKE ALMS LMP1 CHAMPIONSHIP CROWN MONTEREY, CA, Saturday, October 10, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing have been crowned as the new kings of the American Le Mans Series after Scott Sharp and David Brabham scored a second place...

PATRON HIGHCROFT TAKE ALMS LMP1 CHAMPIONSHIP CROWN

MONTEREY, CA, Saturday, October 10, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing have been crowned as the new kings of the American Le Mans Series after Scott Sharp and David Brabham scored a second place finish today aboard their Acura ARX-02a to claim the driver's, team's and manufacturer's title.

David Brabham started second aboard the Patron Highcroft Racing machine and despite being passed at one stage by the Lola of John Field, Brabham held second place during the opening stint.

However, shortly after the first pit stop on lap 35, the Australian was tagged by the Corvette of Oliver Gavin who slid down the inside of turn one, clipped the Acura and collected a number of GT cars.

Brabham was forced to make an unscheduled stop to remove a damaged piece of bodywork on lap 43 and had to make another stop on lap 55 to fix an electrical issue.

The two unscheduled stops pushed the Patron Highcroft squad down two laps but Brabham began a fightback, moving from sixth overall back into podium contention and second place in the LMP1 class by lap 87.

Scott Sharp climbed aboard the car on lap 104 and continued the team's solid run through to the checkered flag - finishing third overall and second in the LMP1 class.

While the race was won by championship rivals de Ferran Motorpsort, the second place today was enough to give Patron Highcroft Racing the 2009 championship by 17 points.

Despite the fact David Brabham has won and scored pole positions in every class of the American Le Mans Series, today's title win was his first in the ALMS.

Scott Sharp became only the second American driver to score the overall LMP1 driver's championship and the first since the inaugural season of the championship in 1999.

The title win was the first for Patron Highcroft Racing after the Danbury, CT-based squad scored second in the team's championship in the LMP2 class last season.

The event completed a brilliant season for Acura - the manufacturer scoring a 1-2-3 finish overall and clinching both the LMP1 and LMP2 manufacturer's titles. This is the first time a manufacturer has scored two class championships in the same season.

Sharp, Brabham, team owner Duncan Dayton and entire Patron Highcroft Racing team will now head to the American Le Mans Series championship banquet tomorrow evening in Monterey to collect the season silverware.

In addition the outstanding championship result, Patron Highcroft Racing also completed its final mile in the Miles to End Malaria campaign for 2009. With support from Patron Highcroft Racing, Tequila Patron, American Le Mans Series founder, Dr Donald Panoz and also race fans from around the world - the fundraising effort to help end malaria deaths in Africa raised $63,133.13 for the cause.

SCOTT SHARP
"David did a great job opening. We had a few problems with the electronics early. We lost our gearshift indicator but were OK. The team did an incredible job all year. From the top with Duncan and our team manager Robin Hill, they'll do whatever it takes and no matter how long it takes.

"Taking the championship is an amazing thrill because the transition from IndyCars was a big difference for me.

"David is easily the best teammate I've ever had, and you hear from a lot of teams who have two drivers and two different styles of car. David really helped me when I first came over to make the adjustments.

"He really helps everyone on the team raise their game to a new level. The entire season has been an amazing effort from all the guys.

"They have worked incredibly hard and I am just so pleased we have been able to bring it home for them."

DAVID BRABHAM
"The goal for the team tonight was to win the championship. That was the no. 1 priority. The whole weekend was about that. Congratulations to Duncan and the entire Patron Highcroft team. It's probably the best team I've been a part of in my career.

"When the Acura program was launched, it was a rejuvenation. It's been a special time in my life. I felt like I've improved a lot of a driver.

"When I look back my time in GT2 cars, I learned to read the traffic so well. That's helped me in my P2 and P1 situations as well.

"It has been an honor to race with this team and I am thrilled for all the guys.

"Racing against Gil de Ferran has been a big challenge. He is a great friend and a great competitor. We all wish him the best in his retirement - we'll miss him out there."

DUNCAN DAYTON
"When Robert Clarke first selected Highcroft to join the Acura camp, everyone was thinking, 'Who are these guys and what are they doing here? They're just vintage guys.'

"And that motivated us every single year. We've been the best Acura team each and every year. We are the most dedicated, and were it not for the passion we all have, we wouldn't be here.

"Beating the de Ferran boys this season was a monumental task. The guys at de Ferran are friends and teammates because we are all working for Acura. The sportsmanship they exhibit and the respect we all have is phenomenal. It's really pushed the development of the cars and the teams. We wouldn't be here without their great help. The guys from Wirth Research also deserve a lot of credit for designing such a great car.

"I am just so proud of my guys. Everyone has worked incredibly hard and the championship is the just the start of more great things for this team."

-credit: hr

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