Brabham Battles Puncture For Second On Highcroft Home Soil London, UK -- Saturday, July 24, 2010; David Brabham retains his American Le Mans Series LMP class championship lead after a puncture approaching the final 10 minutes of round five...
Brabham Battles Puncture For Second On Highcroft Home Soil
London, UK -- Saturday, July 24, 2010; David Brabham retains his American Le Mans Series LMP class championship lead after a puncture approaching the final 10 minutes of round five racing action ruined his race-winning chances at Lime Rock Park.
Regardless, Brabham secured yet another podium finish and second overall for Patrón Highcroft Racing at the team's home track near Lakeville, Connecticut. The result also recorded Brabham's 56th top three Series finish to hold a seven point advantage over Klaus Graf in the LMP title fight moving into the final half of the season.
Brabham's blinding performance in qualifying yesterday secured pole position in style for the team's home race, but the Highcroft car's straight-line speed disadvantage was once again evident when teammate Simon Pagenaud slipped back to fourth at the race start.
Thirty minutes and two full course cautions later, Pagenaud was back at the front where he remained until the end of his strong session.
With Klaus Graf inheriting the lead as the Highcroft car pit, Brabham joined the battle with just over an hour remaining in second and quickly got to grips with the blistering hot conditions that couldn't have been more of a contrast to the heavy rain of the previous day.
Trailing the leading Porsche by over 25 seconds with 43 minutes to go, Brabham was careful to bide his time before mounting his charge against a car some 25-kilos lighter and with more downforce than his HPD ARX-01C machine.
Timing his challenge to perfection approaching the final 30 minutes, Brabham sliced into Graf's advantage by setting the fastest lap of the race in a time of 50.056 seconds on lap 135.
Continuing his charge at a relentless pace, the reigning champion clocked up consistent times in the 50-second margin to destroy the deficit to just 2.2 seconds with 15 minutes remaining.
Consistently the quicker car, mere tenths of a second separated the leading pair before Brabham made his move off the final turn on lap 157. Despite pulling alongside, Brabham was pushed wide and on to the grass heading down the main straight.
A slow right rear puncture that had been developing subsequently deflated the following lap, causing bodywork damage and forcing Brabham to limp back to the pits. Although Graf served a stop-go penalty for blocking, the Porsche rejoined the fray 30 seconds ahead.
With just eight minutes left on the clock, Brabham settled for a solid second place and another healthy haul of championship points.
"At this stage of the season it's vitally important to keep putting points on the board and that's what we've done today," said Brabham. "I knew I had developed a puncture when I was chasing down Klaus. Whatever was in the tyre was dislodged when I was pushed on to the grass and the tyre went down the following lap."
"I could see Klaus was going to get held up so I backed off, got a good run and went to go up the inside. I was alongside when he moved right and I was pushed wide with almost all four wheels off the track. I kept my foot in but it's been pretty wet around here in recent days so I couldn't get enough speed to pass him.
"The traffic was heavy and in fairness to Klaus I don't think he realised I was so close, but it was good racing. The Cytosport Porsche crew did a great job on strategy today and closed the championship gap a little.
"Simon did a great opening stint. The car was a bit difficult to begin with. As more rubber went down on the track the car got better and better and I was able to drive each lap like I was qualifying to close on the leader.
"We knew it would be tough to beat the Porsche here, as they are lighter than us and have more downforce, so I'm pleased we were able to attack. We put on a great show for all of our Patrón and GE guests who were all kept on the edge of their seats.
"It should be a really exciting end to the season. Next race up is Mid Ohio which is a circuit that will again suit the Porsche. But we are gathering more information about how our car works with the new aero kit all the time, so I'm really looking forward to continuing the championship battle there."