PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING WINS OVERALL AT NORTHEAST GRAND PRIX Team Also Scores First Overall Win for Acura Patron Highcroft Racing's wild chase through Lime Rock's winding road course ended in the sweetest victory the team has ever tasted.
PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING WINS OVERALL AT NORTHEAST GRAND PRIX
Team Also Scores First Overall Win for Acura
Patron Highcroft Racing's wild chase through Lime Rock's winding road course ended in the sweetest victory the team has ever tasted. David Brabham, who has fast become the American Le Mans Series' leading expert in late-race heroics, made a spectacular pass of Timo Bernhard in the #7 Penske Porsche in the last two minutes of the Northeast Grand Prix, bringing the team, and Acura, their first overall ALMS win. The team, which started this afternoon's race on pole, took its first American Le Mans Series LMP2 class victory at the Tequila Patron Long Beach Grand Prix this past April.
Milestones aside, the victory was additionally sweet for the Patron Highcroft team because it is headquartered in nearby Danbury, Connecticut, just over an hour from the Lime Rock track. Connecticut native Scott Sharp shared driving duties with Brabham en route to the Patron Highcroft team's historic triumph.
"To get this overall win is just an amazing feeling," said an elated Brabham afterward. "It was a non-stop battle out there the whole race. With the sand [surrounding the course] it was very easy to go wide, which I did once. Loads of cars were going off. I am just massively relieved we won! And what an amazing finish - it was really a wild chase the whole way. With traffic the way it was, I was fighting for a clear lap. Although I never touched anyone or had any close calls, I knew if I had stuck my nose in close quarters, we would have been hit. It was a high-wire waiting game for the right opportunity, which I knew would come. When I came around Turn One on the second-to-last lap, and saw that the Penske had balked, I knew I could go for it. The Acura was so 'dialed in' - it was flying- so I knew I could do it. The Acura really stuck to the ground when I was passing the Porsche; I knew I was quicker and had to go for it. The Acura ARX-01b hiccupped slightly because I was low on fuel, but we coasted down the last hill and took the checker. I can say one thing for sure - there is going to be a big celebration at Patron Highcroft Racing tonight."
"My stint was definitely action packed!" said Sharp, who started the race from the pole position. "When I first got out there, we were concerned that we might be a little loose [experiencing oversteer] because we were in this morning's practice. We were trying to hang out until the tires warmed up. On the first lap, one of the Porsches almost put me in the grass and I didn't want to get in the marbles and block him, so he got underneath me. I lost momentum and got passed by a couple more cars, and was pretty ticked off. Then I was really surprised, five laps later, when I was running tight with Simon Pagenaud [in the #66 De Ferran Racing Acura] on a chicane turn. I was about to pick up the throttle and 'boom,' he hit me from behind and I spun. That was way too early in the race for that to happen. Nevertheless, I kept pushing as hard as I could in traffic, and got into a good rhythm, and ended up being able to turn some good laps. The guys put together a great race strategy, and fixed the rear deck after the Pagenaud incident, so David got into a car that was in great shape."
Team owner Duncan Dayton could not say enough about the team that made this long-held dream come true. "To come back from the adversity of getting punted from behind, pit and change the floor the way the crew did - these guys did an incredible job of getting us back out there. Wirth Research [chassis consultant] has this new quick-change rear [assembly]. With that, we were able to get right back out there. Because the lap times are so quick here, you'd usually be down a lap or two in a situation like ours, but with the new quick-change rear that Wirth brought to the race, it made the fix incredibly easy. And with David driving the Acura the way he did at the end, he just pulled out an amazing finish for us. Scott also did a really great job. When you lose a piece that affects the aerodynamics, it makes the car pretty tough to drive, but Scott drove it home really well. Hats off to the guys on the crew. They just did an absolutely top-notch job. To achieve this kind of success, in our own back yard, when we all have our families, friends and sponsors here, is incredibly meaningful to us."
"Wow, you couldn't have written a better story for our group at Acura and HPD (Honda Performance Development)." Said Erik Berman, President of HPD. "It was a wild weekend with the front row of the grid all Acura. We looked out of the running in the middle of the race. The Patron Highcroft team did some heroic work in the pits to stay on the lead lap. It was an amazing race. I followed Robert Clarke in this position and Robert did a massive amount of work to help make this win possible. I am proud of all of the Acura teams and I am sure he is, too. Winning overall is new milestone for this young Acura program. But we have to continue to work hard and keep pushing. I want to congratulate Duncan [Dayton] and the whole Patron Highcroft Racing organization for a superb effort in this Lime Rock victory."