Brabham Back On Top With Victorious Battle At Long Beach London, UK -- Sunday, April 18, 2010; David Brabham, defending American Le Mans Series champion, returned to the top of the 2010 points table after an epic battle on the streets of Long...
Brabham Back On Top With Victorious Battle At Long Beach
London, UK -- Sunday, April 18, 2010; David Brabham, defending American Le Mans Series champion, returned to the top of the 2010 points table after an epic battle on the streets of Long Beach, California, delivered Highcroft Racing's first outright win at the historic street circuit and the honours for the inaugural outing of the newly combined LMP class.
Victory at the hands of Brabham (Henley-on-Thames, UK) and his new 2010 teammate Simon Pagenaud was certainly hard earned, with the Highcroft crew bouncing back from fifth place and a stop-go penalty.
Pagenaud won by just 0.353 seconds from Aston Martin Racing's Adrian Fernandez after a last lap move reminiscent of Brabham's stellar 2008 drive at the same track, when he took the Penske Porsche Spyder in the closing minutes for Highcroft's first ever and LMP2 class win.
Two years on and Braham switched to opening race honours and was lying third after a solid start when the first full course yellow occurred just five minutes into racing. A two further safety car periods would interrupt his session.
When racing was underway, Brabham regularly topped the timesheets to chase down second placed Harold Primat and lap consistently within 0.5 seconds of the Aston Martin. Brabham's efforts to take Primat on lap 23 unfortunately resulted in contact.
Despite closing two seconds on the leading Lola of John Field in less than a lap once clear, the Highcroft car was called in to serve a stop-go penalty.
Rejoining the fray in fifth, Brabham set about a blistering recovery drive. Setting lap times some two or three seconds quicker than the rest of the field, the sportscar legend made handy work of the Long Beach traffic to regain second position en route to his 20th ALMS victory.
With 50 minutes of racing remaining, Brabham had timed his recovery to perfection as the third full course yellow was called just moments later, presenting an ideal pit stop opportunity.
A swift handover to Pagenaud and lightening pit work from the Highcroft crew ensured the Honda Performance Development factory-backed ARX-01c was the first out of pit lane, leapfrogging the lead Lola in the process.
With a clear green flag run to the chequered flag, Pagenaud fought off the now second-placed Fernandez until the Aston Martin snatched the lead with just six minutes remaining.
Pagenaud kept the pressure piled-on throughout the closing laps and when Fernandez ran wide going through Turn 5 for the final time, the Frenchman was positioned to make a last lap pass and ensure a return to winning ways for Highcroft Racing.
"It's great to be back on the top step of the podium after a fantastic team effort from everyone at Highcroft Racing," said Brabham.
"I had a reasonable start and I was chasing down the Aston Martin. I got really close for quite a few laps and I went to go down the inside but we unfortunately tagged and the Aston spun. As a result we got the penalty.
"We put that behind us and made a great recovery with some good passes to get back up to second. An awesome pit stop from the Highcroft crew got Simon back out in the front, which was critical.
"Simon did a great job of reclaiming the lead when Adrian [Fernandez] ran wide at Turn 5. Simon's last lap pass was a bit like watching history repeat itself, from my race here two years ago. It certainly feels good to win again at Long Beach.
"We don't get much practice time here, so it's hard to find a good set-up. I went out in the first session and the car wasn't good as we were struggling with our brakes locking up. My next session was the start of the race, so I had a steep learning curve.
"A lot of adjustments were made between the second practice and qualifying. The car was strong today and we were able to really push in the race. I experienced a gear selection problem during my stint, but thankfully that resolved itself for Simon's drive.
"We felt like we let one slip at Sebring, so to come here and bounce back stronger is really satisfying. Everyone is on top form and we're looking strong for Laguna Seca -- that's if I can actually fly home to the UK at some point!"
The ALMS title battle will resume with round three at Laguna Seca Raceway on May 22.