BIG HITS FOR TEQUILA PATRON SQUADS AT MID OHIO David Brabham LEXINGTON, OH, Saturday, August 8, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing dragged its damaged Acura ARX-02a to the LMP1 podium at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course today - the team on the...
BIG HITS FOR TEQUILA PATRON SQUADS AT MID OHIO
David Brabham LEXINGTON, OH, Saturday, August 8, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing dragged its damaged Acura ARX-02a to the LMP1 podium at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course today - the team on the receiving end of one of two big hits for Tequila Patron.
After starting second, Scott Sharp fought de Ferran Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud through the Mid-Ohio traffic - the gap stretching back and forth between three and seven seconds in the first stint.
However, seven laps before the team's first pit stop, traffic rained on the team's parade with contact between the #9 Acura the the #44 GT2 class Porsche.
The impact badly damaged the important aerodynamic underbody - ripping out part of the floor. With the underside of the modern prototype sportscars generating a significant amount of the car's downforce, Sharp battled a wildly oversteering car before handing over to David Brabham.
Those wild seven laps pushed the gap to the race leader out to 23 seconds.
Brabham fought hard in his opening stint but could not bridge the gap. Patron Highcroft Racing implemented changes on the second stop to minimize the oversteer. These changes, coupled with a full course yellow allowed Brabham to close the gap to Gil de Ferran.
However, the Acura remained far from perfect and the Australian was forced to hang on for second place.
While the Tequila Patron prototype squad made it onto the podium, the ALMS Challenge class Porsche GT3 of Ed Brown and Bill Sweedler were not as fortunate.
Brown's GT3 rival Melanie Snow made contact with a prototype car, forcing Snow's machine to hit the rear of Brown's Porsche. The resulting first corner spin and impact with the barrier put him out of the race, forced a long safety car period and sent Brown to the track medical center. Despite suffering neck soreness, the Tequila Patron CEO was able to later return to the track.
After six rounds of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, Patron Highcroft Racing leads the LMP1 championship by nine points.
The team will now set its sights on returning to victory lane next week at Elkhart Lake's Road America - a venue where the team tasted LMP2 class victory in 2009.
Today's result also took more steps in the race to end malaria. Today's 266.44 race miles took the series total to 2294.44 - raising $38,477.82 to combat malaria deaths in Africa through the purchase of mosquito nets.
"We feel we let this one slip a little bit. I had a really good stint and was keeping Simon in my sights.
"I was working my way through traffic well and I was tucked up behind a Corvette when the #44 Porsche turned in on me.
"I was very surprised that it did that level of damage and that made for a tough afternoon for Brabs.
"Was hoping it was a bit of a flush hit but it obviously just hit the right spot to do that damage.
"The underside of these cars are very important for the aero performance and the damage made the car incredibly loose.
"I was hoping with fresh tires that it would be OK, but it obviously wasn't.
"We were conserving fuel well and we were in pretty good shape - it was pretty unfortunate."
"Today was not the result we were hoping for. The damage at the end of Scott's run made the car nearly undriveable in my first stint.
"We made some tire pressure adjustments for the second stint, but there was nothing I could do about it.
"I had to drive as fast as I could but I just didn't have the car underneath me. I've never had the car so bad - I was complaining over the radio because I couldn't stop, couldn't turn and the rear was all over the place.
"We have to regroup and set our sights on Road America. It was a great result for Gil's team after announcing his retirement and the fire they had here last year with Jonesy but it was a shame we had the damage it might have been a different story.
"It would have been better for the fans, but there was nothing I could do about it."