Road America: Highcroft Racing race report

PATRON HIGHCROFT BACK TO VICTORY LANE AT ROAD AMERICA ELKHART LAKE, WI, Sunday, August 16, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing bounced back into victory lane with a stunning American Le Mans Series win at Road America today. The Danbury, CT-based ...

PATRON HIGHCROFT BACK TO VICTORY LANE AT ROAD AMERICA

ELKHART LAKE, WI, Sunday, August 16, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing bounced back into victory lane with a stunning American Le Mans Series win at Road America today.

The Danbury, CT-based squad repeated its LMP2 class win from 2008 for Acura in recording its second 2009 LMP1 victory aboard the Acura ARX-02a.

The result also pushed out the team's championship lead over rivals de Ferran Motorsports to 13 points.

After qualifying second on Saturday with a margin of more than 0.8 of a second, the #9 Patron machine with Scott Sharp at the wheel trailed the #66 Acura of Simon Pagenaud off the start.

Sharp had to fight off the advances of the turbo-Lola of Jon Field, but held onto second place when the first yellow flag period fell on lap 8.

With the de Ferran car electing to pit, Patron Highcroft Racing took over the lead with Sharp staying aboard the #9 machine.

Patron Highcroft Racing On the restart, with 2 hours and 15 minutes remaining, Sharp initially opened up a lead of up to 15 seconds before traffic eroded his lead.

With one hour and 42 minutes to go, Sharp entered the pit lane just as the second yellow of the day took place. David Brabham was able to climb aboard with a full tank and new Michelin tires.

The de Ferran car also pitted under yellow and Brabham resumed in the race lead - a lead that he would never relinquish.

With Gil de Ferran now setting chase, Brabham maintained his advantage until both pitted at the next yellow flag period with 47 minutes to go.

The Patron Highcroft Racing squad repeated its left-side Michelin tires only strategy from Lime Rock - ensuring Brabham maintained his lead.

The green flag waved with 28 minutes to go. Despite a further yellow flag period, Brabham was able to maintain the lead over a final four-lap run to take victory.

With a controversial pit penalty at Long Beach and a puncture at Lime Rock snatching victory from the Patron Highcroft squad, today's win was due reward for the team which had finished second in the past four American Le Mans Series events.

Today's win also pushed the team's fundraising efforts with partner Malaria No More to $43,306.98 - the Miles to End Malaria program provides African families with mosquito nets to combat Malaria.

DAVID BRABHAM
"This win feels fantastic because the last few races haven't gone to plan. That misfortune hasn't helped us, but this was a great straight out fight.

"We had a good car, good strategy and excellent teamwork from everyone at Patron Highcroft Racing.

"The last few races have made us stronger. Everyone involved in the team has just dug deep and put in a massive effort to pull this off.

"As a driver I couldn't ask for any more commitment from the guys on the team. They really are a special bunch.

"It is an honor to drive for them. When we win races like this it brings us even closer together and now we look forward to the next one.

"In the race we had a very strong car - probably the best we had all year. The tires from Michelin also had a big impact because we were able to change left side tires only and that saved us some precious seconds in the pits. The performance and durability was brilliant again."

DUNCAN DAYTON
"It is a huge result for the guys and a great reward for their continued hard work, dedication and perseverance.

"The ball has bounced the wrong way for us a couple of times in the last few races and we never gave up.

"We always said if we stick to what we do best it will come back to us. Sometimes it gets hard to maintain your motivation when you finish one spot adrift of where you want to be.

"But the guys never gave up. They totally made this happen and were here working until 3:00am this morning.

"It is that never say die attitude that is all important. We don't go home until the last 't' has been crossed and the last 'i' dotted.

"Our strategy worked out perfectly and the drivers were just brilliant. I couldn't be happier for all the guys."

SCOTT SHARP
"To have a couple of races fall through cracks and to watch the de Ferran boys win four straight was hard to swallow.

"Everyone has put their head down and worked so hard after luck wasn't on our side at Long Beach, Lime Rock and Mid Ohio.

"The car wasn't very fast yesterday but we made a good step forward and then we had to make more changes for the race.

"The strategy worked out very well and David and I just drove our tails off.

"We haven't had the Acura set-up right where we wanted it and today was one of the first times where I felt I could really attack - probably for the first time since Long Beach.

"I was able to push hard through my stint and Brabs continued the good work and I am just so happy for all the guys who have worked so hard."

-credit: hc

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Jon Field , Simon Pagenaud
Teams HART