PATRÃ“N HIGHCROFT STEAL PODIUM SPOT IN ROAD AMERICA DOGFIGHT Road America ELKHART LAKE, WI, Sunday, August 22, 2010: PatrÃ³n Highcroft Racing captured its seventh consecutive podium finish at Road America today in a ...
PATRÓN HIGHCROFT STEAL PODIUM SPOT IN ROAD AMERICA DOGFIGHT
Road America ELKHART LAKE, WI, Sunday, August 22, 2010: Patrón Highcroft Racing captured its seventh consecutive podium finish at Road America today in a dramatic finish to the latest round of the American Le Mans Series.
After a series of mid-race safety car periods, the race turned into a fuel saving battle with the Highcroft machine of Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham joining championship rivals CytoSport on one-stop strategies.
The race came down to the final lap when the Drayson Lola of Johnny Cocker passed CytoSport's Klaus Graf with only two corners remaining to take the win.
While that was taking place, Brabham was holding the Dyson Mazda of Guy Smith at bay to steal the final podium spot.
The end result ate into Highcroft's championship lead by three points - dropping from 23 to 20 points with only two races remaining.
With a mere six seconds covering the top four cars at the finish - a win by CytoSport and fourth place by Highcroft would have had more dramatic consequences - resulting in a ten point swing.
Road America After only qualifying fifth fastest yesterday using the low downforce Le Mans aero kit for the first time, Simon Pagenaud put the team's new found straight line speed to great effect - moving through the pack to second on the opening lap.
Pagenaud eventually pitted from the race lead under yellow after 84 minutes to hand over to Brabham.
After initially losing a place to the CytoSport Porsche of Graf and Timo Bernhard after a seatbelt came undone during the stop, Brabham jumped the Porsche on a restart with 52 minutes remaining chasing the Drayson Lola through on the main straight.
However, 12 minutes later the Honda Performance Development factory-backed ARX-01c was pushed wide at the Carousel in traffic - Brabham was caught in the marbles which allowed Graf past.
Both teams switched to fuel conservation mode in the run to the finish with the thirstier Dyson Mazda and Drayson Lola entries forced to pit for fuel.
With Brabham and Graf running on fumes at the finish - Drayson's Johnny Cocker was able to sweep past both to take the win. Mid-Ohio winners Dyson Racing finished fourth.
Patrón Highcroft Racing will now head north of the border to Canada for round eight of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron at Mosport International Raceway.
The team will kick off preparations for the Canadian round this Wednesday with additional testing on Friday, practice and qualifying on Saturday and the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday, August 29.
"The Patrón Highcroft Racing team did the best we could today. We were saving fuel like crazy towards the end and we were really on fumes there at the end.
"We haven't done enough practice in saving fuel but it really hasn't been required in other races this year.
"It is difficult to get a feel for what you had to do in terms of style and fuel mixture. In the end we managed to work it out in terms of the fuel consumption number that we wanted and still be able to go quicker and quicker.
"We just didn't have enough in it at the end - it wouldn't have done another lap.
"I felt with a couple of laps to go the Dyson guys behind really turned up the wick and Guy was all over me.
"It was important that I stayed in front of him and in the last couple of corners I got a bit of a break in the traffic.
"To keep Dyson behind and Drayson winning overall was a better scenario for us in the championship.
"We're trying to do the best we can with what we've got but the Drayson car is extremely fast here and were 2.5 seconds quicker than us in qualifying so the fact they only beat us by five seconds shows that we did pretty well."
Simon Pagenaud SIMON PAGENAUD
"The big picture of the championship is what we are looking for here.
"In the end it was a pretty good result overall. I think we had the pace to get ahead of the Porsche but we had to save fuel and in the end we were just behind at the finish.
"We're still 20 points ahead with only two races remaining so that is still a good cushion in the championship.
"Our package was quite interesting in the race and I am pretty optimistic for the remainder of the season.
"It is certainly better than us finishing fourth and them winning which very well could have happened.
"My opening lap was a lot of fun going from fifth to second. The car was OK, but the top speed with the Le Mans aero package was amazing.
"I got the Porsche on the outside of turn one, the Dyson car in turn five and Drayson in turn eight - I thought, wow, maybe I can get P1 now.
"The car was great and I was able to keep up with the leaders. We definitely have a lot less downforce than the others but the amount of work the engineers did in fine-tuning our mechanical set-up was really incredible.
"Changing to this package was a big gamble but it paid off and it is a big reward for the entire team."
-source: highcroft racing