Road Atlanta: Acura Motorsports preview

PATRON HIGHCROFT ACURA TEAM SEEKS THIRD STRAIGHT ALMS OVERALL WIN AGAINST STRONG LMP1 FIELD AT PETIT LE MANS ON SEPT. 26 Brabham, Sharp and Franchitti Set For Tough Battle With de Ferran Acura, Peugeots And Audis BRASELTON, Ga.

PATRON HIGHCROFT ACURA TEAM SEEKS THIRD STRAIGHT ALMS OVERALL WIN AGAINST STRONG LMP1 FIELD AT PETIT LE MANS ON SEPT. 26
Brabham, Sharp and Franchitti Set For Tough Battle With de Ferran Acura, Peugeots And Audis

BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 21, 2009) -- The Patron Highcroft Racing team wants its current trend to continue when the green flag drops Saturday for the prestigious Petit Le Mans sports car classic.

That trend for the Connecticut-based racing organization has been winning.

For the past two American Le Mans Series events [Road America and Mosport], drivers David Brabham and Scott Sharp have taken the overall honors in their fast No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-02a prototype. Those two wins have help extend the team's current LMP1 class point lead.

In the past two ALMS seasons, Brabham and Sharp have combined for seven class triumphs including Acura's first overall win last year at Lime Rock Park. This year, with the new highly-advanced Acura LMP1 sports car, the Patron Highcroft pair have victories at St. Petersburg, Road America and Mosport.

Now, Brabham and Sharp will be joined by 2007 Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, a past 12 Hours of Sebring champion. A four-time 2009 IndyCar Series race winner, Franchitti brings an added component to the Patron Highcroft team in one of the most competitive sports car race of the year.

"The Petit Le Mans prototype lineup is one of the strongest you will see all year," said Brabham, who won his first 24 Hours of Le Mans overall title in June. "With the Audi and Peugeot factory teams coming as well as the new Oreca team, the Road Atlanta race will be as exciting as any this year. Plus, at Le Mans, the Acura cars were not there. And I know the Acura cars are much improved since Sebring when we debuted them against the Audis and Peugeots. The Petit should be a real competitive event. Maybe the best ever for that race."

The consistency of the Patron Highcroft Acura squad this year has been positive for the team against the speedy de Ferran Motorsports effort that has four wins this year. A couple of bad breaks have cost Patron Highcroft Racing a chance for two more other race wins in 2009. Now, the drivers think their bad luck is behind them.

"David and I have been able to be in a great position to win many races this year," said Sharp. "Our Patron Highcroft team is well-organized and very experienced at winning races. We have had a couple of races with tough luck. We thought we should have won those [events], but the luck wasn't on our side. Now, the team is on a good roll with two straight wins. With Dario driving with us at Road Atlanta, we have a great chance of winning again."

Last year, Franchitti was set to drive for Patron Highcroft Racing at Road Atlanta, but he never got in the car due to the team's early exit from the 1,000-mile race. Now the popular Scot is anxious to drive the Acura again.

"In watching the job that the Patron Highcroft guys have done over the season and talking to the team about the development of the car, it appears the car has come a long way since I first drove it back at Sebring," said Franchitti. "Anytime you bring in another driver, it is interesting to get some feedback from somebody else's perspective. With driving IndyCars for the whole season the performance is a lot more similar to the sportscar so that should help me get up to speed a lot quicker in the limited amount of track time we have available. The Patron Highcroft boys have been doing a great job all season and I would love to help them in some small way to achieve their championship goal. I'm very much aware of what my job is going to be at Petit. It is certainly an exceptional field with Audi, Peugeot and also the Oreca guys coming over."

The de Ferran Acura team, with drivers Gil de Ferran, Simon Pagenaud and IndyCar Series star Scott Dixon, will join Patron Highcroft Racing in Acura's challenge for the coveted Petit Le Mans overall title.

The Petit Le Mans will be televised live on SPEED-TV beginning at 11 a.m. [EDT] on Saturday.

-credit: acura motorsports

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon