Road Atlanta: Highcroft Racing early out report

Patron Highcroft Racing Denied at Petit Le Mans The Patron Highcroft Racing team was denied the chance to battle for the Petit Le Mans title, and continue the fight for the American Le Mans Series LMP2 championship, when the Acura ARX-01b was...

Patron Highcroft Racing Denied at Petit Le Mans

The Patron Highcroft Racing team was denied the chance to battle for the Petit Le Mans title, and continue the fight for the American Le Mans Series LMP2 championship, when the Acura ARX-01b was forced to retire after just 16 laps at Road Atlanta.

It's been a challenging weekend for the Patron Highcroft Racing crew who had to completely build a new Acura ARX-01b from scratch following an incident in Thursday's practice. An amazing team effort ensured the new car was ready for qualifying. A solid performance from David Brabham secured seventh fastest in LMP2, only for the officials to rule that the Acura had to start from the back of the grid due to missing night practice on Thursday. Yet, even Dario Franchitti, the third driver for this event, remained optimistic about the team's chances.

With the team taking everything in stride, Scott Sharp got a great start from 36th and charged up to 17th overall and eighth in LMP2 when the first full course caution was called on lap three. When the field returned to racing on lap seven Sharp seized the opportunity to continue his attack to take two further places and clear the GT field.

By lap 12 Sharp was up to 11th position and seventh in LMP2 when the Acura spun and made contact with the wall at turn 10. Although unharmed, Sharp was escorted away from the car by the safety crew. If he had been permitted to stay with the car he would have pulled into the pits where the team could get to work.

The officials then decided that Sharp was allowed to return to the Acura, which was by this time on the back of a flatbed truck in the support paddock. But Sharp alone was permitted to make repairs before he could circulate the track and return to the pits. That proved impossible. With a broken wishbone, the half shaft out of the gearbox and a drive train problem, the car was forced to retire.

Sharp commented: "The Patron Highcroft Acura was running great. I was taking it easy and trying to get through the traffic but making good progress. I got through turn 10A and then got on the throttle. It's not a tough corner, but the car started to go into a lazy spin then it began to slide and I couldn't help but hit the inside wall. It was like something broke or a tire went down, it was a very odd feeling and very strange. It is a tough day for our Patron Highcroft team. They worked so hard to get the car back together on Thursday after an early crash and now this incident."

David Brabham said: "It's a real shame to end the race this way after the guys did such a tremendous job to repair the car and get it back into such good shape. Scott was doing great and everything was looking promising. Naturally everyone is gutted but now we will just focus on repairing the car and coming back stronger to hopefully win at Laguna Seca for the final race of the season."

-credit: hr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti