Road Atlanta: Highcroft Racing qualifying report

Patron Highcroft Racing Pulls Out the Stops to Get Back on Track at Petit Le Mans Thanks to outstanding team work the Patron Highcroft Racing crew completely rebuilt the Acura ARX-01b overnight, after it sustained heavy damage in Thursday ...

Patron Highcroft Racing Pulls Out the Stops to Get Back on Track at Petit Le Mans

Thanks to outstanding team work the Patron Highcroft Racing crew completely rebuilt the Acura ARX-01b overnight, after it sustained heavy damage in Thursday practice, to qualify seventh in LMP2 for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The team's monumental efforts have ensured that drivers Scott Sharp, David Brabham and Dario Franchitti are back in the fight for the 10 hour/1,000-mile event and penultimate round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series.

The Patron Highcroft crew worked in shifts throughout the entire night to get the car running. Remarkably, the Acura could have gone out for practice on Friday morning, but the team wisely made the decision to further review the newly-built car.

After missing all of Thursday's practice sessions, the #9 Acura's first laps on track came in qualifying. David Brabham put in some solid installation laps to ensure everything was in order before attempting to post any quick times. Despite the car being literally fresh out of the box, Brabham was able to push as the session progressed and managed to post a fastest time of 1:08.064 to qualify 12th overall and seventh in LMP2.

"Incredible work by the entire Patron Highcroft Racing crew made sure that we were back on track for qualifying today. They did a phenomenal job," said team principal Duncan Dayton. "There is a great spirit in the team and there was a lot of laughing and smiling to keep us going through the night. We managed to give David a pretty good car for qualifying although we missed a little bit on the set-up and balance. But nine-tenths off of the LMP2 pole car isn't bad for a car turning its first laps. We've got good straight-line speed and some improvements planned for the race tomorrow. We've got a strong car and a great group of drivers, so we should have a shot."

Sharp commented: "We think that a loss of air balance on the rear of the car caused the incident yesterday, but the crew has done a fantastic job to rebuild it in 12 hours. The team's outstanding strength is our foundation in every aspect. We are strong. We've got smart strategy and we are consistent at getting good results. Every one of those attributes will come into play during the long race. I'm feeling great and I am looking forward to starting the race tomorrow."

Brabham commented: "I can't believe the amazing job done by the Patron Highcroft Racing team to completely rebuild the car overnight. It was no easy task and I'm very proud of all of the guys. To get back out there for qualifying was fantastic, although we knew that we didn't have enough time to get a good qualifying setup, but the car was pretty good considering. We'll make a couple of tweaks for the race but I am confident that we have a good car. On race day, you can only work with the car you have, but we have proved this season that this team can give the drivers a good racing machine. We should be competitive throughout the race and I feel good about our chances."

Franchitti added: "Getting back in the Acura has been a big culture shock for me. It is so different from driving the stock car this year. These cars are so quick and they are the most technically-advanced on the planet. We had a good test here a few weeks ago and that really helped to prepare me for this weekend. The incident yesterday was tough on the crew guys, but this team is so talented that they will be sure to give us a great car for the race. I'm looking forward to Saturday."

With qualifying complete the team can now concentrate on fine tuning the Acura to help Sharp, Brabham and Franchitti, to mount their assault during the maximum 10-hour race tomorrow for which maximum points are up for grabs. Approaching the penultimate round, which starts at 11:15 AM EDT, Sharp and Brabham lie second in the LMP2 title fight, just four points adrift of the leaders, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. Patron Highcroft also sits second in the Team championship to Penske Racing, so there's everything to play for.

-credit: hr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Timo Bernhard , Romain Dumas
Teams Team Penske