PETIT LE MANS TOUGH PROVING GROUND FOR HIGHCROFT RACING TEAM FIGHTS BACK AND FINISHES IN EIGHTH POSITION OVERALL The course at Road Atlanta presented a long, grinding challenge for the three Acura teams. At the end of tonight's 10th running of...
PETIT LE MANS TOUGH PROVING GROUND FOR HIGHCROFT RACING
TEAM FIGHTS BACK AND FINISHES IN EIGHTH POSITION OVERALL
The course at Road Atlanta presented a long, grinding challenge for the three Acura teams. At the end of tonight's 10th running of the Petit Le Mans, only one team was left running - Highcroft Racing. Stefan Johansson, who ran the final stint of the evening, fought hard to the very end, bringing in an eighth overall finish and a sixth-class position finish for the team.
David Brabham, who started the race from the fourth position after one of the Audi's was dropped to last place due to a driver change, said "During my first stint, it was a bit tricky on the restart, going from the setup we had from qualifying. I lost a lot of ground there. When the car would start to hook up, we would have a yellow [caution flag]. We were doing great considering the competition we were up against. We had a fantastic pit stop, beating the Penske car out of the pits early on. We had several great stops and the guys should be commended for that because that improved our position considerably in the early hours of the race."
Stefan Johansson, who took over driving duties for the next 3½ hours, described his time in the #9 Acura ARX-01a as arduous. As he explained, "We started out pretty well, but then we began having starter problems and we dropped down the running order. The car was difficult to drive in those conditions. Overall, the car was very light - which we knew before we started. We did a long pit stop on a yellow to adjust the rear wing. It made some difference, but the car had very low grip in general. With the grip issues, you had to work a lot harder than normal with the steering. It was just tough out there."
Robbie Kerr was next behind the wheel. He was right on pace until the intermittent problem with the starter stopped the car completely and brought the #9 Acura back behind the wall. Replacement of the starter took 23 minutes, and Kerr returned to the challenge, albeit 27 laps down. Kerr reflected on his first time driving at Petit, "It was a fantastic race - it's a shame we had an issue with the starter motor which cost us so much in the overall race. The traffic was okay - most of the drivers out there are professionals and they give you more room if they see you're a lot quicker. With the other drivers who weren't so accommodating, you had to fight your way past. In the larger picture, I have really enjoyed my time with Highcroft and I hope I'll be back in the future."
Brabs, weighing in after it was over, said, "We came into the event with fairly high expectations of doing well, unfortunately we've had a few issues which certainly stopped our progress in the race. But situations like this can be great motivators to dig deeper and be even more prepared for next year."
Though obviously hoping for a stronger finish, team owner Duncan Dayton pointed out, "We're pleased to have finished. As the only Acura left standing we felt a strong obligation to get to the finish line. Of course it's disappointing that a ancillary component like a starter motor prevented us from a sure fourth place and possibly even a podium finish. But we finished and that's what counts. It was a good run by David, Stefan and Robbie and we'll come back next year and go after Penske."