WHAT A DAY FOR PATRON HIGHCROFT AT LONG BEACH When David Brabham took the checkered flag and LMP2 victory in the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach on Saturday, it marked an impressive list of accomplishments for Brabham and ...
WHAT A DAY FOR PATRON HIGHCROFT AT LONG BEACH
When David Brabham took the checkered flag and LMP2 victory in the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach on Saturday, it marked an impressive list of accomplishments for Brabham and teammate Scott Sharp, Patron Highcroft Racing and Acura.
Let's start with the drivers. Brabham's pass of Penske Racing's Romain Dumas on the next-to-last lap of the race made the popular Brit the first driver in American Le Mans Series history to record victories in four different classes. Brabham already had captured pole positions in four classes after qualifying first overall at Houston last year.
Brabham also won a Series race in his fifth different chassis. He has now scored victories in a Panoz LMP-01 and Panoz Esperante GTLM, Ferrari 550, Aston Martin DBR9 and now an Acura ARX-01b.
"Winning in four classes is great for me but it doesn't mean as much as this effort that the team put forth," Brabham said. "To win here for Patron in their title race and in the backyard of Acura is very big for our team. We didn't have a good car on Thursday when practice opened. But the crew worked hard to develop a balance, and Scott and I worked well together. This is very exciting for me and the rest of the team."
Sharp won his first Series race in just his third start. He had finished second in class and third overall two weeks earlier at St. Petersburg with Brabham so it was obvious that the pairing was a threat to take victory. Sharp became the 122nd driver in Series history to win a race.
"This is a great feeling to win," he said. "We were joking with the Patron guys before the race that they didn't want to give out the post-race trophies to a different team. We knew if we got to the end, we had a chance to win."
Next is the story of Duncan Dayton and Patron Highcroft Racing. When Acura first revealed its first three teams in July 2006, Highcroft was one that raised a few eyebrows. The other two squads - Andretti Green Racing and Lowe's Fernandez Racing - brought more experience and a deeper tradition to the table. But so far in its second season, Patron Highcroft ranks as the best of the Acura teams in the LMP2 championship.
"I can't believe how many man-hours it took to get here in Victory Lane," Dayton said. "This win is a huge tribute to the guys in the shop and the crew and drivers here at Long Beach. My heartfelt thanks for Acura for their support as well as Honda Performance Development. They worked so hard to help us last year. And this victory is very exciting for Patron. They came on with our team this year and we were able to win their race here at Long Beach. It is a tremendous feeling to get to the top of the podium against the Penske team."
Finally comes Acura, which scored its first victory since Andretti Green Racing's win in 2007 in the manufacturer's debut. Saturday's triumph also was the first for the new ARX-01b. It could not have come at a better place with Long Beach only an hour's drive from Honda Performance Development's home base in Santa Clarita, Calif.
"This win is a culmination of a lot of hard work and determination by everyone at Honda Performance Development and our Acura racing teams," said Jack Spurney, General Manager of Honda Performance Development. "This was many people working very hard to get Acura to this position. It is so special to stand on the top of the podium here at Long Beach, right in the backyard of Acura and HPD. I want to wish a well-deserved congratulations to Duncan Dayton and the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura team."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by Grand and Little America Hotels on Sunday, May 18 from Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT with live television coverage on SPEED. Live radio coverage will be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 and American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.