HIGHCROFT JOINS HPD LE MANS DOMINATION IN QUALIFYING
Le Mans LE MANS, FRANCE, Thursday, June 10, 2010: American Le Mans Series LMP1 champions Highcroft Racing played a key role in a Honda Performance Development domination in LMP2 qualifying at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France tonight.
The Highcroft squad of 2009 Le Mans 24 overall winner, David Brabham; Marino Franchitti and three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner qualified second fastest in the LMP2 class, Brabham stopping the clocks at 3 minutes, 34.537 seconds - more than three seconds faster than last year's LMP2 class pole.
The Honda Performance Development ARX-01c dominated the LMP2 class with Strakka Racing's Danny Watts taking the class pole. Rounding out the top three was another car with HPD power, the RML Lola.
Le Mans Like yesterday, the Highcroft team was fastest in the opening session with Brabham taking one traffic-disrupted run on Michelin qualifying rubber.
Marco Werner kicked off the second session concentrating the development of the race package. After being pushed back to second on the timesheet, David Brabham took one more attempt on qualifiers, only to strike traffic and then suffer an small error at the first chicane.
The team then elected to return to race preparation mode, with Marino Franchitti conducting a long run concentrating on fine tuning the package. The Highcroft team makes its debut at Le Mans running the new Wirth Research-designed low drag aero kit on the HPD machine for the first time.
David Brabham is scheduled to take the start in Saturday's race where the Malaria No More Highcroft machine will start second in class and 16th overall.
Regular Highcroft Racing driver Simon Pagenaud is in the overall pole winning Peugeot LMP1 entry - sharing with Sebastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy.
Le Mans The Malaria No More HIghcroft team now turns its attention to race preparation, installing a new HPD engine, gearbox, radiators and replacement suspension components on Friday.
Fans will get the chance to see the team in action - getting access to pit lane from 10:00am to 8:00pm. Thousands of fans will also line the streets of Le Mans for the traditional driver's parade on Friday night.
Brabham, Franchitti and Werner will help distribute autograph cards and newsletters along the parade route, urging fans to join them in the battle to beat malaria.
Team supporters can make a contribution at www.milestoendmalaria.org or bid for major autographed souvenir items on the special Ebay site at www.milestoendmalaria.org/auction
Brabs Le Mans Icon DAVID BRABHAM
"I'm very happy because we made a lot of progress since yesterday. Our main focus has been to get as good a racecar as possible because it is such a long race.
"We want a good comfortable car that is fast and consistent. You also want it to be easy on you as a driver. The first day the car wasn't quite in the sweet spot so we made some changes and it was much better tonight.
"There is still room for improvement so we'll look tonight and tomorrow and see where we can make improvements.
"I had a go at another qualifying lap but I had too much traffic and then I out-braked myself at the first chicane.
"I thought that was it and the team got on the radio about another set of Michelin qualifiers. I thought, yeah, lets go because we were really getting into the mood of qualifying.
"I then thought better of it, because we have to keep concentrating on the race. Well done to Strakka - that was a great lap time by Danny and I am really pleased for him to go out there and show his talent.
"I could feel myself getting a bit caught up in the qualifying excitement but I'm glad we switched back to race preparations because Marino got back in for a longer run and identified an issue we need to work on."
Marino Le Mans Icon MARINO FRANCHITTI
"I am delighted with the progress we have made because the car is a lot more user friendly and the three of us are a lot happier.
"All of us are up to pace now. For me, It was a big step forward today from yesterday like we expected.
"Congratulations to the Strakka - they did a a great job to get the pole. Brabs went out for a qualifying run and caught a lot of traffic, but it was never something that we really were concentrating on.
"We had more Michelin qualifying tires at our disposal but we are concentrating on the race and making sure the car is strong in all conditions.
"We've made a lot of progress already and I know we will make a lot more between now and the race.
"It was lot of fun out there in the dark in a prototype. It was a good education for Saturday night/Sunday morning - I am looking forward to doing plenty of night time driving."
Marco Le Mans Icon MARCO WERNER
"You need a lot of time here to set up the car and the team has a lot of new parts on the aero kit which they haven't run in American previously.
"It is completely knew and it takes a while to find the right set-up. The times are quite OK, but we'd like the car a little more stable on the longer runs.
"You need a car that you can push that is easy to drive and is comfortable. You don't want a car that feels like it is on the edge all the time.
"We'd like the rear of the car to be a little more solid and that is our goal between now and the race.
"Hopefully the guys can find something to make it a little better that we can try in the warm-up."
Duncan Dayton DUNCAN DAYTON
"This aero package on the ARX-01c is a learning curve for us but we have been making some very good headway with it.
"I'm really pleased for the Strakka guys that they laid down that lap and congratulations to them for putting it on pole - that is a fantastic achievement.
"We're looking forward to making some changes tomorrow to make the car a little quicker and we'll hopefully have the pace that we are looking for in the race.
"It is all about race pace - that is the ultimate goal. We have a couple of little issues we still need to solve and hopefully everything will be good on Sunday afternoon.
"For HPD to be 1-2 with the engine/chassis package and 1-2-3 with the engines is an amazing performance on their debut in Le Mans."