Laguna Seca: Acura Motorsports preview

PATRON HIGHCROFT, de FERRAN ACURA TEAMS WAGE P1 TITLE BATTLE IN AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES FINALE AT LAGUNA SECA De Ferran Makes Final Race As Driver, Lowe's Duo Seeks Record-Tying Victory MONTEREY, Calif. -- Drama and celebrations...

De Ferran Makes Final Race As Driver, Lowe's Duo Seeks Record-Tying Victory

MONTEREY, Calif. -- Drama and celebrations will highlight the four-hour American Le Mans Series finale set for this Saturday, October 10, at the famed Laguna Seca Raceway with the Monterey Sports Championships beginning at 2:45 p.m. [PDT].

The drama will be the battle for the coveted LMP1 driver and team titles between the Acura squads of Patron Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports. The leading pair of David Brabham and Scott Sharp for Patron Highcroft holds a 21-point margin over the de Ferran duo of Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud in the duel of identical Acura ARX-02a cars.

The celebrations will be many for the Acura teams including a special farewell in de Ferran's last driving event. Acura will be the first carmaker in ALMS history to win both prototype class crowns in the same year with both manufacturers' titles already clinched. In addition, the Lowe's Fernandez team, with drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz, have won the LMP2 drivers and team point titles entering Laguna Seca.

The Patron Highcroft Racing team was in jeopardy of losing its LMP1 point lead two weeks ago at Road Atlanta in the Petit Le Mans race after a horrific high-speed crash involving Sharp in practice. The former IndyCar Series champion made contact with a GT car and catapulted into the safety barrier and fencing. The No. 9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a machine was destroyed, and a replacement tub was shipped from Southern California to Road Atlanta. On Friday morning, the team began to built a new Acura from the ground up. In 20 hours, the car was ready and Brabham made the start of the Saturday's sports car classic.

A sixth-place finish helped extend the Patron Highcroft team's point lead to 21 as the de Ferran Motorsports team was knocked out of contention by a slower car after running as high as second.

The Patron Highcroft team must complete 70 per cent of the four-hour distance at Laguna Seca to win its first ALMS crown. De Ferran, in his final driving competition with Pagenaud, must win overall and hope the Patron team has trouble. De Ferran's No. 66 car will have a new white paint scheme in honor of Gil's first U.S. car owner, the legendary Jim Hall, who will attend the race.

Fernandez and Diaz seek a record-tying eighth LMP2 class win at Laguna Seca in their potent No. 15 Lowe's Acura ARX-01b. Penske Racing won eight LMP2 races in 2007 for the record.

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "The Road Atlanta event was an exciting experience for the Patron Highcroft Racing team. Having to build a car as sophisticated as the Acura in a day was an amazing process. We could have been out of the point lead without that incredible effort. But we were able to collect sixth place points and extend our advantage. Now, we come to one of my favorite tracks in hopes of clinching the title. Last year, I won the pole but we had some problems. We have to run to the finish this time. The de Ferran team will be out to win and close the gap. It has been a great year, and we want to finish it up in style with a championship."

SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "I felt so bad at Road Atlanta after the crash. The Acura was destroyed and the team did a miraculous job to get us back on the track for the race. Now, David and I have a chance to win a championship at Laguna Seca. I think the new P1 Acura will be a tremendous car at that track. The high-speed corners should be fun to drive with the new car. We just have to race problem-free this time."

GIL de FERRAN (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "It's going to be an emotional occasion for me at Laguna Seca. I won my first IndyCar race with Jim Hall at the track in 1995. It will be great to have Jim come to my last race behind the wheel. We plan to carrying a new white No. 66 paint scheme in honor of Jim's famous Chaparral cars. In addition, we still have a chance at the LMP1 title. It would be great to win in my final race and take the championship at one of my favorite circuits in the world."

SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "Last year, the Laguna Seca was one of the best battles I have had in my career. I raced wheel-to-wheel with Tony Kanaan for the LMP2 win. We swapped the lead several times and he got by me in traffic. I nearly got him at the finish line. It was quite a duel. Now, in Gil's final race, I would love to win at Laguna Seca. It would be great finish to Gil's career and good way to wrap up the year with five wins. We still have a chance for the championship, too. So it is not over until the checkered flag."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We enjoyed a great season. It's almost like a dream with seven wins in nine races. I have been so proud of our Lowe's Fernandez Acura team this year. Now, we come back to Laguna Seca, a great circuit. It's one of my favorite. We would love to win that one, too."

LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "I have really had a great experience this year. Winning the driver, team and manufacturer championships has made for a super season. I want to win at Laguna Seca."

-credit: acura motorsports

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Tony Kanaan , Luis Diaz , Simon Pagenaud