STRONG ACURA SPORTS CAR LINEUP SET FOR AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES SHOWDOWN AT LAGUNA SECA Acura Seeks Sixth ALMS Win This Year With Superb Four-Car Contingent MONTEREY, Calif. -- After a sensational second half of the 2008 American...
STRONG ACURA SPORTS CAR LINEUP SET FOR AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES SHOWDOWN AT LAGUNA SECA
Acura Seeks Sixth ALMS Win This Year With Superb Four-Car Contingent
MONTEREY, Calif. -- After a sensational second half of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, the four Acura sports car teams make an all-out assault this Saturday at Laguna Seca Raceway to add a sixth victory to the Acura win collection in the tough LMP2 division.
For the four Acura teams -- Andretti Green Racing, de Ferran Motorsports, Lowe's Fernandez Racing and Patron Highcroft Racing -- a season-high sixth LMP2 class triumph would best the Porsche ranks for the first time in many years when the green drops at 2:45 p.m. (PDT) on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn legendary road circuit. Acura will move to the LMP1 class in 2009.
Acura teams, with the smaller-horsepower prototype cars, have scored four LMP2 class wins in the last six races and two overall victories [Lime Rock and Detroit]. In addition, Acura drivers have totaled three overall pole positions in the last six events with the smaller-horsepower prototype machines.
Acura's driver lineup posts outstanding credentials led by second generation star David Brabham, the four-time winner in 2008 as well as a class champion at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Brabham has had a magical season with great come-from-behind wins in ALMS competition this year as well as a second class title at Le Mans. The Australian racing star also has two overall poles with his four ALMS wins in 2008. Brabham, who won GTS class in 2003 at Laguna Seca, is the only driver in ALMS history to win races and poles in all four classes [LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2].
Brabham and Scott Sharp have battled all season for the highly-competitive LMP2 division title and currently rank second in the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-01b car.
Joining the Acura's impressive driver lineup will be former Indy 500 winner and CART champion Gil de Ferran, who is no stranger to Laguna Seca, having won his first CART race as a rookie in 1995. De Ferran started his own ALMS team at mid-season this year and won the overall pole at Mid-Ohio. The Brazilian legend will be co-driving with young French driver Simon Pagenaud at Laguna Seca in the No. 66 Panasonic ELS Acura ARX-01b.
Former IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, a Sebring winner last year, returns to the controls of the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b along with recent Detroit overall winner Franck Montagny. Montagny, a pole winner at Road America, has been lightening fast since he came to Andretti Green Racing at mid-season. Kanaan made a dramatic drive in last year's Laguna Seca race by driving to the lead lap after being behind two laps when he took over the driving chores. Kanaan finished third in the 1998 CART open-wheel event at Laguna Seca in his rookie season.
The No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura team, very competitive at this year's Sebring race, expects to be in contention in the four-hour event. Mexican driving stars Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz drove the Lowe's Lola to third in last year's LMP2 division at Laguna Seca. Both racers have been contenders in open-wheel events previously at Laguna Seca. Fernandez, with many top-ten finishes in Monterey through his career, is seeking his first ALMS win after success in CART, IndyCar Series, Indy Lights and Grand Am racing.
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-0ba): "Our Patron Highcroft Acura team has had a great year, but we are in a tough battle with Penske and Porsche for the championships. The Laguna Seca race is always a great event. Being the last race on the circuit, it is important to go out with a victory. We have a great Acura chassis and engine. We expect to be at the front for Laguna."
SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "We have won four races this year and look for another spot at the top of the podium at Laguna Seca. Laguna is a classic track. So much character and history to it. Our crew, led by Duncan Dayton and Rob Hill, has been doing a great job of calling the right shot at the end of the races. We hope that will happen again at Laguna Seca. We should be in the thick of things throughout the race. We want to win again."
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "Our Lowe's Acura team has been fast all year, but we have had some bad luck. We were very strong at Sebring this year. We'll use the same strategy to get us to the front. Laguna Seca is a special race for us. We finished third last year and we'll be going strong for the win this time."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We had a good car last year at Laguna Seca. That was with the Lola. The new Acura ARX-01b is a much better chassis and I expect us to be very competitive at Laguna. That is one of my favorite tracks to drive. I remember some great race in CART there. I feel very confident we'll have the Lowe's Acura in a strong position in the race."
FRANCK MONTAGNY (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "The win at Detroit was very good for everyone on the Andretti Green XM team. We had been close before and should have won a couple of the races earlier. But now driving with Tony , I believe we can win the Laguna race also. I expect our XM Acura to be right at the front all race."
TONY KANAAN (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "I have always enjoyed driving the XM Acura and I'm looking forward to the Laguna Seca race. Last year, I drove back from a couple of laps down to finish right at the front. I think Franck and I can be right in the battle for the win. It would be great to win there."
GIL de FERRAN (#66 Panasonic ELS de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b): "It is very exciting for me to return to Laguna Seca. I won my first CART race there in 1995 as a rookie. And I won the pole in my last race at Laguna . So it's a big thrill to come back."
SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 Panasonic ELS de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b): "I have heard a lot about Laguna Seca. I know Gil has a lot of success there. I expect our Acura to be very competitive there. We believe we'll a car to race for the win and it would be great to captured the last race of the season."
-credit: acura motorsports