Laguna Seca: David Brabham race report

Brabham Takes Sensational Second Victory At Laguna Seca London, UK -- Sunday May 23, 2010; David Brabham extended his American Le Mans Series championship lead by taking victory in spectacular style in a sensational six-hour showdown at the...

Brabham Takes Sensational Second Victory At Laguna Seca

London, UK -- Sunday May 23, 2010; David Brabham extended his American Le Mans Series championship lead by taking victory in spectacular style in a sensational six-hour showdown at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The reigning ALMS champion rightly predicted a close race for round three, the American Le Mans Series Monterey, as Highcroft Racing targeted two consecutive wins, following victory at Long Beach, to build on their joint LMP title lead.

Not even a penalty that dropped the Highcroft car to the back of the 35-car grid, after Brabham qualified second fastest, could extinguish their hopes. Monumental charges from Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti, together with perfect pit work from the Highcroft crew, secured the laurels and a clear class lead.

Brabham took charge of the second-placed HPD ARX-01c after a stellar run from Pagenaud right from the flag, climbing through the field up to fourth by lap four before taking the lead with 4 hours 40 minutes of racing remaining.

The Highcroft Racing car retained the top slot until just before the fourth full course caution pitstops under which Brabham joined the battle for round three, with 3 hours 35 minutes to go.

When racing got under way over 10 minutes later, Brabham was ready to get to grips with regaining the team's lead and set Andy Meyrick in his sights. Immediately closing on the Dyson Mazda's rear bumper as the green flag fell, he was picking out a place to pass when the fifth full course yellow halted his advances.

Thanks to lightening reactions, Brabham took the lead at the restart after amazingly avoiding the melee caused by a spinning Meyrick exiting Turn 11, but another safety car period followed as the race hit the halfway mark with 114 laps completed.

Finally clear of cautions on lap 135, after spending almost half his stint circulating under the safety car, Brabham finally got the chance to run at race speed.

Making light work of the heavy traffic, the reigning champion kept charging to consistently clock-up times in the 1minute 15s to comfortably stretch his one lap lead.

Brabham continued turn perfect as he navigated the furious battles raging throughout the field for the next 36 laps of clear running before pitting the lead car with 1 hour 56 remaining, for Franchitti to join the fray.

Despite further full course cautions, the Scotsman delivered a solid drive, holding fast at the front until the straight-line speed of the Dyson car bore fruit as the race approached its final hour.

Franchitti kept in contention and re-took the top slot when the Mazda pit with 51 minutes to go. His lead was extended to multiple laps when the Mazda retired just into the final 30 minutes and Franchitti was free to coast to the flag and his first outright ALMS victory.

"Today was one of our best performances ever. This win has been hard earned by every single member of the Patron Highcroft team," said Brabham. "It was a fantastic race with relentless action. Only when the Dyson car retired could we really relax, as we were looking at fighting the Mazda right to the flag.

"It would have been great if they had stayed in the hunt, just one more yellow and they could have been right behind us again, so it's a shame their race ended in retirement.

"We nailed a good set-up. Our biggest focus was on getting a good balance. The tyre temperatures came up quickly and our Michelins cleared the pick-up well and that helped us to stay on the track. The grip level changed a lot but we were able to set a good pace that others had problems matching.

"Endurance racing demands durability. You have to be fast, be able to go the distance and be flawless and that's exactly what Highcroft Racing perfectly demonstrated today."

From victory lane at Laguna Seca, Brabham and Highcroft Racing head on a high for the team's Le Mans 24 Hours debut in a few weeks time. Although first time out for Highcroft, Brabham returns to the historic endurance race as the 2009 race winner attempting to score his fourth consecutive class win in three different categories.

Brabham continued; "The team has worked so, so hard for this win. Before this race they tested all the Le Mans bodywork and components. It's a massive feat to have done all that, change the car back again for Laguna Seca and win. It really is testament to how good the Highcroft Racing team really is.

"This result gives us all a great confidence and sense of self belief and you need that heading to Le Mans. It can be a daunting place but the team deserves to be there, so we'll be treating it like any other race and I expect we'll deliver another stunning performance."

-source: david brabham PR

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Simon Pagenaud , Andy Meyrick