Lime Rock: Acura preview

PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING BRINGS LOCAL FLAVOR TO LIME ROCK; IMPRESSIVE ACURA LINEUP SEEKS SECOND LMP2 WIN Four Strong Acura Teams Primed For Highly-Competitive Race In Northeast Grand Prix LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- The strong Acura...


Four Strong Acura Teams Primed For Highly-Competitive Race In Northeast Grand Prix

LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- The strong Acura Motorsports lineup brings some local flavor to the upcoming Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park this weekend (July 11-12).

Patron Highcroft Racing, based in nearby Danbury, CT, returns to the newly-paved 1.54-mile, eight-turn road circuit with an impressive resume already in 2008 in the American Le Mans Series.

Headed by team owner Duncan Dayton and a superb crew, the Patron Highcroft Racing organization scored its first ALMS victory with a spectacular come-from-behind win in the streets of Long Beach, Calif. Drivers David Brabham and Scott Sharp, a Danbury native, drove their Acura ARX-01b prototype car to a win, a second and a fourth in the LMP2 class in the four ALMS events this year.

The victory for Brabham, also a winner at Le Mans last month, set an ALMS record as the Australian driver became the first racer to win races in all four ALMS classes (LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2) in his career. Last year, Brabham was the first driver to win pole positions in all four divisions in ALMS.

Sharp, the former IndyCar Series and Trans-Am champion, moved to ALMS this year and has quickly become a factor in the prototype divisions.

In addition to the local Patron Highcroft squad, the Acura contingent has added former Indy 500 champion Gil de Ferran's new racing operation, which made its ALMS debut in May at Utah. De Ferran, the 2003 Indy 500 winner and two-time CART champion, teamed with young French star Simon Pagenaud to place third in Acura team's first race.

The fast Lime Rock course will host a stellar field of sports cars that includes Audi, Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda, Corvette and the Acura teams of de Ferran Motorsports, Lowe's Fernandez Racing, Andretti Green Racing and the Patron Highcroft team.

The No. 15 Lowe's Acura contingent of Mexican driving stars Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz, who drove wheel-to-wheel with the winning Porsche throughout the 12 Hours of Sebring, have switched from the Lola chassis to the new Acura ARX-01b car in 2008 and shown impressive speed in 2008.

The Andretti Green Racing brings newcomer and 24 Hours of Le Mans star Franck Montagny as the new primary driver of the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b at Lime Rock. Montagny, who placed second at Long Beach last April in the final Champ Car race, will team with IndyCar Series star Marco Andretti, who'll race twice Saturday in the afternoon ALMS race and the Nashville IRL night race.

De Ferran, who recently served as sporting director for Honda Formula One, retired from driving in 2003 and decided to return this year as both a driver and team owner. The popular Brazilian star made a sensational return at Utah by nearly capturing the overall pole position and then led the Utah race before settling for third. De Ferran and Simon Pagenaud will be making their first appearances at Lime Rock in an effort to take the No. 66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01b to victory lane..

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-0ba): "It has been good year so far for me with wins at Long Beach and recently at Le Mans. Long Beach was very special. To win there for Patron in their title race and in the backyard of Acura was big for our team. Winning in four ALMS classes is great for me but it doesn't mean as much as the effort that the team put forth. The Long Beach win was a very exciting for me and the rest of the team. We are ready to go for another win. The Lime Rock circuit is close to our team's headquarters, so a win would be a huge event for the team."

SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "To get the first win this year for Acura and Patron, it's a big accomplishment. Now coming to Lime Rock is very special. It was my home track when I started racing for my dad (Bob Sharp Racing). So a win at Lime Rock would be incredible since our shop is just down the road from Lime Rock. But it won't be easy. The other Acuras and the Porsches are tough."

LUIS DIAZ: (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We are anxious to get to the Lime Rock track. We have had a fast Lowe's Acura in the first four races this year but we haven't finished like we have raced. A few things have cost us podium finishes. After some testing, we believe our Lowe's Acura is in position to win. Hopefully we can do that at Lime Rock. Adrian and I are ready for a strong finish."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We have been a little frustrated in the early portion of the 2008 season because we have run very well in all of the races but we haven't finished well. So Luis and I are looking at Lime Rock as a springboard for our season. Now, we would like to win there and show our car's speed."

FRANCK MONTAGNY (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "I'm very excited to join Andretti Green Racing and the XM Acura program. I am looking forward to working with the team and hoping to get off to a good start at Lime Rock. I know how competitive the American Le Mans Series is and know how challenging this race will be. I am eager to get started."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b team owner): "We're looking forward to seeing what Franck can do in the XM Acura. He's got a lot of experience in different types of cars."

GIL de FERRAN (#66 Panasonic ELS Sound de Ferran Motosports Acura ARX-01b): "I'm having a great time driving a race car again. But in addition, I am enjoying the out of the cockpit activities as a team owner. It's been a very fun project. We had a great run at the Miller Motorsports Park with a chance to win. We are learning about sports car racing right now. It is different from open-wheel racing. But driving the prototypes is a lot like driving an open-wheel car. The car handles very similar and the brakes are tremendous. Working with the Acura folks and the HPD (Honda Performance Development) people has been a great pleasure. They want win and so do we at de Ferran Motorsports."

SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 Panasonic ELS Sound de Ferran Motosports Acura ARX-01b): "I am thrilled to be a part of de Ferran Motorsports and to drive with a legend like Gil. It was exciting to compete at Utah and compete in the American Le Mans Series. This series has some of the most sophisticated racing cars in the world, and drivers are some of the best in the world too. This is a tough series to win."

-credit: acura

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Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , David Brabham , Franck Montagny , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , Marco Andretti , Simon Pagenaud , Bob Sharp