PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING READY FOR LIME ROCK BLOCKBUSTER SEQUEL DANBURY, CT, Friday, July 10, 2009: After clinching a result reminiscent of a blockbuster movie at Lime Rock Park last year, Patron Highcroft Racing is ready to launch the sequel...
PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING READY FOR LIME ROCK BLOCKBUSTER SEQUEL
DANBURY, CT, Friday, July 10, 2009: After clinching a result reminiscent of a blockbuster movie at Lime Rock Park last year, Patron Highcroft Racing is ready to launch the sequel when the American Le Mans Series returns to the famous Connecticut circuit next week.
In 2008, the team scored pole position but early contact in the race put the Patron Highcroft Racing crew to the test with frantic repairs.
As the race clock counted down to the checkered flag, a spectacular turn one pass with minutes remaining put the hometown squad back in the lead.
The overall victory was the first for the Highcroft team, the first for team sponsor Tequila Patron and the first for Acura in American Le Mans Series competition.
With long-time ALMS fan favorite David Brabham and Connecticut born-and-bred local hero Scott Sharp on the driving squad - race fans had plenty to cheer about.
Twelve months later, the team now leads the LMP1 points table and heads back to Lime Rock aiming to score its second victory of the year and pad its championship lead.
Patron Bee Brabham and Sharp are also eagerly awaiting a return to the #9 Acura - Brabham climbing back aboard after scoring his first overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victory while "moonlighting" for Peugeot in France in June and Sharp returning after his 2009 assault on the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Brabham and Sharp will also look to follow in the footsteps of team owner Duncan Dayton who took a race victory at Lime Rock Park in historic competition aboard his ex-Mario Andretti Lotus 79 over the Memorial Day weekend.
Prior to the race weekend, the Connecticut-based squad will showcase its Danbury facility with a media event at the team headquarters from 4pm on Thursday, July 16.
On track action kicks off on Friday with practice and qualifying. Saturday's Northeast Grand Prix will be staged over the traditional two hour, 45 minute format starting at 2:05pm on Saturday, July 18.
"Last year I really didn't know what to expect after not having raced at Lime Rock for 15 years but it was just an unbelievable feeling.
"The track felt comfortable straight away even though the layout was a little bit different. I spent so many days here in the early part of my career and it was great to be back.
"Anytime you can go to a home event is great. The reaction from the fans was incredible with signs everywhere, even on the roads leading to the track.
"To go out and perform the way the team did and win our first race overall was just huge.
"I'm really looking forward to heading back this year. Salt Lake City didn't go so well for us and the entire team has now had a large break to work extremely hard on looking to where we can find some more speed.
"Everyone has had time to think about how we can improve and go into this weekend with a full assault. We've looked at everything and even planned to do a lot of work on driver changes - no stone has been left unturned.
"We're there to win the race at Lime Rock. We had a very quick car last year and I think we can carry that across to the LMP1 Acura this year."
"It is the home race for Patron Highcroft Racing and last year we had an amazing race - it was incredible to win the first race for Patron, Highcroft and Acura.
"It holds a lot of great memories for us and the entire team is really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things after the Le Mans break.
"We have a championship to win and our full focus will be on winning this race.
"This is a very important race for us, because a win here will really kick start the second half of the season. Psychologically, it will be great to start this part of the championship on a high.
"We won here in a LMP2 car and I think the Fernandez Acura and the Dyson cars will be closer here than any other circuit we have been at so far this year. They could very much be a factor in this race.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back in the Acura after my Le Mans win. It was great to be given the opportunity by Highcoft and Acura to do Le Mans for Peugeot and to take the win was amazing. It has been a crazy few weeks of media and PR work after the race but that is coming to an end and my focus is now 100 percent back on winning the LMP1 championship with Acura."
DAVID BRABHAM AT LIME ROCK PARK
What is your favorite corner and why?
"Turn one is my favorite - it is an extremely fast entry. The resurfacing has made it easier but before they did that you used to lose a lot of grip over the concrete strips.
"That made it very challenging to get through there quickly.
"Now there is more grip you can really commit to the corner and you can carry a lot of speed. Last year we were always quickest through the first sector."
What is the most challenging aspect of Lime Rock Park?
"Traffic is the key here. It is such a narrow circuit it is a bit like a street circuit without walls.
"The race last year showed traffic is certainly the biggest challenge."
What is the secret to a good lap at Lime Rock?
"Getting through that traffic is obviously the secret to putting down consistent laps.
"The track has changed because of the resurfacing. It is probably now the smoothest track in North America and it required a big change to our set-up last year.
"It is a very challenging circuit because to try and find three or four tenths of a second on such a short lap isn't easy.
"To get pole position and win the race last year was a great team effort. We really got our numbers right."
If you could make a change to the circuit, what would it be?
"I would probably change the last chicane. It is really a bit tight and I would prefer to go back to the old West Bend corner that was a lot faster.
"Run-off was probably not good enough for these type of cars with the old configuration and I'm not sure that it still is.
"The changes have certainly done their job in slowing the cars down in the dangerous places, it just needs to be a little different."
What is your favorite memory of Lime Rock?
"Last year's race was definitely my favorite memory. Winning the first overall race for Acura and Patron Highcroft Racing was a great moment for the team."