HOMETOWN PATRÃ“N HIGHCROFT HEROES READY FOR LIME ROCK BATTLE DANBURY, CT, Monday, July 19, 2010: PatrÃ³n Highcroft Racing may have won the past three American Le Mans Series races in succession, but reaching victory lane at this weekend's...
HOMETOWN PATRÓN HIGHCROFT HEROES READY FOR LIME ROCK BATTLE
DANBURY, CT, Monday, July 19, 2010: Patrón Highcroft Racing may have won the past three American Le Mans Series races in succession, but reaching victory lane at this weekend's hometown Connecticut race at Lime Rock Park is a signifcant goal for the Danbury squad's title battle.
As the 2010 championship challenge reaches the half-way point of the season, the Highcroft squad holds an 11-point lead in the championship.
However, the combination of David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud know another victory here will be a key factor in the team defending its 2009 championship crown.
Lime Rock has been a happy hunting ground for Highcroft in the past, David Brabham and Scott Sharp scoring the team's first ever overall ALMS victory here in 2008 when a low-on-fuel David Brabham pulled off an amazing pass around the outside on Porsche RS Spyder driver Timo Bernhard in turn 1 with only minutes remaining.
The team looked set to take back-to-back victories last season after a clever two-tire only pit stop leap-frogged them into the lead, only for a puncture to strike and steal away the victory.
On paper, the Lime Rock Park circuit certainly suits the factory-backed Honda Performance Development ARX-01c chassis - more so than any other race held to date this season.
However, the Duncan Dayton-led squad is not taking anything for granted, leaving no stone unturned to fine tune the team's new aero package and further improve the team's stellar performance in pit lane.
Outstanding pit work and clever strategy has been one of the secrets of success for Highcroft in 2010 - never more so than at the previous ALMS event in Salt Lake City where the team overcame a significant straight-line speed disadvantage to clinch its first Miller Motorsport Park victory.
The Salt Lake success was Brahham's 22nd American Le Mans Series victory and the eighth for Pagenaud.
The victory was also the 10th American Le Mans Series victory for Highcroft. Brabham has been a part of each of those victories. A veteran of the series since its inception in 1999, Brabham has now won more ALMS races for Highcroft than any other team in his long and distinguished career.
On track action for round five of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón kicks off on Friday at 11:30am with the first of two one hour practice sessions. Qualifying takes place at 4:40pm.
The two hour, 45 minute American Le Mans Series North East Grand Prix at Lime Rock goes green at 2:05pm on Saturday (July 24).
"I am really looking forward to getting to Lime Rock. I've got some great memories from our home track and the car has always been competitive there.
"We had a great win there in 2008 and could have won again in 2009 if not for a late race puncture and it is the home track for the Highcroft team so it is a very important race for us.
"The team has done extremely well in the past three races this season and we have to continue that, although the rule adjustments that have been made of late seem to be helping everybody except us.
"That has been making it more of a challenge for us and we are now focusing fully on this weekend and just like every other race - we just have to make sure we execute our game perfectly.
"Teamwork is the real key to success. We've had some new people join the team this year including Simon and our Engineering Director, Will Phillips, and sometimes that takes a while for everyone to gel together.
"But, when you see the way the team connects like Highcroft has this year, the overall chemistry is really superb.
"That has really shown in the way the team is operating, particularly in the pit stops.
"The race at Lime Rock will of course be very busy because it is narrow and such a short circuit.
"Every race is always a challenge with traffic. We know that is going to be the case and the important thing is not to dwell on it, but to just get on with the job."
"Lime Rock is always an interesting place and obviously very different from the last race at Salt Lake City in so many aspects.
"The landscape is totally different and the racetrack is completely the opposite as well. It is a very twisty track with lots of corners that, on paper, should suit our car much better.
"But I wouldn't say we would be the only contender here. The Porsche RS Spyder was given a major weight break by IMSA for the last race and that should really help them at Lime Rock.
"They will be very strong here and for Highcroft, the Lime Rock event is our home race and that obviously adds a lot of pressure as well.
"This weekend will certainly be a very big challenge. The guys are working hard on fine-tuning our new aero package and hopefully we can tweak it and make it work around Lime Rock.
"That will be very important in the braking areas and in some of the slow corners.
"Traffic can make a major impact on your racecraft here. Pace in qualifying is important, but your race performance is critical because of the close speeds between the classes.
"Having a very easy car to drive is going to be important and you need a very reactive chassis to be able to change direction if you need.
"There are a lot of combinations that we will have to get right to make sure we are at the top of our game.
"For our championship hopes the team has done a brilliant job to get us back into the lead after pit stops and that has been a strength of the team. It will be important to continue that to stretch our lead."
MALARIA NO MORE
While the team continues the race to retain its ALMS title crown in 2010, the team will also continue its race to defeat an even bigger rival - malaria deaths in Africa.
Patrón Highcroft Racing has again teamed up with Malaria No More to raise funds and awareness for this disease which kills a child every 30 seconds in Africa. The team also ran a special Malaria No More livery at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to promote the cause.
With the purchase of a simple $10 mosquito bed net, fans can help combat this disease - either by visiting www.milestoendmalaria.org or just texting the word "MILES" to 85944 on their cell phone. Fans can also bid for exclusive autographed souvenirs and unique at-track experiences at www.milestoendmalaria.org/auction.
DRIVER'S EYE - LIME ROCK PARK
Q. Lime Rock, what is your favorite corner and why?
DAVID BRABHAM: Probably Turn one is my favorite corner. I did a great pass around the outside of Timo Bernhard to win a race there a couple of years ago. It was our first overall win.
It's a great, challenging corner. You can go so deep in there. Now that they've resurfaced that part of the track, it's a great challenge to be able to go in there as fast as possible.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Lime Rock is a strange track. It's very tight, very intense. I would say Turn one is a very fast corner where you really have to throw yourself into, and just your trust is going to make it through OK.
Q. What's the most challenging aspect of the Lime Rock race?
DAVID BRABHAM: The most challenging aspect is the traffic, because it's very tight in terms of width. Going through the chicanes is very tight and narrow. And traffic is the biggest issue there. A lot of people have a lot of damage at that track.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Definitely the traffic. It's really narrow. You really feel like you're doing many, many, many laps during the race, as it is a short track. And you're seeing a lot of GT car every lap, and you just need to remain focused and make sure you're not losing concentration in the car or you make a mistake.
Q. What's the secret of a good lap at Lime Rock Park?
DAVID BRABHAM: Definitely because it's such a short circuit, you've got to have a really good setup. It's very difficult to drag a car around there without a reasonable setup.
We've always been fast there and, you know, have always been on the front row. So we've got a good idea about what's needed there. And it's a lot of fun when you get it right.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Being very aggressive, braking very late and putting the power down very early. Being aggressive is a key there.
Q. How do you expect the Patrón Highcroft car to go against the opposition at Lime Rock?
DAVID BRABHAM: I think this will definitely be one of our strongest circuits. The car has to be very nimble and we've got good downforce, We've been very strong here in the past and I think we'll be strong again.
SIMON PAGENAUD: At Lime Rock I think we've got a very good package, our light weight and good downforce level should help us compared to the bigger cars, for example. I think that's the best package you could get as a lightweight car.
Q. If you could make a change to the circuit, what would it be?
DAVID BRABHAM: If I wanted to make a change, I'd probably get rid of the last chicane and go back to the old corner to make it a bit quicker. The second chicane's too tight.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I would try to make it longer with more fluid corners. It is absolutely beautiful area inConnecticut. So I think they could do a great track in the area.
Q. What's your favorite Lime Rock memory?
DAVID BRABHAM: Definitely my favorite memory was when we took our first overall win. We had a great battle throughout the race and were able to get into the lead. But then we nearly ran out of fuel at the finish. When we won the race it was such a big achievement for the team. To be able to beat the opposition there and get our first overall win was brilliant.
SIMON PAGENAUD: It's a very strange feeling about last year's race. At de Ferran Motosport, we had the race in hand and all of a sudden everything switched when Highcroft Racing did a great job calling that pit stop and changing only two wheels. The team got caught out, to be honest.
De Ferran got a little bit lucky when David had that puncture on the rear tire, so we could get the lead back. So it's a mixed feeling. We had a very good start in the race had a huge shock and then ended up winning anyway.