HEARTBREAK FOR THE PATRON HIGHCROFT HOME TEAM AT LIME ROCK PARK Double Shot of Patron LAKEVILLE, CT, Friday, July 17, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing came within 12 minutes of victory after a titanic battle in the latest round of the American Le...
HEARTBREAK FOR THE PATRON HIGHCROFT HOME TEAM AT LIME ROCK PARK
Double Shot of Patron LAKEVILLE, CT, Friday, July 17, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing came within 12 minutes of victory after a titanic battle in the latest round of the American Le Mans Series at Lime Rock Park today.
With David Brabham at the wheel, the #9 Acura ARX-02a held a lead of more than eight seconds when a late race pit stop to replace a punctured left hand rear tire ruined the team's hopes of back to back Lime Rock victories.
Brabham grabbed the lead after the team executed a clever second pit stop - electing to change left side Michelin tires only. With the majority of the Lime Rock track featuring right hand turns, the left hand tires receive the toughest punishment.
The shorter pit stop enabled the Danbury-CT based squad to leap frog de Ferran Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud and open up a handy lead with fresh left side tires.
Things were looking strong for the team's second victory of the season before the puncture forced the additional stop.
Scott Sharp started the race for Patron Highcroft Racing and made an initial strong start to beat Gil de Ferran off the final turn, only for race officials to call a non start.
With traffic playing a huge role in the event, the gap between de Ferran and Sharp swung between 10-15 seconds and 100ths of a second.
Both Sharp and de Ferran pitted under the first yellow flag after 71 laps to hand over to their respective co-drivers. Sharp had closed the gap at that stage to be right on the tail of de Ferran.
Despite one attempted pass in turn one through traffic, Brabham was unable to steal the lead until pitting three laps later than Pagenaud and executing the left side tires only strategy.
After five rounds of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, Patron Highcroft Racing leads the LMP1 championship by 13 points.
It was a day of double runner up positions for the Tequila Patron brand at Lime Rock today. Porsche drivers Ed Brown and Bill Sweedler also finished second in the ALMS Challenge class today aboard their Patron Porsche.
The Patron Highcroft Racing squad will now set its sights on the next round of the series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 8.
"Everyone did what they needed to do today - Brabs did a great job, the team made an incredible strategy call to leap frog us into the lead and from there we had it in hand. "No one expected that with 12 minutes to go we would get a puncture in the left rear and there was no way to fight back from that. "The traffic out there was just crazy. It really is amazing there weren't more yellows. There were clusters of cars everywhere, people going off, dragging mud back onto the track. "There was a lot of bumping and shoving but the bigger shunts I expected didn't happen. "We tightened things up to the de Ferran car this weekend after a bit of a struggle at Salt Lake City. "You hate to give the points away here and the same and Long Beach. That is two races that we should have won. But it is what it is and we now have to set our sights on Mid-Ohio."
"Today was a bit of a roller coaster of a day but I am not too disappointed because we did everything we needed to do in this race. "We got ourselves in front and I had the race under control but unfortunately I got a puncture and when the competition is that close you can't afford to have anything like that happen. "Well done to de Ferran Motorsports. They were in position to take advantage of what happened. "The team did a brilliant job and made a great tire choice to get into the lead. We still got second, we still got points and we're still in the lead of the championship so we have to look at all the positives and look at how we can improve going forward. "Salt Lake City we were a little too far off on the set-up of the car. When we arrived here we were pretty close. We had to fine tune things a little - it wasn't 100 percent right for qualifying - but the car was pretty good in the race."