LIME ROCK HEARTBREAK FOR HIGHCROFT HOMETOWN HEROES LAKEVILLE, CT, Saturday, July 24, 2010: Patron Highcroft's run of three consecutive American Le Mans Series victories came to an end at Lime Rock Park after the team was a victim of a late race...
LIME ROCK HEARTBREAK FOR HIGHCROFT HOMETOWN HEROES
LAKEVILLE, CT, Saturday, July 24, 2010: Patron Highcroft's run of three consecutive American Le Mans Series victories came to an end at Lime Rock Park after the team was a victim of a late race puncture for a second year in a row.
The tight confines of the Lime Rock Park circuit produces plenty of contact and subsequently, plenty of on-track debris.
Debris struck the team again today - mirroring their late puncture that pushed the hometown team back to second place in 2009.
David Brabham was closing onto the tail of leader Klaus Graf today with 15 minutes remaining when on-car telemetry alerted the team of a deflating tire.
The slow leak wasn't hindering Brabham's progress who made a move for the lead on the front straight with 10 minutes to go while fighting through traffic.
In defending his lead, Graf made contact with Brabham, forcing the Australian onto the grass.
Both drivers were forced to head to pit lane - Brabham to replace the right rear Michelin that had now deflated, and Graf for a stop-go penalty for the contact.
Lime Rock Brabham's slow in-lap took him and teammate Simon Pagenaud out of contention for the win.
The forced off-track excursion had dislodged the debris that was stuck in the tire - causing the deflation.
Simon Pagenaud started the race for Patron Highcroft Racing from the pole but the straight-line speed disadvantage endured by the team resulted in him being fourth at the first turn.
By lap 22 however, the Frenchman was into the lead - a position he held for the duration of his mammoth 93-lap stint.
Brabham climbed aboard with one hour, nine minutes remaining and set chase after Graf who stopped for fuel four minutes later.
While the gap grew to as much as 21 seconds at one stage, Brabham was on the charge towards the end - setting the fastest lap of the race as he aimed to repeat his 2008 Lime Rock victory - a win where he also hunted down a Porsche RS Spyder.
Patron Highcroft Racing retains its lead in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron LMP championship - holding a seven-point advantage with four races remaining.
The team will now set its sights on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in two weeks time - doing battle on August 7.
"Congratulations to Greg and Klaus and the Muscle Milk guys - they did a great job today and Klaus drove the wheels off it.
"He has really come on in the past few years and I don't think he gets enough credit for his talent. I was certainly keen to get past him but it wasn't to be.
"At the end our car was getting better and better while they seemed to be slowing down.
"I managed to save the tires towards the end of the race and was just reeling him in.
"The telemetry showed we had a slow leak in the right rear and we were hoping it was going to last but it wasn't to be.
"Klaus and I were out there fighting it out for the championship and the win. We had our little issue on the straight but the tire went down after we clashed and I went off the road.
"It was a fantastic battle. Some of these races do amaze me because in the first part it doesn't look like it is going to be much of a battle, then all of a sudden it's game on.
"We're racing for a championship out there and we still finished with a strong points haul. We had lots of guests from Patron and GE with us today and I think they are pretty happy with a great race."
"It was certainly a challenging race out there. David did a fantastic phenomenal stint - he put in a great drive.
"We got unlucky with that puncture at the end because Klaus got a stop-go penalty for blocking us.
"It should have been a good win but sometimes these things happen. "Sometimes you have to take the second place points for the championship and today was one of those days.
"We didn't have the best package at the start of the race and we have to work very hard because the way the regulations are at the moment.
"The weight break the Porsche got from Salt Lake onwards makes a big difference around here - especially accelerating out the slow chicanes. There is a lot of time to be made there.
"It was a great job from the entire team today. We could have won but we'll be satisfied with second and lets move on to Mid-Ohio and Road America where I think we should be quite strong."
-source: highcroft racing