PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING KICKS OFF THREE RACE AUGUST CHALLENGE DANBURY, CT, Friday, July 31, 2009: After having home-town glory snatched from its grasp with only 12 minutes remaining at Lime Rock Park, Patron Highcroft Racing has its sights set...
PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING KICKS OFF THREE RACE AUGUST CHALLENGE
DANBURY, CT, Friday, July 31, 2009: After having home-town glory snatched from its grasp with only 12 minutes remaining at Lime Rock Park, Patron Highcroft Racing has its sights set on returning to victory lane at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for next week's sixth round of the American Le Mans Series.
After clever pit strategy put Scott Sharp and David Brabham into the race lead at Lime Rock, a late race puncture pushed the Danbury, CT-based squad back to second place at the checkered flag.
The team is now looking to put that result behind them as they head to the Ohio venue where they finished as the top Acura squad in the LMP2 class in 2008.
After spoiling the party last year for the Penske Porsche squad at Long Beach and Lime Rock with late race passes for the lead in the closing minutes of both races - Patron Highcroft Racing's David Brabham looked set to do it again at Mid-Ohio last year only to suffer a half spin while chasing down the race leader in the dying moments of the race
Patron Bee However, the Mid-Ohio venue has been a happy hunting ground for both Sharp and Brabham in years gone by - the track playing a pivotal role in Sharp's Tran-Am Championship successes and Brabham scoring an overall American Le Mans Series victory for Panoz Motorsport in 2001.
The Mid-Ohio event - the Acura Sports Car Challenge - kicks off a vital three races in four-week schedule for Patron Highcroft Racing. After Mid-Ohio, the team will head to the longest track on the American Le Mans Series circuit the following weekend - Elkhart Lake's Road America.
Two weeks later, it will be time to head north of the border for the annual foray into Canada at the historic Mosport International Raceway - the former home of the Canadian Grand Prix.
Patron Highcroft Racing clinched LMP2 victories at both Road America and Mosport in 2008.
At the half way point of the 2009 American Le Mans Series LMP1 Championship, Patron Highcroft Racing holds a 13-point lead.
Another important milestone has also been reached in the 2009 title chase - the team's Miles to End Malaria partnership with Malaria No More has crossed the $30,000 mark.
After having completed 2028 miles in American Le Mans Series competition this year, the team has raised $31,918.56 to fund mosquito nets to save lives from malaria in Africa. Fans can join this important race at www.milestoendmalaria.org
"Luck hasn't been on our side but we can't dwell on that - the team executed the perfect strategy at Lime Rock and put us in the lead. We just have to focus on continuing to do everything right and wins will come.
"Our eye is on the championship prize, but we have to keep our focus on all the little things - we've put a lot of attention on things like driver changes. We're looking to gain seconds wherever we can. You add up all those seconds and the wins and the championship will take care of themselves.
"We came very close to taking a win here at Mid-Ohio last year and I am really looking forward to going back.
"This is a track where I have had a lot of success in the past - especially back in the Trans-Am days.
"It is certainly a very technical track with an extensive variety of corners - this place really has a little bit of everything and I think the Acura ARX-02a should be very rewarding to drive here."
"We had a very strong performance at Lime Rock Park and on the back of that, I am really looking forward to heading to Mid Ohio.
"It is a little tight and twisty, but there are a lot of corners which are very challenging with some good elevation changes and blind corners as well.
"It really is the type of circuit where you have to have the car working really well but you can also really hustle the car around the track and get a lot of reward.
"The entire track is a lot of fun. There are fast sections, twisty sections, parts where the car gets quite light - it is one of those tracks which has a bit of everything.
"It is a very scenic venue and Mid-Ohio always attracts a good knowledgeable crowd who really enjoy their sportscar racing.
"We had some bad luck at Lime Rock but we have to focus and keep doing everything right.
"We had a good look at ourselves after Salt Lake City and examined every area where we could improve. Those improvements put us in a winning position at Lime Rock, only for bad luck to intervene."
SCOTT SHARP AT MID-OHIO
What is your favorite corner and why?
"The final Carousel corner that leads onto the front straight would be my favorite at Mid Ohio.
"It is a corner that is much faster than it looks. When you get it right you can gain a huge amount of time in that section of the track.
"I really enjoy how it throws you onto the front straight."
What is the most challenging aspect of Mid Ohio?
"Mid-Ohio is one of the most technical circuits in the United States. It has such a variety of corners - uphill, downhill, cambered, off-cambered, different types of surface, grip level - from both a driving and set-up perspective it is very rough.
"You have to have a car that is well balanced in every type of circumstance.
"It is very easy to overdrive the track as you can find yourself going slower.
"You need to have that calm rhythm."
What is the secret to a good lap at Mid Ohio?
"Having the car that will work in a variety of corners is the secret.
"There are so many longer corners, or downhill off-camber corners where the car doesn't really want to turn that well.
"Making the car that will work in those corners but then is not too loose in some of the higher speed sections is really critical.
"Getting into the flow is vital - you have to push hard but not too aggressively."
If you could make a change to the circuit, what would it be?
"I pretty much like Mid-Ohio as it is. There are certain parts of the track where if you get stuck in traffic you can be stuck there for a while.
"You'd like to see more passing opportunities but sometimes you can use that to your benefit.
"It is such a classic track I would hate to see it changed."
What is your favorite memory of Mid Ohio?
"Back to the early days I ran there quite a lot and clinched quite a number of championships at Mid Ohio.
"I had some great Trans-Am battles there back in the day."