PATRÃ“N HIGHCROFT THIRD ON THE GRID IN MOSPORT QUALIFYING BATTLE Mosport BOWMANVILLE, ON, Saturday, August 28, 2010: PatrÃ³n Highcroft Racing's Simon Pagenaud put the team's HPD ARX-01c third on the grid for tomorrow's penultimate round of the...
PATRÓN HIGHCROFT THIRD ON THE GRID IN MOSPORT QUALIFYING BATTLE
Mosport BOWMANVILLE, ON, Saturday, August 28, 2010: Patrón Highcroft Racing's Simon Pagenaud put the team's HPD ARX-01c third on the grid for tomorrow's penultimate round of the American Le Mans Series after a classic qualifying battle at Canada's Mosport International Raceway.
The team is running its Le Mans 24 Hour-spec aero kit for the second race in a row to combat the straight line speed disadvantage to the turbo powered machines and LMP1 spec entries.
Pagenaud, teammate David Brabham and the Highcroft engineers spent the two practice sessions searching for mechanical grip and chassis balance to offset the downforce deficit.
In qualifying the Frenchman strung together a series of consecutively faster laps - on several occasions holding the fastest time only to be bumped back seconds later by the 25kg lighter Porsche RS Spyder of championship rival, Klaus Graf.
After eventually dropping his time down to 1 minute, 7.228 seconds, Pagenaud and the team elected to park the car early - saving the tires and machinery for tomorrow's race.
Mosport The team finished .272 of a second off pole position with David Brabham scheduled to start his 100th ALMS race tomorrow right behind the CytoSport Porsche.
Brabham and Pagenaud will be looking to extend Patrón Highcroft Racing's recent Mosport performances - a class win in 2008 and an overall victory last year.
This weekend 43 years ago, David's father Sir Jack Brabham also won the first Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix here at Mosport.
Further significant celebrations for the weekend include the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Mosport track and also Highcroft Racing's 50th American Le Mans Series race.
Brabham and Pagenaud will be looking to extend the current points advantage in the combined LMP1/LMP2 championship. The Australian/French combination is currently 20 points clear of Klaus Graf.
"That was all she had - I went as fast as the HPD would go. The Patrón Highcroft team really did a great job setting up the car for qualifying.
"Considering we are running Le Mans-spec downforce it is amazing that we are so fast in the corners.
"I think we should be good in the race and I'm very happy with the consistency of the car. It is looking very promising for tomorrow and I'm very proud of what the guys achieved.
"This morning we struggled a little bit and the car wouldn't give us any trust. This morning David was able to provide plenty of good feedback and when I got in this afternoon we had made some great strides forward.
"We trimmed it out a little bit more in qualifying and we were very fast. We had too much understeer in the high-speed corners this morning but this afternoon it was a lot more neutral.
"I really had fun out there and I'm very pleased the guys were able to rise to the challenge in further improving this aero package.
"Endurance racing is not about that single lap. Tomorrow is a long race with a lot of traffic from different classes. We are working with a package that should be really good in traffic.
"We have a 20 point lead in the championship and maintaining or increasing that tomorrow is very important."
"Although we didn't get pole I'm a little surprised we got as close as we did.
"Simon did a great job and the whole Patrón Highcroft team have worked very hard on getting the car right with this aero package.
"I think tomorrow is going to be one hell of a race just like last weekend.
"We have good straight line speed but I don't think we will be able to put that to good use off the start like Road America. We really have to wait until the back straight so at the start it will be important to get temperature in the Michelin tires through the opening corners and hang with the front row until we get to the back straight.
"We are going to have to wait and see. It is still a bit unknown for us. The speed in qualifying was great but we have to have a fast and consistent car in the race.
"From what Simon says it looks like we have made a big step forward.
"I've got my 100th race coming up tomorrow and to be honest I have to put that aside and get my race head on.
"There is a lot going on with the 50th anniversary of Mosport, Highcroft's 50th ALMS race and my Dad winning here 43 years ago - but we need to keep our eye on the task at hand as we have a big job to concentrate on."
-source: highcroft racing