PATRÃ“N HIGHCROFT BATTLE TO KEEP PERFECT PODIUM STREAK ALIVE Mosport BOWMANVILLE, ON, Sunday, August 29, 2010: PatrÃ³n Highcroft Racing kept its perfect podium season intact with second place today at the latest round of the American Le Mans...
PATRÓN HIGHCROFT BATTLE TO KEEP PERFECT PODIUM STREAK ALIVE
Mosport BOWMANVILLE, ON, Sunday, August 29, 2010: Patrón Highcroft Racing kept its perfect podium season intact with second place today at the latest round of the American Le Mans Series at Canada's Mosport International Raceway.
David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud will now only need to finish 6th or better in the LMP2 class at the final race of the year at Petit Le Mans to clinch back-to-back championships for the Danbury, Connecticut-based squad.
After eight races in 2010, the Highcroft team has been a model of consistency with three wins, four second places and a single third place finish.
While the team was pleased with another strong points tally today, if it wasn't for a fortunate run with safety cars, quick thinking on mid race car changes and a great run through traffic by Pagenaud - the team would have actually finished the race more than a lap adrift of its chief title rival - the Porsche RS Spyder of Klaus Graf.
Joined by Romain Dumas for this weekend, Graf's Porsche has enjoyed a 25kg weight break since the third round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
That performance advantage came to the fore here at Mosport where the Porsche was fastest in every session, led every lap and came close to lapping the entire field.
David Brabham began the race in his 100th ALMS start and actually moved up a spot early from third with the Dyson Mazda starting from the back of the grid due to having to change two tires.
Off the start however, the Highcroft squad struggled with the car set-up in the opening stint - Brabham dropping back and eventually falling to fourth.
Mosport He moved back to second after stops by Chris Dyson and Jon Field and headed for the pits himself on lap 52 to swap for Simon Pagenaud.
The team made tire pressure changes and a rear wing adjustment on the stop and temporarily dropped a lap to the race leader.
One minute later, the yellow flag safety car period the team was looking for finally appeared. Dumas pitted from the lead under yellow and Pagenaud was able to get the lap back - but was only a handful of cars ahead in the restart line.
After a long 17 minute yellow, the race restarted with Pagenaud holding off Graf to stay on the same lap.
The duo waged a battle through traffic with the Frenchman using the straight-line speed advantage of the low downforce Le Mans aero kit of the HPD ARX-01c to keep the Porsche at bay.
With 46 minutes to go, the Highcroft team got luckier with a yellow flag and Pagenaud was able to drive around to the back of the pack as the pacecar picked up Graf.
Both made their final pitstops, Graf taking fuel only and Pagenaud armed for the final fight with fuel and new Michelin tires.
If the race had restarted, Pagenaud would have only been three cars behind Graf on the start with plans to use his fresh rubber to try and chase down the title rival.
However, the source of the yellow - a huge crash by Porsche GTC driver Luke Hines after contact with the Drayson Lola on the back straight - inflicted severe damage on the back straight safety fence.
After a long red flag delay, the race came to an end early with a single safety car lap with track safety crews unable to repair the damage in time.
While Highcroft was unable to continue their Mosport winning streak from 2008 and 2009, the team did collect its third MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge award for the season.
The environmental award rewards teams who deliver the best overall performance, fuel efficiency, and smallest environmental impact throughout the race. Patrón Highcroft Racing also lead the overall season tally for the environment award.
Patrón Highcroft Racing will now set its sights on the final round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón - the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The event will also be a round of the ACO Intercontinental Cup with the class system of combined LMP1/LMP2 divisions reverting to separate classes for this race.
While being classified sixth or better in the LMP2 class will send the crown to Danbury for the second year in a row, the team basically has to complete 70 percent of the 10 hour/1000 mile event to be classified as a points finisher.
Petit Le Mans will be staged on October 2.
"It was a very difficult race for us. David had a big job at the start because the car wasn't handling very well and thanks to him he helped us to make changes for my stint.
"After the changes, the car was quite decent for me and I was able to hold off the leader and get back on the lead lap but the red flag came and I didn't get a chance to take a shot at the win.
"I had new Michelin rubber at the end and I thought we might have had a chance but we never got going again.
"With what happened in the race, I think second is a good result and to head into Petit Le Mans with a 16 point margin which is a very good cushion and hopefully we can win our class at Petit Le Mans on a fair and level playing field.
"It's nice to come away with the Green X Challenge win for the third time this year - we're leading the points tally in that championship as well."
"It was a tough stint for me at the start. It was a big challenge to maintain grip through the lap and when it did drop off, it dropped off a lot.
"That is something that we need to understand because it cost us a lot of time out there.
"It was just a case of trying to not go off the track but it was a fantastic recovery by the boys to make tire pressure and rear wing changes for Simon and we were in pretty good shape behind the Muscle Milk car.
"Simon had done a great job holding Klaus off before the safety car and he was a lot more happy with the balance of the car.
"We just wanted that little bit more grip. We were in a pretty good position at the end but fortunately Luke Hines was able to climb out of that horrible accident OK.
"We're doing everything we need to do to win this championship. We need to keep finishing and finishing well. Second is great here today and we have a lot of data and information that we can carry into Petit for the setup and hopefully go out with a win."
-source: highcroft racing