Road America: Acura preview

ACURA'S VETERAN LINEUP BRINGS ROAD AMERICA EXPERIENCE FOR FAST AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES ROAD RACING ACTION Four Strong Acura Teams Primed For Wild Action In Generac 500 ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The Acura sports car lineup brings...

Four Strong Acura Teams Primed For Wild Action In Generac 500

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The Acura sports car lineup brings plenty of Road America experience to the famed four-mile road circuit on Aug. 8-9 for the Generac 500 road racing classic, the seventh stop on the 11-race American Le Mans Series campaign.

Four superb driver combinations will drive the highly-technical Acura ARX-01b prototype sports cars in the four-hour endurance contest set for 4 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday, Aug. 9.

Leading the Acura contingent will be two-time 2008 ALMS winners David Brabham, a former Road America winner in the GT-1 class in 2003, and his teammate Scott Sharp, a two-time Road America titlist in Trans-Am in 1991 and 1993, in the potent No. 9 LMP2 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b prototype machine. Brabham, a defending two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class champion, has made two sensational late-race passes on the Penske Porsches to win the LMP2 class at Long Beach and the overall win at Lime Rock Park.

Now, with two wins and a pole already in six races, Brabham and Sharp seek another triumph at the demanding Road America course. The Lime Rock triumph was Acura's first overall ALMS win.

But the Patron Highcroft duo won't be the only Acura squad challenging at Elkhart Lake.

Former Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran comes back to the popular Wisconsin racing facility for the first time since the 2001 CART event. The two-time CART champion retired from the cockpit in 2003 after winning his final race at Texas. After serving as the sporting director for Honda Formula One for three years, de Ferran decided to form his own racing operation and teamed with Acura. De Ferran, a seven-time Road America starter, also decided to return to driving as well as serving as team owner. Gil's new team made its ALMS debut in May at Utah.

De Ferran, who spent time n Wisconsin as a foreign exchange student at age 15, teamed with young French star Simon Pagenaud to place third in No. 66 Panasonic ELS Surround team's first race. De Ferran also won the overall pole at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago.

The famed Road America course will host a stellar field in the Generac 500 that includes Audi, Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda, Corvette and the Acura teams of Patron Highcroft Racing, de Ferran Motorsports, Lowe's Fernandez Racing and Andretti Green Racing.

The No. 15 Lowe's Acura contingent of Mexican driving stars Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz, who drove wheel-to-wheel with the winning Porsche throughout the 12 Hours of Sebring, have switched from the Lola chassis to the new Acura ARX-01b car in 2008 and shown impressive speed in 2008. Fernandez is a 12-time starter at Road America (finishing 2nd in CART in 2000) and Diaz won the Formula Atlantic race in 2002 at Elkhart Lake.

The Andretti Green Racing brings 24 Hours of Le Mans star Franck Montagny as the new primary driver of the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b at Mid-Ohio. Montagny, who placed second at Long Beach last April in the final Champ Car race, teams with young open-wheel James Rossiter, a former Honda F-1 test driver.


DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-0ba): "The Lime Rock was a big one. It was close to the team headquarters (in Danbury, CT) and Acura's first overall win. It has been good year so far for me with wins at Long Beach, Le Mans and Lime Rock. Long Beach was very special. To win there for Patron in their title race and in the backyard of Acura was big for our team. Winning in four ALMS classes is great for me but it doesn't mean as much as the effort that the team put forth. The Long Beach and Lime Rock wins was a very exciting for me and the rest of the team. Road America is a great track and I hope we can stand on the winner's podium there, too."

SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "To get the first overall win this year for Acura and Patron, it's a big accomplishment. This event will be the third different type of car I will have raced at Road America. I won the Trans-Am in 1991 and 1993 there. This Acura prototype is one of the best cars I have ever driven. It is sensational."

LUIS DIAZ: (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We are getting more comfortable with the new Acura chassis. This new Acura ARX-01b car has more downforce and handles better. We have been very competitive at the first few races this year but we have had some bad luck so far. We got third at Mid-Ohio and I hope we are a streak now. I won at Road America in 2002 in Formula Atlantic. I love that track."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "We are working on getting the Acura package and total Acura family stronger. We are learning a lot from every race, and I think we are making a lot of gains right now with our Acura engine and chassis. I have raced a lot at Road America and it is a great track. I was close to winning there in the open-wheel cars. But never did it. Now I want to get the Lowe's Acura in victory lane this year."

FRANCK MONTAGNY (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "We have not had much luck with the Andretti Green XM Acura yet. But this car is very fast and I think we can win at Road America. I am looking forward to racing at that track."

JAMES ROSSITER (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "I'm really looking forward to driving the XM Acura. AGR has a great history as a great team, so hopefully we can do some great things."

GIL de FERRAN (#66 Panasonic ELS Sound de Ferran Motosports Acura ARX-01b): "I'm having a great time driving a race car again. But in addition, I am enjoying the out of the cockpit activities as a team owner. It's been a very fun project. We are learning about sports car racing right now. It is different from open-wheel racing. But driving the prototypes is a lot like driving an open-wheel car. The car handles very similar to an Indy Car. This Acura is very close to a Formula One car with very high technology. It's fun to drive. We are ready for Elkhart Lake. Road America is one of my favorite circuits around the world. It is very much like tracks in Europe. It is a great driver's course. I am looking forward to getting back to that famous track."

SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 Panasonic ELS Sound de Ferran Motosports Acura ARX-01b): "I am thrilled to be a part of de Ferran Motorsports and to drive with a legend like Gil. It was exciting to compete with this team and compete in the American Le Mans Series. This series has some of the most sophisticated racing cars in the world. And there are some great drivers too. It is always fun to race at Road America."

-credit: acura motorsports

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Franck Montagny , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , James Rossiter , Simon Pagenaud
Teams HART