Road Atlanta: David Brabham preview

Brabham Bids For Back-To-Back Title Battle At Petit Le Mans London, UK -- Friday, September 24, 2010; David Brabham is preparing his bid to claim back-to-back American Le Mans Series titles with Patron Highcroft Racing as the 2010...

Brabham Bids For Back-To-Back Title Battle At Petit Le Mans

London, UK -- Friday, September 24, 2010; David Brabham is preparing his bid to claim back-to-back American Le Mans Series titles with Patron Highcroft Racing as the 2010 championship heads for the final round showdown - Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

A faultless run of podiums including three race victories, four second places and a third place finish have earned the reigning LMP1 champion, together with teammate Simon Pagenaud, a 16 point lead in the 2010 title battle.

The penultimate championship round at Mosport, Canada, last month saw Brabham celebrate his 100th ALMS race start in style, taking his eighth podium in as many rounds. Now Brabs is fully focussed on turning his 101st race outing into his second Series title in as many years.

Brabham was justifiably rewarded with his first ALMS crown in 2009, taking the LMP1 spoils after Highcroft Racing's mighty comeback -- building a completely new Acura ARX-02a following Scott Sharp's massive accident in Thursday testing at Petit Le Mans -- to seal the spoils with a final podium finish at Laguna Seca.

Once again in 2010, Brabham and Highcroft Racing's model consistent form has earned a deserved points advantage. However, once again not everything has gone their way with the Highcroft HPD car battling a straight line speed disadvantage compared to their more powerful LMP1, turbo-charged and weight advantaged rivals in the newly combined LMP category.

As a round of the ACO International Cup, the Road Atlanta season showdown will revert to the separate classes of LMP1 and LMP2. So regardless of the challenges experienced this year, Brabham and Patron Highcroft just need to complete 70 per cent of the 1000mile/10hour race to take the championship crown.

"Heading to Petit Le Mans with a points lead is nice but it doesn't change anything for us. The fundamentals for the final round are the same as any other," said Brabham.

"Ideally we want class pole position and to win P2, because if we do that we take the title. We will have that focus while being aware we don't need to put ourselves under any unnecessary pressure. If when we get to 70 per cent race distance we are in a position to fight for the win we will. The first step is to get through a clean race and pick up the points we need.

"This year, with the regulations as they have been, it hasn't always been easy for us. In fact, it's probably got a bit harder as the other teams have got better, but we have a job to do to clinch the championship and that is the priority.

"We know the CytoSport Porsche has always been slightly quicker than us there so we don't expect anything different. They still have a 25 kilo advantage over us so that means they will be even faster. But we know what we're up against and will try and maximize what we can.

"We go back to LMP1 and LMP2 classes at Road Atlanta. I think it's a very difficult balance for the organizers to adjust the rules where P1 and P2 have some sort of equal balance. It's a hard ask and we don't feel the rules went in our favour.

"The reason we are leading the championship is down to the fact we had such a strong start to the season before the other teams really got their acts together. Highcroft Racing has done a cracking job to get us on the podium every race. You don't get those results without proper preparation and that's where Highcroft excel.

"For the last few rounds we've run very little downforce to try and get more speed on the straight but we have struggled on cornering speed, cleaning the tyres and things like that. The approach for Petit will be to run with a bit more downforce to make the car a bit safer and give us a bigger window of grip. We may not be as quick on the straights, but looking at the big picture we don't need to be.

"Obviously we work towards back-to-back titles. Highcroft set very high standards at the beginning of the year of what we wanted to achieve, as they have done since the beginning. Just look at their record of being the best Acura team, against some pretty impressive competition, to win the championship last year. Highcroft are setting the standard in sportscar racing and will continue to do so because they are one of the best teams out there."

As well as racing for a second championship crown at Road Atlanta, Brabham is also in the hunt to win the Series' Most Popular Driver award -- an accolade he last claimed in 2008.

After three weeks of fans voting Brabham has graduated to the final round of nine drivers, alongside teammate Pagenaud.

Fans can vote at until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 26 - coinciding with the start of race week for the 13th annual Petit Le Mans.

On-track action starts with testing at Road Atlanta on Wednesday, September 29, followed by three practice sessions including night practice on Thursday. Additional practice on Friday afternoon will precede qualifying at 3:50pm (local time). The green flag will fall on the 2010 season finale -- Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2 - at 11:15am on Saturday, October 2.


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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Simon Pagenaud