David Brabham delivered a solid final qualifying session of the season for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, to put Patron Highcroft Racing third fastest in LMP2 ahead of tomorrow's 1000mile/10hour showdown, as Brabham bids for back-to-back American...
David Brabham delivered a solid final qualifying session of the season for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, to put Patron Highcroft Racing third fastest in LMP2 ahead of tomorrow's 1000mile/10hour showdown, as Brabham bids for back-to-back American Le Mans Series championship crowns.
Patron Highcroft Racing has featured strongly in every track session at Road Atlanta. Marino Franchitti opened proceedings in testing on Wednesday by setting the fastest LMP2 time in the HPD prototype.
Simon Pagenaud followed suit, posting the quickest class time in Thursday's first practice. The team elected to miss the afternoon session to fit the race gearbox and suspension components - a wise move as heavy rain saw only nine cars attempting to endure the damp conditions.
Brabham capped off a positive practice day for the team yesterday, clocking up the best LMP2 time during his stint in the two hour night session.
The reigning champions continued their consistent form during final practice this morning before Brabham undertook the last qualifying honours of the season.
Immediately on the LMP2 pace once again, Brabham's times tumbled throughout the 25-minute session. Featuring as high as fifth overall, he pushed to record the ARX-01c's fastest time of the week so far and broke into the 1 minute 10 second margin within five flying laps.
The Australian improved further still, his best lap around the 2.54 mile circuit stopping the clocks at 1:10.661 - less than one tenth of a second behind the then LMP2 pole sitting CytoSport Porsche.
Content with his afternoon's work, Brabham retired to the pits with 12 minutes remaining. His position on the timing sheets only changed when Guy Smith snatched pole, pushing Brabham down to third.
Regardless, with just eight laps completed against Smith's 13 and the 10 laps recorded by the Porsche of championship rival Klaus Graf, Brabham and Highcroft's smart strategy will ensure their tyres are best conserved for race day tomorrow.
A 16 point lead heading into Saturday's race - the final round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron - means Brabham and Patron Highcroft Racing only need to complete 70% of the race distance to take the drivers, teams and manufacturers championship crowns for the second consecutive year.
The team is also in the running to claim the prototype class in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge environmental award.
"I'm really happy with our performance in qualifying today, particularly as we weren't really focussing too much on qualifying but very much on the race. So to be only a couple tenths behind is closer than I thought we would be," said Brabham.
"The Highcroft crew gave me a great car and I had a lot of confidence in it. I pushed as much as I could at the time and I'm pleased with third in class.
"The car is in great shape and we go into the race with a lot of momentum. The plan was always just to do a short qualifying run and not to over stress the tyres or the car, as what we qualify with we race with.
"Under normal circumstances we might have gone out and pushed some more, but that again demonstrates that our eye is on the bigger picture and the championship spoils.
"Marino, Simon and I are all very happy with the car. They both contributed greatly to the car setup and the entire team is working really well together.
"There's a great mood in the Highcroft team at the moment. I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow and getting the job done. This is what we have worked hard all year for. We've worked so hard for it and our reward will be the championship."
The 13th annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the final round of the 2010 season is set to go green at 11.30am (local time) tomorrow, Saturday, October 2.
-source: db PR