Patron Highcroft Racing's dominant LMP2 victory in last night's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta clinched back-to-back drivers, teams and manufacturers American Le Mans Series championship titles. David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino...
Patron Highcroft Racing's dominant LMP2 victory in last night's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta clinched back-to-back drivers, teams and manufacturers American Le Mans Series championship titles.
David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti's victory sealed Brabham's second consecutive driver's title, Pagenaud's first, a second consecutive teams' crown for Highcroft and back-to-back awards for Honda Performance Development.
The victory was Brabham's second Petit Le Mans win following on from his win for Panoz in 1999 while Franchitti took back-to-back LMP2 victories after winning for Dyson Mazda in last year's event.
Simon Pagenaud started aboard the factory-backed HPD ARX-01c from eighth on the grid in front of a record crowd and quickly passed championship rival Klaus Graf on lap 2.
Road Atlanta He began his pursuit of the class leading Mazda of Chris Dyson and grabbed the lead when that team elected to pit on the first yellow flag after 19 minutes - a lead Highcroft were never to relinquish.
When Pagenaud made his first stop after 59 minutes, he was able to resume at the front of the LMP2 class pack.
He completed a double stint before handing over to Brabham. The team repeated this pattern in clockwork fashion by double-stinting the Michelin tires for the Australian, a double-stint for Franchitti, another double for Pagenaud and Brabham bringing the car home with a final double stint.
Throughout the 1000-mile journey, the team did not have to remove the engine cover once or repair any damage. The only maintenance required was to remove some track debris from the left front brake duct.
Road Atlanta By the checkered flag, Patron Highcroft Racing had finished a remarkable fourth overall and took the class victory by 11 laps. The team was the first full-time American Le Mans Series squad across the line - trailing the visiting LMP1 factory squads from Peugeot and Audi.
The result clinched the LMP drivers' championship for Brabham and Pagenaud by 20 points. Brabham also won last year's LMP1 drivers' title sharing with Scott Sharp.
Duncan Dayton's Patron Highcroft Racing became the first American-owned and based team to clinch two ALMS teams' championships in the outright prototype class.
In 2010, Highcroft scored four victories and finished on the podium in every single race. The team's third place finish at Road America was actually the only time it failed to finish first or second all year.
This season has actually been the most competitive season in American Le Mans Series history with five different teams taking race wins - Peugeot, Patron Highcroft, Muscle Milk Team CytoSport, Dyson Racing and Drayson Racing.
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Road Atlanta Team partner Honda Performance Development took both the engine and manufacturers' crown for the LMP class. HPD also won the LMP1 and LMP2 titles last season under the Acura brand - the first time any manufacturer had won two titles in two separate classes in the same year.
Highcroft's second title in conjunction with HPD continued a remarkable partnership that kicked off in 2007. In each season, the Danbury, CT-based squad has been the top performing HPD/Acura team - outscoring rivals Andretti Green, Fernandez and de Ferran Motorsports.
Over the four-year partnership, Highcroft has scored 44 per cent of HPD's wins (11 of 25), 39 per cent of the poles (nine of 23) and 34 per cent of the fastest laps (nine of 26)
Highcroft's performances on Michelin tires also spearheaded another tire championship for the Michelin Man - a title he has won in the overall ALMS class in every season since the championship's debut in 1999.
The engine, chassis, tire, team and driver combinations were not only fast, but environmentally efficient as well. Last night's result clinched the 2010 MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge environmental award for prototypes.
The Highcroft squad will now celebrate tonight at the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron championship banquet at the nearby Chateau Elan.
David Brabham DAVID BRABHAM "To be sitting here as double champion with the Patron Highcroft team is really amazing. Simon and Marino have done a stellar job all year and when you look back at all the races and see how hard the team has worked, it is very rewarding. "The car has run like clockwork the entire year. We've been on the podium in every race and I'd also like to commend the guys at CytoSport who pushed us very hard all season. Klaus, Greg and his entire team have been brilliant rivals. "It was really nice to be racing against those guys. This has been a really good year in the ALMS paddock. Everyone has got on very well out there on the track and showed each other a lot of respect. "I believed we might have seen a few more incidents out on track in Petit, but the race was very clean and that is a great way to finish the season."
Simon Pagenaud SIMON PAGENAUD "It has been a long season and it certainly hasn't been easy. Finishing here with a win at Petit Le Mans is great because this race is one of the big classics in endurance racing. "It is something very special. The team were fantastic all weekend and the HPD was almost like a video game to drive - it was very easy. "It is great to share the drivers' championship but I have to thank David Brabham and Marino Franchitti - without them I wouldn't be able to achieve this goal. "They are brilliant drivers and the chance to be their teammate has been fantastic - I have learned a lot. "It is a very emotional achievement and it is difficult to explain. We really did have a great day and a great year. "We didn't put a mark on the car all year and it has been very reliable. It is certainly wonderful to celebrate the championship.
Marino Franchitti MARINO FRANCHITTI "It is fantastic to finish the season like this. A big thanks goes to Duncan for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this team. "The Patron Highcroft team has been faultless all year and it is a real honor to race with Simon and David. "We have been a great trio and even though I have only been in for the long races, I have been at all the races and involved with everything so you certainly feel part of the championship. "I'm very proud of the guys for getting the drivers title and for me to win at Petit Le Mans again for the second year in a row is just fantastic. "My brother Dario just won the IndyCar Championship again last night as well so we certainly have a lot to celebrate. "It is a very emotional time and everybody is very proud of the achievements and I look forward to hopefully coming back next year and doing some more."
Duncan Dayton DUNCAN DAYTON "It has been a remarkable year and I am very proud of the entire team. "After last year's championship, we really didn't want to be a one and done type of team but with the way the rules worked this year with the performance balancing really didn't favor us. "We switched to the low downforce configuration for Salt Lake City to gain some straight line speed. "It was a calculated gamble which paid off there but not at a couple of places. "We knew if we put our heads down and battled hard and tried to do the type of things we always do we would be here at the end. "Today is not only a fitting tribute to David, Simon and Marino who I think are the best drivers in the paddock, but also to the entire team who have worked tirelessly and provided us with a fault-free car all day. "The car ran perfectly like a BRM watch all day. We're very grateful to finish the season this way with a win and claim our second title."