THE BRABHAM BLOGS: ON TO THE FINAL FIGHT On the verge of a second ALMS championship One race is all that separates David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Patron Highcroft Racing from the LMP championship in the American Le Mans Series presented by ...
THE BRABHAM BLOGS: ON TO THE FINAL FIGHT
On the verge of a second ALMS championship
One race is all that separates David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Patron Highcroft Racing from the LMP championship in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2 offers the stage on which all four Series titles will be decided. Here's how Brabham views the last two events of 2010.
I have to admit I didn't really think about the approach of my 100th ALMS race too much because - although it's a nice achievement - it's another race and we have our eyes on the championship title.
With that in mind, I was slightly taken aback at the amount of people who got involved in the celebrations at the penultimate Series round at Mosport, Canada, last month and the warmth toward me for that achievement. So in that regard it meant a lot to me and was a big deal.
It was a tough stint for me in the race itself. We were really bending the envelope in terms of straight line speed and cornering grip, and unfortunately we didn't quite get it right on my opening stint. We wore out the left-rear tire very, very quickly. It had no tread left on it when I stopped so I actually had to slow down a lot otherwise I would have crashed. It was that bad.
The guys did some adjustments in the pits with my feedback, cranking on a couple turns of rear wing and changing the tire pressures. We have seen the car is very sensitive to low downforce and the changes put us back in a position to at least fight, which we didn't have at the beginning.
The CytoSport Porsche was way too fast and I was losing grip every lap - it just got worse and worse. All of a sudden I found myself down the order so it was a great recovery by the team. The best thing to do was to manage the situation as best I could and to give the information back to the team for them to make the adjustments for Simon.
As the race progressed, just before the yellow came out for Luke Hines' heavy accident, we thought we were in a good position because we'd changed tires, where as the Porsche hadn't. That meant we would have had a lengthy yellow, tires would have got cold, the Porsche would have had more pickup on the tire and we were right behind it.
So we were quite looking forward to the finish, but there's no question that we couldn't race under those conditions as the track just wasn't safe. Regardless, another second place to add to our faultless run of podiums helps us to take a 16 point lead in to the season finale.
The final round of the American Le Mans Series - the 13th annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta - is now upon us and it's time for Patron Highcroft Racing to mount our championship assault.
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. 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 and 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 Porsche has always been slightly quicker than us there so we don't expect anything different. They still have a 25 kilo advantage 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 favor.
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 straights but we have struggled on cornering speed, cleaning the tires 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.
Taking the LMP1 title was a magnificent achievement last season and obviously we have been working towards taking 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 sports car racing and will continue to do so because they are one of the best teams out there.
Saturday's race is set for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 2. SPEED will air the race starting at 11 a.m., with live radio coverage available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche - a production of Radio Show Limited - as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242. Americanlemans.com will stream qualifying live starting at 3:15 p.m. ET on Friday, October 1. Visit the Series' schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com.