TRANSMISSION DRAMA ENDS PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING'S SEBRING ASSAULT SEBRING, FL, Saturday, March 21, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing's assault on the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring may have come up short, but the team still leaves the historic ...
TRANSMISSION DRAMA ENDS PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING'S SEBRING ASSAULT
SEBRING, FL, Saturday, March 21, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing's assault on the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring may have come up short, but the team still leaves the historic Florida venue with a handy points haul.
A transmission failure after 302 laps - 10 hours and 10 minutes into the race - left the team short of their goal of providing Acura with a race finish in the debut of the new ARX-02a LMP1 prototype.
However, as the team completed more than 70 per cent of the race winner's total number of laps, Patron Highcroft Racing still earned 18 points for fifth place.
David Brabham was at the wheel when he entered the pits after 302 laps but was unable to restart.
The team sent the car back to the Patron Highcroft Racing transporter only to find a terminal transmission problem.
During the second half of the race, the crew faced a number of extended stops to service the power steering system but once on track, the new Acura continued to record strong lap times.
While not making it to the finish, Brabham, Scott Sharp and Dario Franchitti's total of 302 laps kicked off an impressive debut total for Patron Highcroft Racing's partnership with Malaria No More.
With the team and Tequila Patron pledging $10 for every mile completed in the 2009 American Le Mans Series, today's Sebring result raised $11,174.00 to tackle malaria deaths in Africa.
More than 1,100 families in Africa will now be provided with mosquito nets to protect them from this disease.
Today's race was won by the Audi R15 of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello.
Patron Highcroft Racing will now set its sights on street racing success at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg in two weeks time.
The team has enjoyed strong podium success at the St. Petersburg venue over the past two years and will now be looking to continue that run of success.
"We didn't make it to the finish but I think it has been a success in a way because it was such a scramble to get the cars reliable and we had a pretty good solid run through the race.
"We had problem there right at the end but it is a new program and we are learning as we go along.
"There is a lot for us to learn with the new car in regards to the set-up, reliability, its tires - but we are going to come away from here knowing a whole lot more about our car.
"We now have a much clearer idea on what we need to do in regards to the set-up."
"It is tough on the boys because this team has put in so much effort over the past few months, especially in the last couple of weeks.
"We made great progress with the car compared to where we started on Monday. During the race we had some good flashes of speed despite a few little issues.
"At the end it looked like we were going to set for a strong finish which would have been great for Acura's LMP1 debut.
"Unfortunately, we had the transmission issue but for the overall program to have an Acura start from pole and run strongly in the race is a great start."
Dario Franchitti DARIO FRANCHITTI
"Towards the end of my last stint I started to get a really bad cramp in my back on the left side.
"I struggled a little because it was difficult to apply the required brake pressure but we were far enough into the window for me to hand over to David.
"I've had a blast this week and I love coming to Sebring. The Patron Highcroft guys have been amazing and I can't believe the amount of hours they have put in this week.
"It is so much fun to come here and go racing with them and I have to thank Duncan for letting me come here and play with the new toy."