Brabham Makes It Three In-A-Row At Miller Motorsports Park London, UK -- Sunday, July 11, 2010; David Brabham sealed a hat-trick of American Le Mans Series race victories in round four at Miller Motorsports Park, Utah, totalling 22 ALMS career...
Brabham Makes It Three In-A-Row At Miller Motorsports Park
London, UK -- Sunday, July 11, 2010; David Brabham sealed a hat-trick of American Le Mans Series race victories in round four at Miller Motorsports Park, Utah, totalling 22 ALMS career wins and further extending his championship lead at the top of the LMP title battle in the process.
Outstanding work from Brabham, teammate Simon Pagenaud and Patron Highcroft Racing turned one of the most challenging rounds of the season into another maximum points haul, repeating the team's winning streak seen at Long Beach and Laguna Seca.
Although running a new low downforce aero kit for the first time at an ALMS round, reigning champion Brabham rightly predicted the round four battle at Salt Lake City would be one of the toughest for Highcroft, with the high altitude track automatically favouring their turbo-powered counterparts.
That much was evident at the start of the 2 hours and 45-minute race as Brabham prepared to defend the pole position expertly gained by Pagenaud in qualifying. With the HPD ARX-01c at a disadvantage in straight-line speed, coupled with the lowest track temperature of the weekend affecting starting tyre temperatures, Brabham did well to hold on to fifth spot into turn 1.
His opening race, however, was hampered by two safety car periods in the first 15 minutes, the first occurring within four minutes of racing action just as Brabham recovered fourth place.
With the field closely bunched at each restart, his sterling efforts to stave off the more powerful competition paid off as the race began to settle. Finally able to run in clear track 30 minutes in, Brabham proved the Highcroft car's potential by clocking up the fastest time on lap 15.
He continued to mix it as one of the quickest cars on the track until traffic intervened and once again favoured the turbos. Regardless, Brabham chipped away at the eight second deficit to the third placed Lola Mazda of Chris Dyson, closing the gap to just over one second by the time the third full course caution presented the perfect opportunity to pit.
Brabham's charge proved to be perfectly timed as the Highcroft crew once again delivered one of their lightening trademark pitstops that saw Pagenaud leapfrog the field and take the lead under the safety car.
"At this altitude our normally aspirated engine was at a disadvantage, so we knew I'd get nailed at the start and that I just had to do my best to salvage the situation," said Brabham.
"I found the car a bit loose and the front tyres didn't come up to temperature. We didn't anticipate it being as cool as it was today and rain this morning made the track green, so it wasn't ideal conditions. But I was able to feed all that information back to the team so adjustments could be made for Simon in the pitstop.
"We knew the third safety car was our chance as the guys have been practicing pitstops and just getting faster and faster. Simon was able to leapfrog into the lead and we were left wondering what everyone else was doing. In a normal race we would have been another 10 seconds up the road."
Despite the Lola of Clint Field briefly snatching back the top spot at the restart, Pagenaud headed the LMP pack until Emanuele Pirro took the lead in the Drayson Lola but a turn perfect stint left the Frenchman ready to pounce as the class contenders made their final stops.
Lighter than the turbo cars, economy bore fruit as Pagenaud pushed to ensure the Highcroft car only needed a splash and dash fuel stop with 30minutes to go to retake and retain the lead to the chequered flag.
"It really was a cracking job by every member of the Highcroft team from the moment we got to Salt Lake City," continued Brabham. "We came here with a new low downforce aero kit update, a version not quite as low as what we ran at Le Mans last month. The car was difficult to drive to start off with so we had to figure out the balance and how to get the most out of the car.
"You don't get much time over a race event so we continued to maximise the set-up throughout the weekend. Every decision we made was a good one and we just continued to fine-tune the balance during the race.
"Strategy really played out to allow Simon to just take a short final stop and maintain that important gap, as we knew if the Drayson car got too close on the straight they would have easily passed us into turn one.
"We should be really proud of what we have achieved here today. The last three race wins have been hard going and that just gives the team more confidence, especially with the new aero package.
"The next round at Lime Rock will be our home race. We've enjoyed a lot of success there and the car is much more suited to that track, so I'm optimistic for another strong showing."