Brabham Scores Third Podium In Four Rounds To Retain LMP1 Championship Lead David Brabham secured his third American Le Mans Series podium finish in four rounds with second overall despite setbacks at the Miller Motorsports Park, Utah, on ...
Brabham Scores Third Podium In Four Rounds To Retain LMP1 Championship Lead
David Brabham secured his third American Le Mans Series podium finish in four rounds with second overall despite setbacks at the Miller Motorsports Park, Utah, on Sunday 17 May. Brabham's consistent form with the Patron Highcroft team retains his place at the top of the LMP1 championship leader board as the season edges towards the halfway mark.
Salt Lake City seals Brabham's and team mate Scott Sharp's double second-place finish of the season so far after taking Acura's first LMP1 victory at St Petersburg and second at Long Beach last time out.
Despite a good start for round four Sharp couldn't hold off Jon Field, whose turbo powered Lola enjoyed a straight-line speed advantage thanks to the high altitude, but regained position on lap four. The precious laps spent trying to pass the Lola lost valuable time which would prove impossible to regain, especially when chasing an identical car, the de Ferran Acura.
Brabham took control of the Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-02a approaching one hour in to the race after Sharp pit from a solid second place around 30 seconds behind the leading Acura. More time was lost when Sharp had difficulty loosening his left lap belt, delaying his exit from the car.
Upon leaving the pits, Brabham realised that his left shoulder belt was not securely fastened, forcing him to slow on his out lap while he tried to get it in place, losing at least half a lap off race-pace.
With Simon Pagenaud now in the de Ferran Acura nearly a minute up the track, the 43 year-old resident of Henley-on-Thames (UK) battled through the traffic to claw back around 12 seconds, setting the car's fastest lap of 1:33.008 -- mere tenths off the blistering pace set by the leading Acura.
As the final hour approached, the quick-thinking Patron Highcroft team brought Brabham in to the pits to take on fuel, deciding to double-stint the Michelin tyres in the hope of saving around 15 seconds. Despite their efforts, the safety car-free race did not play into their hands and Brabham settled in to conserve second place in the hunt for vital championship points.
Brabham held fast and remained unchallenged to take the chequered flag as the only other car to finish on the lead lap, to complete an all-Acura podium.
"Another second place has scored good points and our best result at Salt Lake City to help retain the championship lead, but it was a tough race for us today," said Brabham. "We had a few hold-ups in the pits, which lost us a ton of time, and as I got on to the pit straight I realised that my left belt wasn't secured. So I had to coast on part throttle and try to get this the pin in the buckle, or risk coming into the pits again.
"When I finally got going I had a good first stint and I managed to get back a chuck of time, but there was still a big gap to the de Ferran Acura, so we had no option but to double stint the tyres in the pit stop. The Michelins were handling great but to double stint the tyres is a lot to ask around here and I began to lose grip up front and couldn't make an impression on Simon [Pagenaud].
"We lost around 15 seconds trying to retake second at the beginning of the race and it was an uphill struggle from there. I can't remember the last ALMS race where we didn't have a safety car and we could have really used one today, but we didn't get the break. Our overall pace is there and I was quicker than Simon in my first stint, so we've got some positives to build on. We just need to take a look at our overall performance and step things up a gear."
After four rounds, Brabham and Sharp continue to lead Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud by 17 points in the LMP1 battle as the Series takes a nine week break before round five, the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park on 17&18 July.