Utah: Highcroft Racing preview

PATRON HIGHCROFT RACING OUT TO REVERSE SALT LAKE CITY FORTUNES DANBURY, CT, Monday, April 13, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing continue its championship assault on the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series at Salt Lake City's Miller Motorsport...


DANBURY, CT, Monday, April 13, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing continue its championship assault on the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series at Salt Lake City's Miller Motorsport Park this weekend with the series returning to one of the country's premier road courses after its recent street circuit battles.

Scott Sharp and David Brabham hold a 21 point advantage in the LMP1 class aboard their factory Acura ARX-02a prototype. After scoring a win and runner-up placing in the past two events on the St. Petersburg and Long Beach streets, the team edged out its championship advantage by three points in the past two events.

However, the state-of-the-art Miller Motorsports Park facility has not been a happy hunting ground for the Patron Highcroft Racing squad. Since the debut of its relationship with Acura in 2007, the team has yet to record a strong finish in Salt Lake City - being 24th last year and 21st in 2007.

Both drivers will be out to make amends this weekend - Sharp and Brabham stepping back into the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura after "moonlighting" in other series. Sharp clinched his 14th start in the Indianapolis 500 last weekend aboard a Tequila Patron Panther Racing entry while Brabham made his debut for Peugeot in the Eurpean-based Le Mans Series.

Sharp will fly back to Indy to contest the 500 after the Salt Lake City weekend, while Brabham will begin preparations for Peugeot for the 24 Hours of Le Mans which takes place in France next month.

For the first time this weekend, race fans will also see a double shot of Patron on track with Ed Brown and Bill Sweedler making their debut aboard a Porsche GT3 in the new American Le Mans Series Challenge class. Brown and Sweedler graduate from the Patron GT3 Challenge Series that is also on the Salt Lake City weekend schedule.

With three races now completed, Patron Highcroft Racing has now raised more than $15,000 to combat malaria deaths in Africa through its Miles to End Malaria program in partnership with Malaria No More.

Patron Highcroft Racing and Tequila Patron are pledging $10 for every mile the team races in 2009. Fans join the race to beat malaria by pledging as little as a penny per mile at www.milestoendmalaria.org

On track action kicks off next Friday with two test sessions scheduled at Miller Motorsports Park at 3:10pm and 4:10pm.

The American Le Mans Series also returns to its standard two hour, 45 minute race format for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix starting at 2:15pm on Sunday.

Scott Sharp
"After a pretty dramatic weekend in Indy, I am really looking forward to heading to Salt Lake City this weekend.

"At the end of qualifying for the 500 on Sunday I was starting to think I was going to have to rent a plane to fly back and forth - practice the ALMS car on Friday, qualify at Indy on Saturday, and then fly back to the race at Miller Motorsports Park on Sunday.

"Thankfully, we are all locked into the show for the 500 and I can really concentrate with Brabs and all the team on our championship assault for Patron Highcroft Racing.

"We've still got a handy points break at the moment but this place hasn't been kind to the team over the past couple of years so we will have to be at the top of our game.

"We have a big break in the calendar after this race so it will be important to leave Salt Lake City on a positive note, give the guys a little rest, then really get stuck back into the championship battle from mid July at Lime Rock Park."

David Brabham
"Miller Motorsport Park will be a challenge because it's the most demanding track on the American Le Mans Series calendar for the car. Sebring is tough because it's bumpy and harsh on the driver but this track inflicts a high load on the car and particularly the transmission.

"The turbo-powered cars will have an advantage in Utah due to the high altitude, so it's going to be a tough race but it will be a good test for us all.

"We head to Salt Lake City with the aim of taking our second win and maintaining the LMP1 class lead. It's been good for the team to have a break and catch our breath after Long Beach.

"We've used that time to make sure we are fully prepared and we're feeling pretty positive for this weekend."

Fastest Corner: Turn #15 (7th turn on the track)
Maximum Corner Speed: 225 kph (140 mph)
Maximum Lateral Gs: 3 G in turn #15 (7th turn on the track)
Slowest Corner: Turn 5
Minimum Corner Speed: 95 kph (59 mph)
Fastest top speed: 270 kph (167 mph)
Percentage of lap on full throttle: 65%
Maximum Braking Gs: 2.5 G
Number of Brake Applications: 9
Gear Changes per lap: 28
Left Turns: 10
Right Turns: 5


What is your favorite corner and why?
"The turn one, two, three section is again my favorite section of the track at Salt Lake. It is very fast in the Patron Acura.

"The car has to be just right and you use all the road to get as much speed out of the car as possible.

"It is certainly a thrilling section of the track to drive."

What is the most challenging aspect of the Salt Lake City circuit?
"There are plenty of passing zones with a great variety of different corners but the biggest challenge is the fact that there is sand everywhere.

"It is on all edges of the track. You have to make sure you have all four wheels on the track at all times.

"You can't afford to run wide anywhere at any of the exits to the corners. Quite often in the race you'll have another car can run off the road and bring sand back on the track which can surprise you."

What is the secret to a good lap at Miller Motorsports Park?
"Keep off the sand! It seems to be a circuit where because of the high-speed nature of the first part of the circuit you can't afford to loose time early.

"You have to get that section right and fast and that leads to the rest of the lap coming together for a good time.

If you could make a change to the circuit, what would it be?
"Plant more grass! If you could take away some of the sand problem it could really improve the track."

What is your favorite memory of Salt Lake?
"I haven't got too many favorite memories from this place as yet. I've only had one race here and it didn't go so well.

"We ran really well at the beginning of the race last year but things didn't turn out as we would have liked."

-credit: phr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Ed Brown , Bill Sweedler
Teams Panther Racing