PATRON HIGHCROFT TO KICK OFF SALT LAKE CITY CHALLENGE FROM FRONT ROW TOMORROW TOOELE, UT, Saturday, May 16, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing scored its first Miller Motorsports Park front row start in qualifying today with David Brabham behind the...
PATRON HIGHCROFT TO KICK OFF SALT LAKE CITY CHALLENGE FROM FRONT ROW TOMORROW
TOOELE, UT, Saturday, May 16, 2009: Patron Highcroft Racing scored its first Miller Motorsports Park front row start in qualifying today with David Brabham behind the wheel for the fourth round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series.
In the team's fourth visit to the picturesque, state-of-the-art, Utah circuit, Brabham led the way in initial qualifying, eventually working his way down to a time of 1 minute, 31.422 seconds.
After being dislodged from the top spot by the sister Acura of Simon Pagenaud, Brabham returned to the track for one final attempt aboard his ARX-02a and improved to 1:31.381 - but it was not enough to regain the pole position.
While Patron Highcroft Racing topped timesheets in both practice sessions this morning, changes undertaken prior to qualifying improved the overall speed, but left Brabham lamenting a lack of front grip.
While the team has qualified 7th, 5th, 4th and 2nd in consecutive years, the race results at Miller Motorsport Park have not been as kind.
Both Brabham and team-mate Scott Sharp will be out to make amends for that tomorrow - aiming to improve their current 21-point advantage at the top of the championship table.
The team will have one final chance to improve the car tomorrow morning in the warm-up at 9:00am before the two hour, 45 minute race kicks off at 2:15pm.
The Tequila Patron Porsche of Ed Brown and Bill Sweedler qualified fourth fastest in the new American Le Mans Series Challenge class. Brown and Sweedler will make their ALMS debut tomorrow.
Brown, Sweedler, Sharp, Brabham, the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura and the two Tequila Patron Porsches will present a group photo opportunity at 9:25am tomorrow morning after the warm-up. All the cars and drivers will line up in the paddock at pit exit before the Patron Highcroft pit.
"The first two practice sessions went really well today and we made a change prior to qualifying to try to improve the front grip.
"However, when we went out I seemed to have less grip which really kills your speed around here.
"I did the best I could with the car but with that change we have to understand what happened and work out how we made it worse, rather than better.
"It is a long race tomorrow and we have shown this weekend that we have been very fast. Sure, we didn't get it done in qualifying but every other session the Patron Highcroft car has been very quick.
"I'm pretty happy with the fact we have a good car for the race. It is a long one around here and anything can happen.
"We'll try some changes in the warm-up in the morning on full tanks and we'll see what that gives us."
"I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow. We seem to excel in race conditions and the team does a great job with pit stops and strategy.
"I think we are in a good position but it is obviously important to keep all four wheels on the road and keep out of the sand - or go off on somebody's else's sand that they have dragged onto the track.
"Brabs did a great job in qualifying and the car went the quickest it has gone all weekend - but Simon had an unbelievable lap.
"Our set-up philosophy really concentrates on the race, rather than making sure we have the pace for that one hot lap in qualifying.
"It is important to keep the car strong throughout the entire life of the Michelin tires so hopefully that will pay off for us tomorrow."