Looking ahead to the second half of the season Patron Highcroft Racing's David Brabham catches us up on his post-Le Mans activities including a race debrief and a look at his training program for the second half of the 2010 American Le Mans...
Looking ahead to the second half of the season
Patron Highcroft Racing's David Brabham catches us up on his post-Le Mans activities including a race debrief and a look at his training program for the second half of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron season.
Highcroft Racing made an impressive Le Mans 24 Hours debut last month, recording a race finish, but a cooling issue sidelined our car for much of the final four hours.
We've completed the post-race analysis and from that we could see we had a problem from Lap 4, which explains why the car changed dramatically during my first stint and some other issues we experienced. We also think we had those problems in practice.
That's the valuable thing about looking back at data and seeing where we need to improve. We certainly got a lot of information that will give us a good boost not only for Le Mans 2011 but for the rest of the ALMS season.
Le Mans was a fantastic experience for the team. It certainly put the guys outside their comfort zone with circumstances they aren't used to, having to think more on their feet.
I think one of the most important things we learnt is preparation. We weren't as prepared as we would have liked to have been with the aero kit, with more than 130 new parts it was a bit of a rush.
We're always learning about preparation but when you get to a place like Le Mans it's even more crucial to plan ahead. This year's race is over but now it's time to start planning for next year. That's how it has to be done.
Everyone has learned a lot about themselves and Highcroft Racing will grow from the experience. Now the focus is back on the American Le Mans Series and it's time to use what we've learnt. I think it's made the team even stronger which can only be good for the rest of the ALMS season.
The next race at Salt Lake City doesn't lend itself to our car as much as other circuits. Due to the high altitude, the turbo-powered cars will definitely have an advantage. It's amazing how dead the engine feels at that altitude but the HPD ARX-01c should be quick through the corners.
It's a tricky place in terms of getting the setup right. You can overdrive quite easily and then wonder why you've lost time. The track is in the middle of nowhere so there aren't many reference points and you really need to know every bump on the track.
It's physically the most demanding track we go to, even accounting for Sebring. Running anti-clockwise it's got a lot of high G-force corners and the slow turns have a lot of grip, so there's a high load on the car and the transmission really gets a battering. It's also tough on the driver as your neck gets quite a pounding.
You definitely feel it after a hard race at Utah so I've been putting in some special preparation post Le Mans. I'm the National Race Coach for the Team UK program and we held a military 24-hour boot camp for the drivers last week. It was good for me to be able to join them, alongside Mark Higgins who is the National Rally Coach, but it was a bit like doing Le Mans all over again.
It was great bonding for Team UK but it was also great for me personally in terms of solid preparation for Salt Lake. I never stop building on my fitness program because no matter how fit you are you can always be fitter.
Obviously approaching mid-season we have to look back and see where we can improve. We're leading the championship which is a great position to be in, but there's a long way to go and we have to keep performing at the highest level.
I wouldn't say Utah is one of our luckiest tracks. We've had issues every time we've been there. Even last year we had a problem with the seat belts coming undone after I'd just left the pits and that lost us too much time to the de Ferran car.
On the plus side that means we've learnt a lot about the things that can catch you out. We know this will be one of our toughest races but we've won the last two rounds. We only have nine rounds this year so one DNF would be a big problem so we have to perform and finish strongly every race.
We just need to keep doing what we're doing, keep improving and we should be in for a strong event.