David Brabham has revealed that topping qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was the only ambition for Patron Highcroft Racing on its first competitive outing since seeing the LMP2 drivers' championship slip away in disappointment at Petit Le Mans.
The Australian clinched his third overall American Le Mans Series pole in what was his last qualifying session in the team's LMP2 Acura before Highcroft moves into the senior LMP1 class with the brand next season. A renowned master of qualifying, Brabham did not disappoint as the LMP2 class dominated proceedings at the challenging Californian circuit, setting a blistering time of 1min 10.103secs to take top spot by 0.099secs and set a new ALMS lap record in the process.
The performance was enough to begin quelling the disappointment Brabham and team-mate Scott Sharp felt after seeing their LMP2 title ambitions brought to a premature end at the previous round at Road Atlanta, Brabham, in particular, was fired up having not had the chance to race in the blue riband event.
“It was both mine and the team's goal to get pole position here today,” 'Brabs' revealed, "It's great to come back and take pole after the problems of the last round. The team is really strong, but it's still great for morale and I'm really pleased for all the guys. We had to really work to get the car to where we wanted it for qualifying, and we have made a couple of set-up changes that we will try out in warm-up tomorrow morning."
With the title fight behind him, Brabham has now set his sights set on victory in Saturday's race, aiming to clinch his fifth class win of the season and conclude his LMP2 campaign with the Patrón Highcroft crew on a high.
"We've got a strong race car, but anyone starting in the top six has a chance of winning, so it's going to be a great battle," he warned, "With Patrón Highcroft moving to LMP1 with Acura for next year, it's fantastic to clinch the last overall pole position of the season. To follow that up with an overall win tomorrow would certainly top off the year.”
Brabham set the fastest overall time on his fifth lap after work by the Highcroft crew transformed the performance of his car.
“One of the keys to qualifying here at Laguna Seca is finding the proper space to get a hot lap," team principal Duncan Dayton commented, "We held David in the pits and looked for the right position on the track and then let him go out.
"You need to build up your momentum on a track like this one and he was able to get the Michelins just right. He then gave us a pole run after the crew did another fantastic job of setting up the car. He is a tremendous competitor behind the wheel and, at the age of 43, he continues to amaze us with his performances.”