After a hugely successful 2008 season for the Patron Highcroft Acura team, the 2009 American Le Mans Series campaign will throw up new challenges as the team moves up to the premier LMP1 class.
Ahead of the new season, Crash.net
sat down with Brabham to discuss what 2009 may hold…
Only fair to look back on a strong 2008 before we talk about 2009. You must be thrilled with how it panned out?
It was a mega year really. Going into the 2008 season, we were quite optimistic that we could do well and as the year turned out, we did very
well really – winning four races and I think we had seven podiums.
It was a fantastic battle with Penske Porsche all the way to the end and it was some of the best racing I've ever been involved with through my entire career; from how close the racing was to dicing in and out of traffic – it was a special year and one I will look back on with a lot of great memories. Winning Le Mans again with Aston Martin was again a great thing and gives us a lot of momentum for this year.
Mid-way through 2008 we go the anticipated news that Acura will step up from LMP2 to LMP1. Highcroft are one of the teams who will make that switch so how excited are you by the new programme?
How excited am I? Well it's been a while since I've been in a P1 car so I am really looking forward to it and being further involved in the Acura programme. It's the right time for our team to move up to LMP1 and we tested the car before Christmas. I go out on Sunday [11 Jan] for more testing and we are really geared up for it.
We are looking forward to the first challenge at Sebring which is a race we are going there to win. We aren't just looking to finish, we have high expectations and have set our goals. Winning Sebring is one of them.
What have been your first impressions of the P1 car?
The car straight from the box showed it has a lot of pace. When you drive it, it gives you a smile on your face as the thing is really good. There are still areas we need to improve on and reliability is an area we have needed to work on as it's a brand new car and a new concept to the P2 car.
There is a lot for us to learn but we have a fantastically talented group of people there with Wirth Research involved and HPD, so by the time we get to Sebring, we should be strong.
The layman would look at a prototype car and not really be able to differentiate between the two classes, so what are the main differences between the two cars?