Far from being overshadowed by de Ferran Motorsports' pole-winning performance in the 'other' Acura ARX-02a, Patron Highcroft Racing insists that it was some way from achieving the full potential of its new car in qualifying for the Sebring 12 Hours.
Team leader David Brabham marked his return to the LMP1 category by qualifying only sixth in the all-new Acura, but insisted that, despite having made great strides through the build-up to the Sebring event, the Patrón Highcroft team still had more to show when the American Le Mans Series opener gets underway on Saturday morning.
Brabham gradually built up his pace through the 20-minute qualifying session, posting constantly improved lap times, but found himself thwarted each time a really quick lap was on the cards.
“We decided to treat our first LMP1 qualifying session like a test, so we tried a lot of things that we haven't tried before," the former GT, GT1 and GT2 class winner commented after posting a best effort at 1min 46.504secs, "Some of them worked and some of them didn't, but my particular challenge was trying to put in enough laps to get the optimum grip in the tyres. However, every time I put in a flying lap, I was hampered by traffic next time round.
"We could have played it safe, but we are still developing the car and combining our knowledge to make it the best car possible. We have learnt a lot today and that is what we wanted to do. It's a massive learning curve but we have good reliability so I'm looking forward to starting Saturday's race."
Seeing the Acura name at the head of the times, courtesy of Scott Dixon's best lap in the de Ferran Motorsports machine, was not only surprising, but pleasing for Brabham, whose own effort book-ended the six main contenders for victory in the event behind the works Audis and Peugeots.
“It's great to see an Acura LMP1 on pole at Sebring," the Australian insisted, "We have all worked hard and contributed towards that, and my congratulations go to Acura, Wirth Research, Honda Performance Development and de Ferran Motorsports. It's great for the programme - and a taste of things to come.”
The Highcroft team has a couple of final practice sessions in which to continue honing the ARX-02a but, with qualifying complete, Brabham had hoped to officially start the 50th anniversary celebrations of his father's first Formula One world championship title. However, the re-enactment of Sir Jack's historic US Grand Prix finish - in the actual 1959 Cooper Climax T51 used that day - fell foul of the onset of rain over Sebring, postponing the event until Saturday morning when David will also conduct a number of parade laps prior to the ALMS opener.