Fresh from the first win for Acura's new LMP1 machine – the ARX-02a – in St Petersburg, Patron Highcroft Racing will look to take a second straight win as the American Le Mans Series heads to Long Beach this weekend for the third round of the year.
David Brabham and Scott Sharp have already tasted success on the famed street circuit after securing LMP2 honours at the venue last season, with Brabham making a dramatic pass for the lead on the final lap to snare victory ahead of the Penske Porsche of Romain Dumas.
The pair now head into the event with a 25 point advantage over fellow Acura runners Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud, and Brabham admitted that the victory in St Petersburg had boosted confidence going to Long Beach.
"St Pete was a fantastic result for us and when you win your first race of the year it really gives you a lot of confidence,” he said. "You go from thinking you can win, to knowing you can win and last year that made a huge difference for Patron Highcroft Racing.
"Tequila Patron is the title sponsor for the Long Beach event and last year was one of those races where you couldn't have written the script better - it was a fantastic finish. We are going there with a lot of confidence, we really like the track and the overall event is brilliant.
"The track at Long Beach is a little different to St Pete. The Michelin tires behave differently and it is a tricky circuit. I really enjoy racing at Long Beach and the place has a great history. That gives the entire event that special something. Despite having a points lead, we have to be very careful the way we think. We have to go into every race weekend going for the win. A points cushion is very handy because anything can happen in this type of racing but we can't rely on that. We are going to every race to win it."
Sharp added that Long Beach is one of his favourite circuits on the calendar and he too was confident for the weekend, although he was quick to point out that there is still a long way to go with the development of the new Acura.
"I remember scoring the pole at Long Beach many years ago in Trans Am and also had a great race one year in CART for PacWest before having a transmission problem,” he said. "It has always been a great track for me, but I hadn't been back for quite a while before last year and it was brilliant to return with Brabs and Patron Highcroft Racing and take the win. It certainly cemented great memories for me.
"We are still in the very early stages of development with the new Acura and there are going to be some ups and downs until the car gets fully developed - probably towards the end of the year. After the win at St Pete we have some great momentum. Our engineering staff is doing a great job in working out the best setup and they gave us a great car at the last race.
"It is excellent to be in the position we are in now with a bit of a points gap but it is only the third race of ten. We still have a long way to go and there are a lot of points on the table. We have to keep doing what we are doing and above all - we have to finish races."