16 August 2009
Highcroft not quite on top of Road America.
Patrón Highcroft Racing will continue its season-long fight with Acura rivals de Ferran Motorsports from the front row of the grid after qualifying second at Road America for the seventh round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series.
David Brabham's first qualifying attempt stopped the clocks at 1min 49.574secs, and the Australian later improved to record a time of 1min 49.039secs, but that was only good enough to hold top spot for a few moments before being pushed back to second by Gil de Ferran's lap of 1min 48.216secs - both drivers recording their fastest time on their third lap on the Michelin tyres.
Fighting a lack of grip in the slow corners and high-speed understeer, the Patrón Highcroft squad made further adjustments to the Acura ARX-02a to try to squeeze additional speed from it, but Brabham was unable to improve.
"We haven't got the set-up right yet, Brabham admitted, "In terms of car balance, we haven't got enough grip in the slow corners and the front washes out a lot in the high-speed stuff. If you have that around here, it makes it a big challenge and we just haven't been able to dial that out of the car yet.
"We have to find a lot more speed, so we're going to do our homework tonight and look at everything and try and understand we are not about to get the grip we need. The race tomorrow could be interesting because, judging on the amount of red flags we have had this weekend, I think we will see the safety car out from time to time.
"One thing Patrón Highcroft Racing is very good at is quick-thinking strategy, so we have to maintain our focus and be prepared to take advantage of anything that takes place."
Brabham and co-driver Scott Sharp have their sights set on repeating the LMP2 victory they enjoyed at Road America last season, and head to the Elkhart lake track holding a nine-point lead in the LMP1 title chase after six rounds, but know that the de Ferran team - with four successive poles now under it belt - will be doing all it can to secure a fifth straight win.
“It has been a pretty tough weekend so far for the Patrón Highcroft team," Brabham admitted, "On Friday, we had a hydraulic problem with the steering, and Scott had a very big moment in the kink portion of the track, so we didn't get all of the track time we wanted.
"The car felt better in qualifying, but Gil had a strong run. Now, we have to get the car ready to race. We won last year here, so that is our goal again on Sunday."
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