ALMS » 11 September 2009
Franchitti to Petit with Patron Highcroft.
Former Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti will return to the Patrón Highcroft Racing team for the forthcoming Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta, completing a three-driver line-up with current American Le Mans Series points leaders David Brabham and Scott Sharp.
The penultimate round of the 2009 ALMS campaign will see the Scot return to the scene of his debut with the team, having raced alongside Brabham and sharp in the Patrón-backed LMP2 class Acura last season. Since then, Franchitti has turned out for Highcroft at the Sebring season opener, and he is looking forward to seeing what has changed ahead of his second drive aboard the 2009 LMP class ARX-02a.
"In watching the job that the Patrón Highcroft guys have done over the season, and talking to the team about the development of the car, it appears it has come a long way since I first drove it back at Sebring," the Scot commented, "When you are in the car, developing it every week, you sometimes don't notice some of the little changes along the way. But, in my position, to compare the car now after nearly a full season of development will be really interesting to see how much progress has been made and how different it feels.
"Hopefully, I will be able to make some valuable input in the set-up with that in mind. Anytime you bring in another driver, it is always interesting to get some feedback from somebody else's perspective. That was certainly the case last year when I first drove the Patrón Highcroft P2 car compared to my previous Acura outings for AGR."
The Patrón Highcroft squad currently enjoys a 17-point lead in the LMP1 championship with two races remaining, while Franchitti is also still in contention for a second IndyCar Series title, and the prospect of being a part of two success stories clearly appeals to the Scot..
"In my day job with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, my team-mate and I are very much in contention for the championship with two races to go, and we're trying everything we can to make that happen," he confirmed, "I also have to thank Chip and all the boys at TCGR for allowing both Scott [Dixon] and I to go off and do this race - particularly as our own championship battles are so close.
"The Patrón Highcroft boys, meanwhile, have been doing a great job all season and I would love to help them in some small way to achieve their championship goal. I'm very much aware of what my job is going to be at Petit, [but] it is certainly an exceptional field with Audi, Peugeot and also the ORECA guys coming over.
"The P2 cars are also very impressive and have been quite close to the P1 cars from time to time. Obviously, I have been keeping an eye on my brother Marino and the Dyson boys as well.
"My job at Petit is certainly to be a team player - I'm not out there to be a star. I have to be conservative and make sure I hand the car back in perfect condition at the end of my stints. Pulling off a strong finish will be extremely important for Patrón Highcroft Racing's championship aspirations."
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