Patron Highcroft Racing has been left with work to do ahead of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta after Scott Sharp was involved in a huge accident during the second free practice session.
Sharp, who shares the Acura ARX-02a with David Brabham and Dario Franchitti made contact with the Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Dirk Werner as he passed the exit of the pit lane and was sent airborne, before slamming into the wall at turn three.
The collision ripped away a massive amount of bodywork as well as other major components to the car. It appeared three of the wheels were torn off in the rollover as well as suspension pieces and parts of the drivetrain. Debris was strewn across the circuit, and the inside retaining fence suffered major damage.
Luckily for Sharp, he was able to walk away from the wrecked car and was then released from the medical centre after undergoing checks.
“I really don't know what happened,” Sharp said. “I was heading up the hill in sixth gear and felt a hit in the right rear. The wheel arches are very high with the wide front tyres on the Acura - I didn't see a thing – only felt the contact. I knew it was a big one and I am just really grateful to Acura and all the boys at Patrón Highcroft Racing for building such a strong car.
“I'm shattered for Duncan, all the guys, Brabs and Dario (Franchitti). We went through this last year and I can't believe it's happened again. I was just thinking to myself how much I like this place when next thing I'm headed upside down with a mouth full of Georgia clay.”
With the car destroyed in the accident and Highcroft not having a spare at the circuit, a replacement monocoque is now en-route from Honda Performance Development and is set to arrive at Road Atlanta mid-morning on Friday so the team can begin to build the car up for qualifying.
Already, the team has started working preparing parts at the circuit in preparation for the arrival of the new tub.
“The most important thing is the fact that Scotty was able to walk away,” team owner Duncan Dayton said. “Cars can be rebuilt, but looking at the amount of dirt covering the top of his helmet we are just grateful he is fine. The guys are getting stuck into the car now, and we will do whatever it takes to get the car back together.
“Unfortunately, we suffered a similar set-back last year but the guys are not getting down, they are ready to work through the night. Our thanks go to all the guys at Acura, HPD and Wirth Research – that crash looked like an airplane accident and it is a credit to the those guys that Scott was able to walk away after that.”