Defending champion David Brabham admits that putting on a show for the fans will be the main aim for a new-look American Le Mans Series in 2010.
The series will bring in new rules for the season ahead which will see P1 and P2 cars run together in a single class, with Highcroft electing to run an updated version of the Acura ARX-01c as it seeks to defend its title.
With Scott Sharp having moved on, Brabham will be partnered by Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti during the season ahead – the latter for three events – and the Australian admitted that an interesting campaign lies ahead.
“I seem to be the consistent thread in all the changes [at Highcroft] and that comes from when I sat down with Duncan Dayton a few years ago and he said he wanted me there in the long-term as the team wanted the stability and consistency,” he told Crash.net
. “I could see the potential in the team so it was a no-brainer for me and we have shared a lot of success together.
“For 2010 we have new rules really with P1 and P2 together and I still don't know how that is going to work – we have to wait and see. It is a way to enhance the racing at a time when it is tough for everyone with their finances but you have to go out there – particularly in America – and put on a show so the fans are drawn to it as there are so many other forms of sport.
“We have done that for the past few years, particularly two years ago. Last year we didn't have the numbers, but it was still a great battle and we [Highcroft] go into 2010 as a stronger package. We have grown as a team and Simon coming in will keep me on my toes to help push forward. Marino also brings that extra youth on board and I feel very lucky to have team-mates like that for this year.
“Obviously, I have known Simon for a few years through the Acura programme and when you sit down and analyse all the laps and all the races with the Acura drivers, there was always two drivers who were the quickest and most consistent – and that was me and Simon. We will make a good pairing and Marino has come along to support the programme. He will be at every event and will compete in the endurance races and it is a case of Highcroft looking to the future as I won't be able to race forever and it is a way of bringing in that next phase for the team.”
With teams still waiting to discover exactly how the rules will pan out for 2010, Brabham admitted it was difficult to evaluate who will be Highcroft's main rivals for the season ahead, although he tipped both Dyson Racing and Drayson Racing to be strong.
“We'll have to wait and see when we get to the first race,” he said. “The way the rules will be set – and I don't know what IMSA will do to set the rules – will decide it. If you look at last year, the Mazda was quicker on the straights but the Acura was better in the corners and the overall lap time was quicker with the Acura to begin before the Mazda closed in.
“Mazda will be in it again this year I think with Dyson and they will be a competitor. Paul Drayson's team with Jonny Cocker is turning out to be a quick car and I know Paul committed to the series this year. The way our racing is with the yellow flags, you still have a chance even if one driver is slower. If Jonny is up there with the yellow flag, then they will have a chance.”