The Twelve Hours of Sebring next weekend will see reigning LMP1 Champion David Brabham embark on his twelfth American Le Mans Series season – with the Australian keen to secure success again with the Patron Highcroft Racing team.
After a dream year in 2009, which saw the sportscar legend justifiably rewarded with not only the ALMS LMP1 title with Patron Highcroft but also the coveted Le Mans 24 Hours spoils with Peugeot Sport, Brabham heads into the new campaign keen for more success with Duncan Dayton's team.
“We head into 2010 racing an evolution of a 2008 car, which was a great car to drive, reliable and fast,” he said. “We've also had some changes to the team in terms of drivers, engineering experts and a new partnership with GE, so I think we are stronger than ever.
“Certainly all of those factors motivate me even more. I'm really looking forward to Sebring, as I feel that we have a very strong package that we can carry through the race and the year ahead.”
Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti join Brabham, the only driver in ALMS history to boast pole positions and race wins in LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2, to boost Highcroft's already impressive championship-winning pedigree and Brabham said he felt the team was in good shape for the year ahead.
“It's great to have Simon and Marino on board as we are already good friends and our working chemistry sparked straight away,” he said. “They are very fast and their commitment, youth and enthusiasm, will bring a different vibe and energy to the team, helping to take us to a different level.”
Sebring will be the first race outing for the Honda Performance Development ARX-01c - an updated version of the P2-spec ARX-01b in which Brabham took four victories in 2008, including one outright win.
The 2010 car clocked up the fastest LMP2 class time at the 'Wheels Down' Winter Test in February and Brabham said he felt it would be in contention for honours in the season opener.
“Sebring is one of the most important races we go to,” he said. “It's the first one of the season and it's the hardest one, so we have to be extremely well prepared. The recent test was really positive and we will continue testing leading up to the race, but it will be interesting to see how the rules are in terms of making the LMP1 and P2 cars similar in speed, as I think there will be some tinkering to get that right.
“There are still things we need to focus on and practice to ensure we have a good, flowing, race and stay out of trouble. We'll be aiming to keep consistent and finish with a huge amount of points on the board, which is important early in the season.”
“With a new car and new team-mates, who will be pushing each other all the time, I'm very much looking forward to getting out there after the winter break. I feel fresh, I feel ready to go.”