Patron Highcroft Racing trio David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti saw their hopes of LMP2 success in the Sebring Twelve Hours go up in smoke - quite literally - after an electrical issue and small fire cost them victory in the ALMS season opener.

The trio had dominated the event with the HPD ARX-01c and established a lead of five laps over the Team CytoSport Porsche before the incident, but eleven laps lost in the pits resolving the issue left the defending champions to settle for a place on the second step of the podium.

Pagenaud took the start of the race on his Highcroft debut and strong opening stints from the Frenchman and from Franchitti ensured the team led LMP2 from the start, with Brabham starting his first turn behind the wheel on lap 114 - with a one lap lead already.

Brabham worked to extend the lead before handing the car back to Pagenaud, and the advantage over the Porsche was five laps when he came in on lap 254 for a driver change.

The chaffing and welding of two ECU wires in the cockpit sparked a small fire and although quickly extinguished by the crew, repairs to the electrics cost the Highcroft car 24 minutes and the LMP2 lead.

Franchitti rejoined the battle proper fifth overall, after serving a 20 second penalty for too many pit crew members working on the car, and made good work of clawing back track position.

Brabham took the wheel once again as the Florida sun disappeared below the skyline and the fourth full yellow of the race was called, but the sportscar legend was ready to immediately give chase to the leading Porsche and took a lap back from the P2 leaders at the restart.

In another double stint, Brabham pushed lap after lap at a blistering pace to top the lap charts and consistently set some of the fastest times of the field, leaving him ideally positioned at the fifth full course caution to take yet another lap back.

Brabham brought the gap down to under five laps before handing back to Franchitti for the run to the flag, and the Scot brought the car home second in class and fifth overall - giving healthy points from the weekend to carry into the remainder of the season.

"We've scored some healthy points here by finishing second in class and, with just nine ALMS rounds this season, it was really important to get points on the board early on," Brabham said. "It's disappointing not to have taken the LMP2 win as up until the electrical issue we drove a faultless race and enjoyed a five lap lead. Everything was working great, the pit stops were smooth and my teammates excellent. We were looking strong for the win until we lost 24 minutes in the pits and that was impossible to regain in the time we had left.

"Traffic is always heavy at Sebring but we found there wasn't a huge amount of difference in straight line speed between the LMP2, GT and LMPC cars, which meant we had to fight our way through the traffic in the corners and off line. I had a really difficult first stint as a result, as we were suffering from pick-up which was hard to get rid of. Although I managed to pull away from the competition, it was a bit tough and frustrating.

"Overall, the HPD ARX-01c showed great promise and made a strong first showing here today and there's a lot of positives to take away. It's great working with my new team-mates and the chemistry and friendship between Simon, Marino and me is clearly working well already and that bodes well for the rest of the season.

"As in every race, we've learnt a lot today about ourselves, what we do and the way we do it. We'll be building on all those things and coming back stronger for Long Beach."

Long Beach will mark the first race for the ALMS' newly-combined LMP category, with Sebring having run to ACO regulations.