Commanding a four point lead approaching the fourth round at Miller Motorsports Park, David Brabham will be hunting for maximum points at a circuit he bills as one of the toughest on the ALMS calendar.
Sterling performances by Brabham and teammate Simon Pagenaud so far this season have ensured nothing less than podium finishes for Highcroft Racing. Second in class at Sebring followed by back-to-back victories at Long Beach and Laguna Seca place the pairing at the top of the LMP title fight, ahead of the Porsche RS Spyder CytoSport squad.
After an impressive Le Mans 24 Hours debut last month, where Brabham helped the team record a race finish despite a cooling issue that sidelined the car for much of the final four hours, Highcroft are fired up to continue their defence of the ALMS crown.
Round four at Utah, however, will be no walk in the park as the high-altitude 3.048-mile circuit is notorious for pushing man and machine to the limit. Brabham commented: “Salt Lake City doesn't lend itself to our car as much as other circuits. Due to the high altitude the turbo powered cars will definitely have an advantage. It's amazing how dead the engine feels at that altitude but the HPD ARX-01c should be quick through the corners.
“It's a tricky place in terms of getting the set-up right. You can overdrive quite easily and then wonder why you've lost time. There aren't many reference points around the track so you really need to know and focus on every bump.
“It's physically the most demanding track we go to, even accounting for Sebring. Running anti-clockwise it's got a lot of high g-force corners and the slow turns have a lot of grip, so there's a high load on the car and the transmission really gets a battering. It's also tough on the driver as your neck gets quite a pounding.”
Maintaining peek fitness is always of paramount importance but with the challenges of Salt Lake City looming the reigning champion has been preparing for the high altitude race with military precision.
“I'm the National Race Coach for the Team UK programme and we had a military 24 hour boot camp for the drivers last week. It was good for me to be able to join them, alongside Mark Higgins who is the National Rally Coach, but it was a bit like doing Le Mans all over again. It was great bonding for Team UK but it was also great for me personally in terms of solid preparation for Salt Lake.
“You definitely feel it after a hard race at Utah and for me doing Le Mans and the Team UK boot camp is all part of gearing up for this race and making sure I'm as fit as I can be.”