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Brabham secures dramatic Mid-Ohio podium
8 August 2010
David Brabham scored another sensational second place American Le Mans Series finish in the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge to extend his LMP championship lead to 23 points with three rounds remaining.
Just 0.506 seconds separated Brabham's Patrón Highcroft teammate Simon Pagenaud from the winning Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda in a thrilling round six finish.
Despite again battling an obvious straight-line speed disadvantage, Highcroft continued their 2010 podium pedigree. Finishing no less than second all season, another faultless race secured Brabham's 57th career podium and another impressive points haul.
Missing from the racing action was Highcroft's closest rivals, Greg Pickett's serious accident during Thursday testing sadly ruling the CytoSport Porsche out of the running.
Pagenaud's strong qualifying performance on Friday could only secure third on the Mid-Ohio grid. While the HPD ARX-01c LMP2 car leads the LMP class, which combines LMP1 and LMP2 for 2010, the three race wins and consistent podium finishes have come without performance enhancements by IMSA to match the more powerful LMP1 machines.
With the LMP1 powerhouses once again taking charge as the green flag fell at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Brabham made a solid start to hold fourth before passing Paul Drayson in the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd for third by the end of lap one.
Keeping in close contention of the leading Intersport Lola of Jon Field and second placed Guy Smith in the Dyson Racing car, Brabham was the first to clock up a 1 minute 13 second time on lap 10 as he tailed the leaders by barely one second.
Maintaining an impressive pace around the 2.25-mile 13-turn track, Brabham kept Smith within reach, the gap stretching between 0.2 and 1.6 seconds as the leading trio began to fight through heavy traffic which would become a key factor of the day.
With so much debris on-track, it took a while to clear the rubbish from his Michelin tyres as Brabham sliced through the GT and LMPC fields, allowing the leader to pull out an 8 second lead 30 minutes in.
The reigning LMP1 champion once again closed on second when the first full course caution came into play, presenting the ideal opportunity to pit after a solid stint.
Another lightening stop from the Highcroft crew propelled Pagenaud into second place for the restart with 1 hour and 45 minutes to go until traffic played into Chris Dyson's favour to re-take the slot 15 minutes later.
The second full course caution was perfectly timed for the leading pair. With both cars pitting one lap prior, Pagenaud was forced to pit from the lead under yellows but still rejoined in second.
A thrilling final 43 minutes ensued as Pagenaud paced the lead Dyson car to within tenths of a second until a third safety car came with just 17 minutes to go. The resulting 9 minute dash to the chequered flag produced a nail biting battle, Pagenaud tailing Dyson all the way to secure Highcroft's double second place finish in as many rounds by just over half a second.
“Patrón Highcroft Racing did an outstanding job today,” said Brabham. “We'd like to have seen CytoSport competing with us but it was great to see Greg in the pits today. He was touched to see 'Get well soon Greg' on the tail of our car. It was the least we could do and we look forward to seeing them back in the fight at the next round.
“At the start the track was changeable. There was a lot of rubbish on the circuit and of course it takes time to clear that from the tyres. I don't think I had a single clean-tyre lap during my stint.
“It was the first time we had run after IndyCar qualifying, which meant there was different rubber down on the track. Simon had similar problems in the first part of his stint. As more rubber went down the track came our way, as it has done every race this year.
“Simon did a fantastic job but they had too much power for us on the straights. Simon kept the pressure on perfectly and if Chris [Dyson] had made a mistake he was ready to pounce. Dyson did a great job and congratulations to them on their first win of the season.
“Today was all about putting all-important points on the board and we've certainly achieved that mission. It's great to head into the final three rounds with a strong lead. We'll be looking to achieve more of the same at Road America where we hope the new aero package will play to our maximum advantage.”
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