David Brabham and Scott Sharp ended de Ferran Motorsports' four-race win streak with a close, tense victory in the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase at Road America, the Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura beating its rival to the flag by just 0.461secs.
It was a first victory for Brabham and Sharp's ARX-02a since St. Petersburg in early April, and was enough to add a further four points to the recently diminishing margin they hold over Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud in the LMP1 standings.
“I think we handled the car the best we have this year,” said Brabham, who now leads the title hunt with Sharp by 13 points, “The left front was starting to push a little too much toward the end. I had reasonable heat on the right side tyres and could maintain that gap to Gil. He was breathing down my neck; he is a great competitor.”
Brabham and Sharp won for the second straight season at Road America, having claimed LMP2 class success last season by 0.867secs. It was just as, if not more, tense Sunday.
“We felt a little in a rut watching de Ferran win four in a row,” admitted Sharp, "It has been a little rough watching them close our points gap. Coming here, we knew we had to dig deep. It was a challenge though to get the car where we wanted it, but we made changes last night and this morning. The yellows were in our favour, and the team did a great strategy call. Then David did a great job at the end to hold Gil off – it was very exciting.”
The de Ferran and Patrón Highcroft Acuras swapped the lead four times in the first 55 laps, mostly on pit strategies, but the final change with seven minutes remaining set up the duel between close friends and even closer competitors.
“I had very little go through my mind because I wasn't about to choke and let that lead go,” Brabham said, “The best thing for me to do was not to think and just drive. When you start looking in the mirrors, you think 'don't screw up' - and then you end up where you were looking. So I tried not to look.”
“Our guys are pretty good at strategy,” Sharp added, “I thought they had it very well thought out. We were off a little bit [with de Ferran] after they did that stop. They didn't explain too much on the radio - but I think they wanted that so we would hammer down and just race.”
In LMP2, Lowe's Fernandez Racing's Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz won for the sixth time in seven races, after taking their Acura ARX-01b with a 6.742secs victory over Dyson Racing's Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti. The win was secured when the Lowe's Fernandez crew elected not to change tyres on its final pit stop with approximately 30 minutes left.