David Brabham is shaping up to add another Le Mans 24 Hours class win to his already impressive racing portfolio after two solid qualifying sessions secured Highcroft Racing the second fastest LMP2 starting slot ahead of the team's race debut.
Brabham continued Highcroft's impressive first showing in France by finishing Thursday's opening two-hour session top of the LMP2 timesheets despite heavy traffic during his single run on Michelin qualifying tyres.
His fastest time of 3:34.537 was only surpassed by Strakka Racing's Danny Watts in the final session, as the Highcroft crew focussed on race set-up for the HPD ARX-01c featuring the Wirth Research-designed low drag aero kit for the first time.
Solid stints and race preparation development delivered by Marco Werner and Marino Franchitti sandwiched Brabham's second attempt on qualifying tyres, which was thwarted by traffic and a minor error at the first chicane in changeable track conditions.
The Malaria No More car's eventual second fastest class time helped secure a lock-out of the top three LMP2 slots for HPD on their Le Mans debut, with the HPD-powered RML Lola completing the line-up.
“We've made good progress today. These sessions were all about focussing on the race set-up and giving Marino and Marco time in the car,” said Brabham. “We've made some more improvements and the car is a lot more driveable and moving towards what we need for the race.”
“The track started to dry towards the end of the first session so we decided to bolt on a set of qualifying tyres and I took provisional pole for a while. Strakka and Danny Watts continued to attack and did a great job to snatch it back.
“The track was still really damp in places and you couldn't risk pushing it too much. There was too much traffic on my second run and I out-braked myself. We didn't want to get carried away with fighting for pole so we switched back to race preparation.
“We've still got a lot to learn with the new aero package as it's affectively a new car. We are playing catch-up and the race will be unknown territory, so we'll continue to make changes and fine tune the car throughout Saturday and Sunday.”