David Brabham and Highcroft Racing's faultless second place in LMP2 was stolen away in the 20th hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours 2010, a cooling issue ending the team's dream debut and Brabham's hopes to secure a fourth consecutive class title at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
In the experienced hands of Brabham, Marino Franchitti and Marco Werner, the Highcroft crew made an awesome race debut in France, immediately setting an impressive pace.
As predicted, the class battle between Highcroft and HPD rivals Strakka raged from the flag with Brabham holding steady in second. The only other car running on the lead lap for near-on ten hours, turn perfect stints by the drivers saw the Malaria No More car take the lead on more than one occasion.
Despite a steep learning curve running the new aero kit, the Highcroft car's only troubles up until the cooling issue included the square sum of a handling imbalance and an unfortunate series of punctures caused by debris on the track.
Sterling stints by Werner and then Brabham clawed back the gap to two laps before disaster struck and the team's debut dreams began to fade as the clock ticked away.
Regardless, Brabham and the team's outstanding first-time efforts haven't gone un-noted and the reigning American Le Mans Series Champions leave Le Mans as serious contenders for the 2011 re-match.
“It's not the end of the world in the grand scheme of things but it was a tough race,” said Brabham. “We all had problems with the balance early on but it came good and we caught back up. It would have been a close race but I'm not sure we had enough to beat Strakka who had a faultless run. They were quicker but we definitely deserved a class podium and top ten finish.”
“The result wasn't what we wanted but you have to take a step back and appreciate this was our first Le Mans. We didn't arrive here with an aero kit we've run for months; we did our testing mid week and during the race.
“It's been a fantastic effort by Highcroft, everyone worked hard and the car was bullet proof until the cooling issue, so we've got a lot to take away for the rest of this season and Le Mans 2011. Highcroft has been on the up since the start of the Acura programme in 2007 and this is our first major blow, so in some respects its appropriate timing for the team's development.”