Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham kept their title hopes in place with the PatrÃ³n Highcroft Racing team at Mosport this weekend following a second place finish at the latest round of the American Le Mans Series.
It has been a great year of consistency for the team which has seen them take three wins, four second places and a third place as they look to retain the LMP2 class title. The latest result means a sixth place class finish is all that is needed to secure the title at the final race of the year – Petit Le Mans.
The team acknowledged that if it wasn’t for some luck and excellent driving by Pagenaud they might have finished more than a lap adrift of main championship rival – The Porsche RS Spyder of Klaus Graf who was enjoying a 25kg weightbreak since the third round at Laguna Seca. The Porsche would make full use of the advantage at Mosport recording the fastest time in every session, leading every lap and coming close to lapping the entire field.
David Brabham would mark a milestone as he took his 100th ALMS start which was bumped up to third after the Dyson Mazda started from the back of the grid following a tyre change. Despite the early gift Brabham would struggle with the car set-up in the opening stint, dropping back to fourth before moving up to second after Chris Dyson and Jon Field headed to the pits to change drivers. Brabham would put on lap 52 to swap for team-mate Simon Pagenaud.
The Highcroft team worked hard as they adjusted the rear wing on the pitstop dropping a lap to the leader, a minute later a strock of luck would give the team a hand as the safety car headed out on track, the result would see Pagenaud gain his lap back to Dumas, the leader as he pitted.
Klaus Graf would battle hard with Pagenaud on the restart but the Frenchman wasn’t going to give up as they scythed through the traffic. A second safety car period would enable Pagenaud to drive around to the back of the pack as the leader lined up behind it.
Graf and Pagenaud would be set for battle as they made their final pitstops, unfortunately this wouldn’t be, the race was red flagged following damage to the safety fences in the incident that caused the second safety car period.
Despite not continuing their winning streak from 2008 and 2009 the team would pick up its third Michelin Green X Challenge Award of the season.
“It was a very difficult race for us.” admitted Pagenaud. “David had a big job at the start because the car wasn’t handling very well and thanks to him he helped us to make changes for my stint.
“After the changes, the car was quite decent for me and I was able to hold off the leader and get back on the lead lap but the red flag came and I didn’t get a chance to take a shot at the win.
“I had new Michelin rubber at the end and I thought we might have had a chance but we never got going again.
“With what happened in the race, I think second is a good result and to head into Petit Le Mans with a 16 point margin which is a very good cushion and hopefully we can win our class at Petit Le Mans on a fair and level playing field.
“It’s nice to come away with the Green X Challenge win for the third time this year – we’re leading the points tally in that championship as well.”
With his 100th ALMS race start out of the way Brabham said: “It was a tough stint for me at the start. It was a big challenge to maintain grip through the lap and when it did drop off, it dropped off a lot.
“That is something that we need to understand because it cost us a lot of time out there.
“It was just a case of trying to not go off the track but it was a fantastic recovery by the boys to make tire pressure and rear wing changes for Simon and we were in pretty good shape behind the Muscle Milk car.
“Simon had done a great job holding Klaus off before the safety car and he was a lot more happy with the balance of the car.
“We just wanted that little bit more grip. We were in a pretty good position at the end but fortunately Luke Hines was able to climb out of that horrible accident OK.
“We’re doing everything we need to do to win this championship. We need to keep finishing and finishing well. Second is great here today and we have a lot of data and information that we can carry into Petit for the setup and hopefully go out with a win.”