David Brabham made a spectacular pass of Romain Dumas entering Turn Eight on the 70th lap of the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series feature Saturday to win the highly-competitive LMP2 class ion the famed streets of Long Beach.
The victory was the first for the upstart Patrón Highcroft Racing team in the ALMS and the sec- ond for Acura since the manufacturer's entry in the road racing series in 2007.
Brabham took over the No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-01b prototype sports car from his teammate, Scott Sharp, on the 46th lap and charged from fifth position to the lead on the next-to-last lap in a sensational wheel-to-wheel battle with Dumas in the Penske Porsche. The win follows Patrón High- croft Racing's best previous finish of second at St. Petersburg two weeks ago.
The one-hour, forty-minute contest on the 1.98-mile, 11-turn circuit by the Long Beach harbor turned into an Acura-Porsche battle in the last 10 laps, as Brabham drove from three seconds behind to the lead. Brabham's winning margin was 1.06 seconds at the checkered flag after 71 laps.
Brabham's triumph was his 13th career win in ALMS, and the popular second-generation racing star became the first driver to win in all four classes in the 10-year history of the American Le Mans Se- ries. Brabham previously set an ALMS mark by being the first driver to win poles in all four classes.
Brabham's win marked the Brabham Long Beach victory for the Brabham family, as older brother Geoff won the Formula Atlantic events here in 1981 and 1982.
Trailing Brabham and Sharp in the LMP2 division were Dumas and Timo Bernhard in the Pen- ske car, followed by Patrick Long and Sascha Maassen in the other Penske Porsche, and Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi in the XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b.
Herta, a former open-wheel pole winner at Long Beach, ran as high as second Saturday before handing the drive chores to Fittipaldi on Lap 46. The Andretti Green crew made a superb pit stop and Fittipaldi battled with the Porsches and the Acuras to finish fourth Saturday.
Tequila Patrón ALMS Race
1. PATRÓN HIGHCROFT ACURA ARX-01b No.
2. Penske Porsche No. 7
3. Penske Porsche No. 6
4. ANDRETTI GREEN ACURA ARX-01b No. 26
6. LOWE'S FERNANDEZ ACURA ARX-01b No. 15
UPCOMING ALMS RACE:
Event: Miller Utah Grand Prix
Track: Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah (3.08 miles)
Date: Sunday, May 18, 2008, 1 p.m. (MDT)
Distance: 2 hours, 45 minutes
TV: SPEED, May 18, 3 p.m. EDT
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX- 01b): "That was a pretty wild pass on Romain [Dumas]. I knew we were quicker than the Penske cars in the corners. They were a little quicker on the straights. I just had faith that some- thing was going to open up for me. If there was an opportunity, I was going to go for it. I shifted down to first off the corner and I was able to shoot by him to the next turn. I clipped the front wing in the early part of my stint and the aerodynamics weren't just right for our Patrón Highcroft Acura. I just kept charging and looking for a spot to pass. Then, it opened up and I went by him. It is good to have a Brabham back in the winner's circle at Long Beach. Plus, to win here for Patrón in their title race and in the backyard of Acura is very big for our team. Winning in four ALMS classes is great for me but it doesn't mean as much as this effort that the team put forth today. We didn't have a good car on Thursday when practice opened. But the crew worked hard to develop a balance and Scott and I worked well together. This is very exciting for me and the rest of the team."
SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "I am so fortunate to have a teammate like David who has been so open to work with me on this team. I am thrilled to bring Patrón into the winner's circle today. I didn't get a lot of time in the car this week since the setup was a little off on Thursday. David did a great job getting the car right for the race. I was still trying to find my braking points in the first five laps today. Once I got comfortable with the car I think we put in some good, consistent laps. This is a great feeling to win. We were joking with the Patrón guys before the race that they didn't want to give out the post-race trophies to a different team. Now, they're passing them out to our crew. We knew if we got to the end, we had a chance to win."
DUNCAN DAYTON (Team Owner, #9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "I can't believe how many man-hours it took to get here in Victory Lane. This win is a huge tribute to the guys in the shop and the crew and drivers here at Long Beach. My heartfelt thanks for Acura for their support as well as HPD [Honda Perform- ance Development]. They worked so hard to help us last year. And this victory is very exciting for Patrón. They came on with our team this year and we were able to win their race here at Long Beach. Long Beach has a rich history in motorsports and it is an honor to win here. We came here with the wrong setup on Thursday and we had to fight our way back into contention for today. It is a tremendous feeling to get to the top of the podium against the Penske team."
ROB HILL (Team Manager, #9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "This is a huge win for the Patrón Highcroft Acura team. Winning at Long Beach is very special. Long Beach has always been good to me, dating back to the Ganassi days in CART. Our team has come together for the past year and we are still learning. But I am very proud of David and Scott and the whole crew for putting together a winning effort today. It is special to win the Patrón race here and to win so close to Acura's national headquarters. That pass by David over the Penske Porsche was spectacular and it shows his driving talent at its best."
JACK SPURNEY (General Manager, Honda Performance Development, Inc.): "This win is a culmination of a lot of hard work and determination by everyone at Honda Performance Development and our Acura racing teams. This was many people working very hard to get Acura to this position. It is so special to stand on the top of the podium here at Long Beach, right in the backyard of Acura and HPD. I want to wish a well-deserved con- gratulations to Duncan Dayton and the Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura team."