DETROIIT PORTS CAR CHALLENGE - BELLE IISLE — Aug.. 29--30,, 2008
BRABHAM, SHARP DUO HOT IN AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES,
Patrón Highcroft Team Has Four Wins In Last Six Races in 2008
Acura sports car racers David Brabham and Scott Sharp have collected four wins in the last six American Le Mans Series races and they seek another victory when they hit the streets of Belle Isle on August 29-30 in the Detroit Sports Car Challenge.
The Patrón Highcroft Racing pair collected their fourth LMP2 class victory last Sunday at the lightening-fast Mosport International Raceway near Toronto in a great battle against the Penske and Dyson Porsches and three other Acura contenders.
Coming to the Belle Isle circuit for the Aug. 30 ALMS event, many of the Acura drivers including Sharp are no strangers to the 2.09-mile, 14-turn road course on the island near downtown Detroit. The Florida veteran was a two-time Trans-Am winner on the old downtown street course and took second at Belle Isle in 1993. Sharp finished 11th in last year’s IndyCar Series race at Belle Isle.
This year, Sharp, with his partner Brabham, has wins at prestigious events such as the streets of Long Beach, the legendary Road America and Mosport. In addition, Sharp and Brabham collected Acura’s first overall victory with a sensational late-race pass at Lime Rock Park last month. Brabham has an overall pole this year. Sharp and Brabham currently rank second in the LMP2 point standings (by ten points) as they look to close on leaders Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, last year’s Belle Isle overall winners. Joining Sharp and Brabham in the Acura contingent at Belle Isle are three strong efforts from Andretti Green Racing, Lowe’s Fernandez Racing and de Ferran Motorsports.
Former Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran comes back to the Detroit for the first time since the 2001 CART event. The two-time CART champion brings his new team and No. 66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01b prototype sports car to Detroit. Last Sunday at Mosport, De Ferran, the 1999 Belle Isle CART pole winner, teamed with young French star Simon Pagenaud to hold the LMP2 lead with one lap remaining when de Ferran’s car ran out of fuel. De Ferran also won the overall pole at Mid-Ohio. The No. 15 Lowe’s Acura duo of Mexican driving stars Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz have been very competitive allseason including a wheel-to-wheel duel with the winning Porsche throughout the 12 Hours of Sebring. A podium finishes at Mid-Ohio and Mosport makes Fernandez and Diaz contenders at Detroit.
Fernandez is no stranger to the Detroit area with a victory in the Indy Lights race in 1992 and second in the CART race in 1998. The Andretti Green Racing features 24 Hours of Le Mans star Franck Montagny as the new primary driver of the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b at Mid-Ohio. Montagny, who placed second in the Champ Car race at Long Beach, will team with Honda F-1 test driver James Rossiter at Belle Isle.
ACURA LMP2 LINEUP AT MOSPORT
* No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-01bDrivers: David Brabham, Scott Sharp* No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01bDrivers: Adrian Fernandez, Luis Diaz* No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01bDrivers: Franck Montagny, James Rossiter* No. 66 Panasonic ELS de Ferran AcuraDrivers: Gil de Ferran (left), Simon Pagenaud
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-0ba):
“Our Patrón Highcroft Acura team did a great job with strategy this year. Winning four races this year has been a great thrill and we would like to continue the trend at Belle Isle. What a phenomenal race at Mosport! The wheel-towheel action was as good as it gets. There was really worldclass competition. The racing with Romain [Dumas] was incredibleas we passed back and forth. I feel bad for my mate Gil’s team. They were so close to winning. We are closing in on the point lead. That’s very exciting for us!””
SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX- 01b):
“Winning four races this year is a tremendous feat for this young team. I think we have a chance to win another one before the end of the year. To get the first overall win this year for Acura and Patrón [at Lime Rock], that was a big accomplishment. This Acura prototype is one of the best cars I have ever driven. I am anxious to get back to Belle Isle. The last two races have been about fuel, and our staff, led by Duncan [Dayton] and Rob Hill, did another great job of calling the right shot at the end.”
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b):
“Our Lowe’s Acura team had a great strategy and my car felt good at Mosport. We had some great racing in the P2 class. Each race, we'll continue to learn about the Acura chassis on these fast tracks. We had the Lola last year, and the new chassis is very good. We think we can get better with each race. I think we have shown that we can race for the win and that is goal at Detroit.”
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b):
“We had a good race at Mosport. We had to play the fuel game but taking second is good for us. We should have had three straight podium finishes. It was a tough day at Road America because we were looking good. I think we had a faster car than [David] Brabham but then the left rear suspension. I think we are making a lot of gains right now with our Acura engine and chassis. Now I want to get the Lowe’s Acura in victory lane at Detroit. We’ll be competitive. I won in Indy Lights there and almost [second] in Champ Car at Belle Isle.”
FRANCK MONTAGNY (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b):
“We had a fast car at Mosport. But we juts missed on our strategy there. I'm still very disappointed with our finish at Road America, but the past is the past and I can't change anything. Now I will have to focus on my training and on Detroit. I have watched the video the team provided to me and I think I am going to love this circuit. We will be ready to take the XM Acura to a win.”
JAMES ROSSITER (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b):
“I have enjoyed my time with Andretti Green in the XM Acura and feel that Franck and I have been a compliment to each other. We’ve shown the type of speed that it takes to win races. We just need some luck.”
GIL de FERRAN (#66 Panasonic ELS Sound de Ferran Motosports Acura ARX-01b):
“It was particularly cruel when you consider that we missed the checkered flag by just about a second at Mosport. That made us take another lap and we ran out of fuel. It was always going to be tight for us on fuel. But the team did a very good job working the numbers. We thought the race would end one lap sooner. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen today. Our guys did great in calling all the right moves, including getting us back on the lead lap in the early portion of the race. We have been struggling all weekend with the car, but, in the race, it felt good. And our lap times were very good. I was feeling very comfortable in the lead and I had a good rhythm in the cockpit. It felt good to run up front again. I think we can do more of that in the future. It is a tough way to lose. We are ready for Belle Isle now.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 Panasonic ELS Sound de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b):
“It shows how much racing can get you sometimes. We will take a lot from the Mosport weekend. We learned a lot the whole week. We had some problems, but team had a great strategy and the car was very good in the race. I’m anxious for Detroit.”
UPCOMING ALMS RACE DETROIT SPORTS CAR CHALLENGEDATE: August 29-30, 2008TRACK: BELLE ISLE, Detroit, MichiganDISTANCE: 2 Hours, 45 MinutesROUND: 9 of 11 RacesTV: SPEED-TV, Aug. 30, 2:30 p.m. (EDT) LIVE