'Wheels Down' test
Patrón Highcroft Racing's 2009 American Le Mans Series preparations continued at the historic Sebring International Raceway yesterday as Scott Sharp, David Brabham and Dario Franchitti completed the final day of action at the 'Wheels Down' winter test.
The trio recorded a total of 69 laps of the 17 turn, 3.7 mile Florida circuit with the new LMP1 class Acura ARX-02a - recording the second fastest time of the day.
David Brabham was behind the wheel in the morning session when the #9 Patrón Highcroft car recorded a time of 1 minute, 46.157 seconds.
Sebring International Raceway will host the opening race of the 2009 championship on March 21 - 48 days away.
This year's event will be the 57th running of the famous 12-hour classic at the Sebring circuit which began its life as a United States Army Air Forces training base in 1941.
The new Acura ARX-02a had its public debut at this week's American Le Mans Series test. Patrón Highcroft Racing has graduated to the LMP1 class in 2009 with Acura after recording four LMP2 victories last season including an overall win at Lime Rock Park.
SCOTT SHARP"It was another good day for the Patrón Highcroft team. We were able to run a bunch of laps and I did a long run which is always good to accomplish."I was able to get a really good feel for the direction of both the car and the tires."We continued to learn more about the car and work on different issues. "We still have one more day in Sebring where we will get to run on the short course tomorrow and we should be able to pile on a lot more miles."The team will then come back in a few weeks time to do some endurance running. The gap between this test and the next will allow the team to affect a few different areas and hopefully we will be able to cure a couple of the gremlins we have had before returning to Sebring."
DAVID BRABHAM"We are making good progress and we are getting to understand the car a lot more as we run."The Acura ARX-02a is getting more and more reliable and we are learning so much about the car which is ideal, because we haven't got much time before the Sebring race. We only have one more test to go, but this week has been very good."We have jumped into a new car which is very different in concept and we are at the very beginning of the learning process. It doesn't respond the same way the old car does and it certainly has its strengths and its weaknesses but we have to keep working on being as competitive as we can before the first race."
DARIO FRANCHITTI"I doubled the amount of laps I had done in the car today which is always a good thing. I am getting the hang of it and getting my seat sorted out which is a big thing for a 12 hour race to ensure all the drivers are comfortable."We are starting to understand and know where we need to improve the package. It is also becoming more reliable."There is always a certain amount of compromise in sharing a car with two other drivers in a race like Sebring - for starters, both David and Scott left foot brake, and I right foot brake."I am really particular about my seat and cockpit padding. Making sure everyone is secure and comfortable in the car is really important."