David Brabham heads to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and one of his favourite places in the USA for round three of the American Le Mans Series on May 22, aiming to extend Highcroft Racing’s current joint lead in the LMP title fight.
Standing at the top of the championship table seems a familiar position for the 44 year-old sportscar legend when visiting the picturesque circuit in Monterey, California. On his last outing, Brabham sealed the 2009 championship spoils with a final season podium of third overall and second in LMP1.
A little over six months later and the British-born Australian resident of Henley-on-Thames (UK) returns to Laguna Seca drawing level on points with the Porsche RS Spyder pairing of Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf, after teammate Simon Pagenaud seized a last lap victory reminiscent of Brabham’s stellar 2008 LMP2 class win last time out at Long Beach.
Set for the new six-hour race showdown in Monterey, Brabham is poised once again for victory, aiming to consolidate his and the team’s championship position with another hefty points haul.
Laguna Seca will also see the full complement of Highcroft Racing drivers back in action since the opening Sebring round, with Marino Franchitti once again joining Brabham and Pagenaud.
“I always love racing at Laguna Seca,” said Brabham. “It’s a great track in a lovely area — I feel really at home when visiting the Monterey peninsula.
“The great thing is that the HPD ARX-01c will suit the track very well as we’re always fast and the car is very strong. I enjoy it there, as does Simon and Marino.
“Both of my new teammates have settled into the team well, as we knew they would, and they are both doing a great job. Simon had a cracking drive at Long Beach to put pressure on the Aston Martin and we are two races in to the season standing on equal lead points. So this will be another important race and everything is going well.”
As well as forming another pivotal round of the challenging ALMS calendar, the new six-hour Laguna Seca race marks the last ALMS outing before the teams break to compete in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours, another title earned by Brabham in a stunning 2009 season.
“Obviously it’s a different format at Laguna Seca this year with a six hour race but it’s another good long race for us in terms of preparation for Highcroft Racing’s debut at Le Mans, which looms next month,” continues Brabham.
“The team are performing brilliantly and every race they just get better and better. I don’t see any reason why we can’t do well at Laguna Seca. The goal each time we sit down as a team is to win the event so that’s what we’ll be pushing ourselves to do.
“The car has proven to be pretty reliable. What it hasn’t done yet is 24 hours non-stop, so we won’t know until Le Mans how it really performs. But we have done Sebring followed by another 12 hour test and we got through that very well. Sebring is a gruelling circuit so the car took quite a pounding and Le Mans is probably only 60% of that, so we still look good for reliability at Le Mans.”
The previous round on the streets of Long Beach hailed the first outing for the newly combined ALMS LMP class, giving all competitors the first opportunity to see how the LMP2 cars faired against the more powerful LMP1 teams.
Brabham said; “The street circuits tend to favour a smaller, lighter car, but anyone watching could see the speed differential on the straights between the LMP1 and LMP2 cars was massive – too much really for other circuits.
“I think tracks like Laguna Seca, where there aren’t too many long straights that can hurt us too much, will make for a more even playing field. The longer circuits, such as Salt Lake City, Mosport and Petit Le Mans, will be the ones where we could struggle but we will wait and see how the aero kit works out for us, which should be well timed for Le Mans and the end of the ALMS season.
“I see the championship going down to the wire this year. I don’t see us dominating, as I think some tracks will lend themselves to other cars. When we’ve got the new aero kit I’d like to think that will put us on an even keel with other teams, but we won’t know that until we get to those circuits. For now we’re just fully focussed on the next round.”
Brabham will hit the track in testing at Laguna Seca on Thursday, May 20, followed by official practice then qualifying at 3:55pm PT on Friday. The green flag will fall for six-hours of action-packed racing at 2:30pm PT on Saturday.
Keeping to its edict of being a championship ‘For the Fans’, the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón will stream the full six-hour race at 5:30pm ET/2:30pm PT on Saturday, May 22.
The race marks the first time that a full ALMS round will air around the globe online. The Series will partner with TodoCast.tv, one of the USA’s leading open access online video platforms for live and archived video content. The sights from Mazda Raceway will sync with John Hindhaugh’s play-by-call on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche, a production of Radio Show Ltd.
Simply register via http://americanlemans.com/live but be quick as only 10,000 slots are open worldwide.
Live race audio is also available online at www.radiolemans.com while the full event schedule, live timing, and the latest ALMS news can be accessed via http://www.americanlemans.com/.
© RIF | ALMS