Delving into a successful title defense with PHR
It’s been a whirlwind month of David Brabham, even after wrapping up a second straight LMP championship in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Brabs recounts the fight to the title, how he and teammates Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti, and the whole of Patrón Highcroft Racing proved themselves over and over as the best of the best.
We are the Champions
It’s an amazing feeling and a great accomplishment to clinch back-to-back American Le Mans Series titles with Highcroft Racing. It’s not an easy thing to do but we did it by delivering perfect podiums and winning the final race of the season to finish the year on a massive high.
We’ve obviously worked hard all season. Considering the way the rules were set it was always going to be even tougher than last year. For the team to have such a strong run without any hiccups at all was amazing. We only had one technical problem at the 12 Hours of Sebring where we still managed to finish second. It was a race that got away and we should have easily won but we responded from that with a faultless run for the rest of the season.
Highcroft Racing has done an amazing job and to win consecutive titles is really important for everyone in the team and the future of the team.
It all came down to the last race where the team performed perfectly. We took the title exactly the way we wanted to. We treated Petit Le Mans like any other race and concentrated on winning. We came through with such a strong performance that we took the championship, the P2 class win and fourth overall. It was another demonstration of how good Highcroft is.
High points of the season obviously include winning four races and having some fantastic dices, like at Long Beach when Simon took the lead on the last lap. That set the tone for the next couple of wins before other teams got their acts together.
As the competition got tougher it was harder for us to win. The tricky part for us was trying to go to each race with the belief to win when the rules were against us. We didn’t give up and got podiums every race.
The effort people made around my 100th ALMS start was also memorable. For me it was just another race, so it took me a bit by surprise. But I was very grateful and the thing I will take away from that is the way people responded to that achievement. It was very touching and it meant a lot to me as we are there to do a job. We finished second and kept the championship going. It was a great experience and to top off the year with the championship win is amazing.
Simon was new to the team this year and sometimes it takes time for a new teammate to settle in and understand how the team operates, and for the team to understand him too. But Simon had been part of the Acura family for a while – a fierce competitor that pushed us a lot.
Having him join us was fantastic as he contributed so much to the team. We worked very well together. We’re friends off the circuit but working together we got the chemistry right early on and he did an exceptional job.
In the longer races we had Marino [Franchitti] to support us and he certainly demonstrated what a great talent he is. In the Highcroft environment he was able to learn and blossom even more. He did a great job. All three drivers contributed massively to the championship success. The fact that the car didn’t have one scratch on it in nine races plus Le Mans is pretty incredible and it means that we all did a good job.
As I’ve said many times before, I’ve seen Highcroft Racing rise from a small team to one of the top teams in the USA. To be part of that growth has been very enjoyable, both in terms of professional and personal relationships. To end the year with back-to-back titles is justification of the hard work and effort that Duncan Dayton has put in to create one of the best teams in America. Anyone who thinks about sports car racing thinks about Highcroft Racing.
When I look at the progression we have made in terms of pushing green technology, it means a lot to me because of the letter I wrote to Don Panoz and Scott Atherton in 2004. For us at Highcroft to win the 2010 MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge is another special achievement and one we are very proud of.
Racing has to change because the world is changing. If we don’t change with it we’re going to have problems in the future. Certainly sportscar racing, because of the flexible type of rules we have, allows for different manufacturers to come into a competitive playing field to test their technology, which will eventually feed down to the consumer. We can play a vital role in that process and we’re starting to maximise that. It’s good for us, in the American Le Mans Series, and for the environment as well.
It’s been a memorable season all round. But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of my special family who go without seeing their husband and dad a fair bit during the racing year. So, my huge thanks go to my wife Lisa and my boys, Sam and Finn.