Patrón Highcroft Win Clinches Manufacturers Title; Fernandez, Diaz Take Drivers Crown
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada — David Brabham and Scott Sharp are familiar with the victory lane at the fast Mosport International Raceway, northeast of Toronto.
Both Acura drivers have won at the Canada track quite often.
On Sunday in American Le Mans Series’ eighth 2009 race, the Acura pair made it look easy by driving the No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a prototype sports car to another Mosport winner’s circle celebration in the two-hour, 45-minute Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport.
The victory for Brabham and Sharp was their second consecutive ALMS overall after a win at Road America two weeks ago, and extended their LMP1 class point advantage to 17 with two races remaining on the 2009 ALMS calendar. The duo also won at Mosport last year in the LMP2 division.
For the fifth time in 2009, Acura cars scored a 1-2-3 sweep overall. The Patrón Highcroft Racing triumph also helped clinch Acura’s first the LMP1 engine and chassis manufacturer championship.
Gil de Ferran took the lead early Sunday in his No. 66 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-02a, but a gearbox issue forced for the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner to pit early in the 131-lap race. De Ferran and co-driver Simon Pagenaud made seven pit stops throughout the event to nurse their machine home for second overall. Pagenaud still managed to record the race’s fastest single lap.
The Lowe’s Fernandez Acura team, with drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz, recorded third overall with the No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b sports car and won their seventh LMP2 class race of the year. The popular Mexican pair clinched the LMP2 drivers championship with the victory over the Dyson Mazda of Marino Franchitti and Butch Leitzinger.
Fernandez survived a pit violation late in the feature, and trimmed a 15-second deficient in just twelve laps in capturing his team’s seventh LMP2 class triumph.
The LMP1 championship battle between Patrón Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports moves to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans on Sept. 26 in the 1,000-mile classic.
"This is our second straight win of the year and second straight here at Mosport. While it wasn’t as challenging as the Road America, you always have to put yourself into position to win. We did that today. We have had some tough breaks in races this year, and, today, we got a break with the de Ferran team having trouble with the gearbox in their car. It is great to clinch the manufacturers title for Acura in LMP1. I’m glad our team was able to secure the championship for them here today.”
SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): “I just love racing here at Mosport. I won three straight years in the 1990s in Trans-Am and, now, two in a row in ALMS. My stint was difficult earlier with the rain and the cool temperatures. The Michelin tires were excellent once we got some heat in them. But it was tough to do that in the beginning of the race. This win extends our point margin with two races to go. That is very important for us.”
GIL de FERRAN (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "It was a real shame today. We had a very good car. I was able to get by Scott [Sharp] at the start and push hard in the slippery conditions and open a gap. Unfortunately, we developed a leak in the gearbox, which meant we had to make numerous pit stops to continuously refill the gearbox with oil. The crew and Simon did a great job to continue to preserve to do that. It’s important for us to gain every point and try to fight on in the next two races.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): “The team did a fantastic job to prepare a fast race car, and I was able to go as quickly through some corners as I did in qualifying. We had the fastest lap of the race, and that shows the pace we had. This track is really thrilling with all the high speed corners and the Michelins were amazing on such a difficult track for tires. We had a tough day with the gearbox issue but we’ll take second.“
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): “I was pushing very hard at the end of the race. I got a penalty for speeding in the pits and had to make a stop-and-go late. I was able to come from 15 seconds but to less than one second. We had a good handling car today. I wanted to pressure the Dyson guys. They had trouble at the end, and we scored our seventh win of the year. It’s been a dream season for us.”
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): “Early in the race, the car was pushing a little too much. It was raining a little and I was running with the Mazda cars. We were able to get better fuel mileage and that helped us today. Our Lowe’s team has been fantastic with race strategy and today was another example of working the strategy to perfection. It feels great to clinch the driver’s championship today. Adrian was my idol as I came through the ranks. It is a privilege to win the championship with him and his team.” ACURA QUOTES: DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a):