BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO (August 30, 2009) The fastest venue in the American Le Mans Series produced another historic result Sunday. Powered by VP’s StreetBlaze 100 unleaded racing fuel, David Brabham and Scott Sharp drove their Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a to an overall victory at the Grand Prix of Mosport and clinched the LMP1 manufacturer championship for Acura, the marque’s first in the American Le Mans Series. Luis Diaz and Adrian Fernandez, also powered by StreetBlaze 100, won in LMP2 for the seventh time in eight races to wrap up the class’ drivers title in their Acura ARX-01b.
Yes, it was quite a day north of the border. Brabham and Sharp drove a trouble-free race to beat the de Ferran Motorsports Acura of team boss Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud by two laps. The de Ferran XM Acura led the first half-hour before losing gearbox oil, an issue that plagued the Pagenaud-de Ferran duo throughout.
Brabham and Sharp won for the second straight year at Mosport; they were LMP2 victors last season. “It’s a little ebb and flow,” said Sharp, a winner three times at Mosport in Trans-Am. “We think we gave a few races away this year. We definitely would have won at Long Beach and should have won Lime Rock. We helped contribute to (de Ferran’s) four-race win streak. To get a little bit of that back is a case of ‘what goes-around-can-come-around’. The team really rallied well at Lime Rock. We kept our heads up and wanted to keep doing what we’re doing. We rolled in here after Road America (an overall victory two weeks ago) with the same feeling.”
The sixth 1-2 finish for Acura in P1 was more than enough to wrap up the chassis and engine crowns. But there is more at stake for the two Acura teams. Brabham and Sharp extended their driver’s championship lead to 17 points with 55 points remaining over the next two events.
“We knew they were potentially going to have a problem in the race,” Brabham said of the de Ferran crew. “They had some issues in the practices, and we all talk. We were trying not to focus on them but focus on us and getting the job done.”
The Patrón Highcroft Acura also was the prototype winner of the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge, an award for overall race performance and energy efficiency. Intersport Racing’s Jon Field, who battled for the overall lead early with Gil de Ferran, and Clint Field placed third in P1 and fourth overall in their Lola B06/10-AER.
Fernandez and Diaz grabbed the class driver championship after a fantastic battle with Dyson Racing’s Marino Franchitti and Butch Leitzinger. The Dyson Lola B09/86-Mazda coupe led by less than a second with 12 minutes left before the engine let go and forced Leitzinger to pull the car off track and to a stop at Turn 2.
Franchitti had led the race overall early in his stint. The Lola-Mazda and the Acura went back and forth in the last hour, battling through slower - and faster - traffic. The victory (and championship) appeared in doubt after Fernandez was penalized for speeding in pit lane at the 2:10 running mark.
“We knew that the Dyson car was very fast. We couldn’t stay with them,” said team owner Fernandez. “The traffic was the difference. With no traffic I could stay kind of close. When the penalty happened…the first thing I did was trying to regain my focus. We were 15 seconds back and at that point I didn’t know what was going on with the Mazda but we were catching them quite quickly. I think they turned the motor down a little bit until the point I was right behind him. I could start to smell burning and thought maybe something was wrong.”
Both the Dyson cars led in class during the opening stint. Chris Dyson pitted from the lead at the 48-minute mark but crashed hard at Turn 1 a couple laps later. That put the focus on the remaining Dyson coupe and the Acura.
“For me, I think it was a matter of being patient,” Diaz said. “We know we can’t fight against these guys in the first part. It’s a matter of patience and having good pace. I have to thank Adrian because he is a great boss, a great teammate and great friend. It has been a great three years with him and I think this is great that we have this together. When I was growing up racing, he was my idol. Winning this championship with him means a lot to me and it means a lot to people in Mexico. We can compete against anybody. We have a great team all around.”