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Pagenaud, Highcroft Win In Utah

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 11 2010

Simon Pagenaud heads to victory in Utah on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer

Simon Pagenaud and Patron Highcroft Racing team had to bide their time after winning the pole, but came on strong at the finish to win Round 4 of the American Le Mans Series at the Miller Motorsports Park. Pagenaud’s final 12-second pit stop gave him the lead with a little less than 30 minutes remaining and he maintained the margin to beat the Lola-Judd of Drayson Racing by 19 seconds.

“The team was doing a perfect job in the pits,” said Pagenaud. The Frenchman set the fastest race lap in his HPD ARX-01c shortly before the finish of the two hour, 45-minute race, but was hampered by traffic much of the event. “The car didn’t have the performance when I didn’t have a clear lap, what can I say?”

The Drayson Racing team came close to winning in its fourth race in this year’s revised LMP category with Jonny Cocker and Emanuele Pirro driving, the latter due to a non-racing foot injury to team principal Lord Paul Drayson. Leader Pirro set what was then the fastest lap time for the race shortly before his final pit stop, but the team’s longer re-fueling with 44 minutes remaining left him in arrears.

HPD’s starting driver David Brabham was swarmed on the long front straight by turbo entries that fare better in the higher altitudes of Salt Lake City and by the superior torque of Drayson’s Judd. After falling to fifth on the opening lap, the Highcroft team returned to first on the first round of stops, but once again was swarmed on the re-start. Pirro took the lead with one hour remaining and before the final round of stops began. At that time, Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda moved up to third, but it retired with 27 minutes remaining.

In GT, the switch by Ferrari to E85 fuel proved to be a powerful bonus on the pit straight, allowing Risi Competizione veterans “Gimmi” Bruni and Jaime Melo to steadily build their lead despite a split pit strategy by BMW and three safety car periods. “We could keep the pace comfortable,” said Melo. Rahal Letterman Racing’s Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner Jr. finished 20 seconds behind in second. The Corvette of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen recovered from a late pit violation penalty to finish third.

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 11 2010
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