The American LeMans Series is making its debut at Virginia International Raceway this weekend and leading off the festivities, the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD-ARX-03a Honda of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf took the pole in P1 competition. With Graf behind the wheel, the Denmark native raced around the 4.1-mile road course in a time of 1:35.434 minutes.
In gaining his fifth pole of the year, Graf lowered the track record by 9/10ths of a second. The record was set by Larry Connor in a retired F1 Benetton car during an SVRA event in 2004.
It feels good to get the pole and to set the track record at VIR.
“It feels good to get the pole and to set the track record at VIR,” Graf stated. “This is a beautiful facility with a lot of variety and technical aspects. We had another half second in the car, but we didn’t get to use it. During the test we tried new things in the car, and it worked well for us. It has been a good weekend for us so far.”
Dyson Racing earned the second and fastest times with Guy Smith and Chris Dyson driving. Dyson will compete in both cars during Saturday’s race.
In the P2 class, Martin Plowman had the fastest time of 1:38.043 minutes behind the wheel of the Conquest Endurance Morgan Nissan. David Heinemeier Hansson co-drives with Plowman.
“Every time we are on pole it means we have a fast car,” Plowman said of his third pole of year. “It is all about putting it all together. Today hadn’t been going too well for us until qualifying and we were on edge of losing our patience, so we rolled the dice and it paid off.”
Second in class was the Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker. Bouchut qualified the car and in attempting to gain the pole, he went off course once and spun later on.
Colin Braun blazed to the PC class pole with a time of 1:41.006 minutes, a thousandth of a second ahead of Kyle Marcelli. The team of Thomas Kimber-Smith and Alex Popow took the third spot.
“We got our fast time because we were a tiny big quicker than the other guy, and it says a lot about the series,” Braun said. “We just got a little bit more out of our car.”
Jonathan Bennett co-drives with Braun and Lucas Downs with Marcelli.
In the highly competitive GT class, Johannes van Overbeek gave the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia team its first pole with a rapid lap of 1:45.988 minutes. The pole was also his first atop the speed charts. To gain the pole, he leapfrogged ahead of the BMW Team RLL BMW E92 M3 of Dirk Muller and the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6 of Oliver Gavin.
Scott Sharp co-drives with van Overbeek. A team car with Ed Brown and Guy Cosmo didn’t have such a good day as Brown crashed during qualifications.
Said van Overbeek, “Our Ferrari is tailor-made for this track as the car seems to be well-suited for the fast flowing corners of the course.”
The GTC pole winner was the Green Hornet Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Damien Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre. For Faulkner, he claimed his sixth career pole and fifth of the year. His time was 1:52.426 minutes, besting six others to score the pole position.
Saturday’s four-hour race, the VIR 240, will be flagged off at 2:30 p.m. The race will be streamed live on ESPN3 and will be shown on a delayed basis on ESPN2 on Sunday at 5 p.m.
Joe Jennings, ALMS Correspondent/