Brabham holds off Graf for Lime Rock pole

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Brabham holds off Graf for Lime Rock pole

David Brabham scored his second Lime Rock pole on the wet Connecticut track today, and his 13th in the American Le Mans Series. However, it turned out to be far from easy as the Highcroft HPD driver had to hold off the repeated assaults of Klaus...

David Brabham scored his second Lime Rock pole on the wet Connecticut track today, and his 13th in the American Le Mans Series. However, it turned out to be far from easy as the Highcroft HPD driver had to hold off the repeated assaults of Klaus Graf on his qualifying position.

#1 Patron Highcroft Racing Honda Performance Development ARX-01c: David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud.
Photo by Adriano Manocchia.

"It was certainly tough in these conditions," the popular Australian veteran recalled. "We were having trouble with aquaplaning. We really had to fight the car sometimes and snap back. As the track dried, the car was changing, we made some adjustments to get rid of the under steer I was having."

Brabham opened the bidding for the overall pole with a first serious lap time of 1:00.233 just as the rain stopped, two minutes into the LMP session. The next LMP competitor was Graf, driving the Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder, just missing the provisional pole spot with a time of 1:00.236, mere three thousandths behind Brabham.

Brabham then came out and knocked nearly another second off his time as the track began to dry, with times of 59.629, 59.549 and 59.400 flat. But Graf, too, dropped into the 59s, forcing Brabham to take one more run for the pole as the racing line continued to dry in the dying minutes of the session. 58.106 was his final and pole-winning lap, just before the checkered flag fell to mark the end of the session.

"I knew Klaus would be our closest competition," Brabham said. "They have less weight, more downforce -- we've moved to lower downforce -- we were certainly up against him and these conditions. Like I said before, the whole team is getting stronger and stronger and this was a fantastic performance by the team."

Graf was just six-tenths behind Brabham at the flag, but it was a could-have-should-have-would-have end to the session as the German missed his braking point at Turn 1 on his final run and had to abandon his hot lap. Still, it was an impressive wet-weather performance in its own right, and Graf finished more than a second ahead of the Dyson Lola-Mazda of Guy Smith.

As for the Lola-Judd of Drayson Racing, Jonny Cocker spun off at Turn 2 before being able to make a final run, and had to settle for fourth in class with a time of 1:00.092, 0.141 seconds behind Smith.

Christophe Bouchut was sixth overall and topped the LMP Challenge class with a time of 1:03.020 -- not a pole threat, to be sure, but just one tenth behind the fifth-placed LMP competitor.

#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long.
Photo by Adriano Manocchia.

"It's all a combination of the car, driver, and team," Bouchut explained. "Everything is working so well, and I think that is also why we are leading the championship. We worked really hard in all of the practices for the set-up. I was pushing the maximum and the results were great."

On the short and twisty Lime Rock circuit, the LMGT class grid turned into a Porsche 1-2, with Flying Lizard's Patrick Long beating out Wolf Henzler in the Team Falken Tire Porsche by 0.474 seconds. Jaime Melo was third in class in the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430, just 13 thousandths behind Hentzler.

"Lime Rock is tight and small but it really deserves a lot of credit," Long smiled. "Skip (Barber) has done a great job improving this facility and the paving. But it's still Lime Rock, it's fast, it's dangerous."

On a circuit the size of Lime Rock, the compact GT class cars are also a threat to the LMP Challenge competitors, and Long's time beat out four of the six Oreca FLM09 entries in that class.

In the LMGT Challenge class Jeroen Bleekemolen took the class pole position ahead of Andy Lally.

The two-hour, 45-minute race will go green tomorrow at 2:05 PM EDT.

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