ELKHART LAKE, WI, Friday, August 17, 2012: After an intense qualifying session for tomorrow’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Road America Road Race Showcase, Tom Kimber-Smith, wheeling the #06 Soloson Import ORECA FLM09, landed a second-place Prototype Challenge (PC) class starting spot (seventh overall).
Kimber-Smith’s lap of 1:57.790 at an average speed of 123.718 mph around the historic 14-turn, 4.048-mile Road America circuit was set at the very last lap of the 15-minute qualifying session and only .6 of a second off of the pole position. This is Kimber-Smith’s first time at Road America and the third time in 2012 that he’s been paired with lead driver Alex Popow in the #06 machine.
Popow, the current ALMS PC driver championship points leader, has multiple challenges ahead for Saturday, as he’s not only chasing titles in the ALMS, but also in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype category. To maintain his standings in both series, Popow is doing double-duty this weekend at Road America as well as at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve near Montreal, Canada.
On Saturday, Popow will start the GRAND-AM event in Montreal, and as soon as he completes his first stint, he’ll turn the car over to his co-driver, take a helicopter to an airplane and get to Road America as close to the 2:30 p.m. (CT) start time of the four-hour race as possible. Kimber-Smith will take first shift in the #06 machine to allow for travel disparities, but in case of a real issue with Popow, team owner / founder Jon Bennett has been entered to drive the #06 car as well as his regular #05 Composite Resources machine.
Unfortunately, the #05 car of Bennett and co-driver Colin Braun suffered mechanical failure in the final practice session, which took place just prior to qualifying. Unable qualify for the race, the #05 was placed in seventh spot in the PC class and 34th overall – literally at the back of the pack. When the race begins, it will be up to the drivers to dig through slower GT and GTC traffic to compete for top ranking at the event.
Earlier in the day the #05 machine set the fastest practice lap with Braun at the wheel, and the car, which snapped its accessory belt five minutes prior to the end of practice, will be fully repaired for the morning warmup session and the race.
The four-hour Road America Road Race Showcase takes place at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, August 18th.
Source: CORE autosport