Guy Smith wins 6th pole for Mazda at Lime Rock Park

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Lisa Davidson, ALMS Correspondent

Bill Auberlen grabs GT pole for BMW

At the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix qualifications this afternoon held at the famed Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT, new records were set as 30 cars vied for their respective class poles.

First to qualify was the GT Challenge class with 6 entries and the fastest time was posted by driver Leh Keen, driver of the #22 Porsche 911 of Alex Job Racing with a lap of 55.195 seconds. Keen commented on the importance of the class pole, saying, “for sure, this track is so short of course the position is really important. Starting Cooper in the front we’ll want to get off to a good start”.

The P1 cars have a bit more speed this year. This should make for an interesting race!

Lucas Luhr

Next on the track was the largest class, the GT’s 11 cars. Bill Auberlen, in what will be his 100th series start, claimed the pole decisively with a lap time of 50.920 seconds. This is the BMW driver’s second class pole, and he drives for Team BMW RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan). The affable driver commented “ we rolled off the start really strong. We got really strong, the next session we got better. The session went green and we banged a good lap out. The session went red and we’re lucky that the car was already there”. In other words, while their car is fast, luck was the deciding factor with this pole.

The third group out was the Prototype Challenge class of 6 cars who got their own 15 minute session. Kyle Marcelli, a Canadian driver who pilots an Oreca FLM09 with a Chevrolet engine and Michelin tires, claimed the class pole with a time of 47.249, a class record. Marcelli indicated that “Hopefully this marks to the start of a really successful second half of the season.”

This set the stage for the combined qualification session for the Prototype 1 and 2 classes. Together this group consists of 7 cars. Level 5 Motorsports #055 entry, driven by Christophe Bouchut, in a HPD ARX-03b, took the P2 pole with a time of 46.539 seconds. After the session, Bouchut talked about learning the challenging New England track. He commented “There is no room for mistakes. If you make a mistake, you pay in cash. Everyone knows, you think to stay on the track first before looking for the performance”.

#55 BMW Team RLL BMW E92 M3: Jorg Muller, Bill Auberlen
#55 BMW Team RLL BMW E92 M3: Jorg Muller, Bill Auberlen

Photo by: James M. Holland

The heavily coveted P1 pole was claimed by Dyson Racing’s Guy Smith, driving a Lola Mazda with Dunlop tires at a blistering time of 44.107 seconds, a full tenth of a second quicker than their arch rivals, the Muscle Milk Honda entry driven by Lucas Luhr. Smith was not surprised by the fast times recorded for his car or his friendly rival, Klaus Graf, saying “It seems to be the same with Klaus and myself. It’s a bit nip and tuck and very entertaining. The P1 cars have a bit more speed this year.” This should make for an interesting race!

My Puritan ancestors did not allow for much of anything on the Sabbath, and their spirit lives on all these centuries later because no one can race at Lime Rock Park on Sunday. This is a fairly long winded way of telling you that the race will be contested tomorrow, on Saturday. Fortunately, there will be live coverage on ESPN3.com, and ESPN2 will carry a same day shortened version of the race a few hours later.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Article type Qualifying reports
Tags alms, auberlen, bmw, davidson, dyson racing, featured, lime rock, mazda, smith

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