PORSCHE, ACURA TOP LONG BEACH GRID OVER MORE POWERFUL LMP1 RACERS; PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER EDGES COMPETITION FOR TOP OVERALL STARTING POSITION --Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsches take top two spots in GT2 qualifying-- LONG BEACH, Calif. --...
PORSCHE, ACURA TOP LONG BEACH GRID OVER MORE POWERFUL LMP1 RACERS; PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER EDGES COMPETITION FOR TOP OVERALL STARTING POSITION
--Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsches take top two spots in GT2 qualifying--
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- April 18 -- Timo Bernhard (Germany), defending LMP2 class co-champion, left no space between his #7 Penske Porsche RS Spyder and the concrete wall on the Long Beach Grand Prix street circuit and shattered the track record by more than a half-second to grab the overall pole for Saturday's Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series race.
The 100-minute race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, April 20, at 12:30 PM Eastern time on ABC-TV.
Bernhard, who will be trying to win his third straight LMP2 class race with co-driver Romain Dumas (France), felt comfortable with the car setup even though it looked like he was running too close to the wall.
"I know I was close to the wall a couple of times, but I could put this car exactly where I wanted it to go," said Bernhard, who finished all 12 ALMS races in 2007 on the podium with co-driver Dumas.
"We weren't sure how the top five or six positions would sort out as no one got a clear lap yesterday, and the track was very slippery. We made some adjustments to the car, and I had four clear laps during qualifying -- I am pleased for the team that their hard work turned into an overall pole," said Bernhard, who earned his 11th ALMS pole.
Second and third overall, and second and third in LMP2, were the Fernandez/Diaz and Brabham/Sharp/Johansson Acuras respectively, with the #6 Patrick Long (USA)/Sascha Maassen (Germany) Penske Porsche RS Spyder fourth in LMP2 and fourth overall.
"Although Sascha and I are not off to the best season start - failing to finish the 12 Hours of Sebring and losing championship points after being penalized at St. Petersburg -- we were pleased with our fourth-place qualifying position," said Long, the only American Porsche factory driver.
"Driving this car is much different than the Porsche 911 I drove here last year, but I felt pretty good by the end of the session," said Long.
In the GT2 class for production-based sports cars, new Porsche factory driver Patrick Pilet (France), who spun twice during this morning's practice, put together the fastest qualifying lap -- a new track record -- to gain the pole for his #46 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Pilet, who will be co-driving with Johannes van Overbeek (USA). The #45 Lizard team Porsche, which grabbed the pole at St. Petersburg with Wolf Henzler (Germany), qualified second today in Long Beach with Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) at the wheel. The Salo/Melo Ferrari was third, and the Mueller/Farnbacher Ferrari fourth.
"This is my first time at Long Beach, and I had to get used to the course this morning, but the team has this car set up perfectly and I put together a good lap," said Pilet, the defending French Porsche Carrera Cup champion.
"We worked together with the other Lizard Porsches during the qualifying session to help each other, and that team effort paid off," he said.
The Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, driven by Porsche test driver Marc Basseng, qualified fifth in class, only three-tenths of a second out of fourth. Porsche Supercup Australia champion Alex Davison, Basseng's co-driver, will start the race tomorrow.
The #44 Flying Lizard Porsche, with Seth Neiman and Lonnie Pechnik at the wheel, qualified eighth in GT2, while the VICI Racing Porsche, qualified by Craig Stanton, with Ruben Carrapatoso and Nathan Swartzbaugh as co-drivers, qualified tenth.