Luhr smashes record for Road America pole

Luhr smashes record for Road America pole

Lucas Luhr laid down a new track record on a day when three of the four classes set new low marks. The German put his Audi R10 TDI on overall pole on a circuit where it can ably stretch its legs. Luhr was the only driver to go under 1:47,...

Lucas Luhr laid down a new track record on a day when three of the four classes set new low marks. The German put his Audi R10 TDI on overall pole on a circuit where it can ably stretch its legs. Luhr was the only driver to go under 1:47, timing in at a 1:46.935 (136.28 mph).

#2 Audi Sport North America Audi R10 TDI: Lucas Luhr, Marco Werner.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
"I didn't know I had not won from pole here, so maybe I should have backed up," Luhr joked afterwards in the post-qualifying press conference. "Our cars are well-prepared for tomorrow. But you never know how the race will go with yellows, or stuff that happens on the track. Our plan is to stay in front, and go as quick as we can."

Besides Luhr, teammate Emanuele Pirro also eclipsed last season's P1 track record which was a 1.47.665, set by Allan McNish. Pirro was one-tenth under that but six tenths off the number two Audi, which scored its first overall pole since St. Petersburg back in April.

In P2, seven of the nine entrants broke last year's mark of 1:48.833. Quickest of those was Franck Montagny, the Frenchman driving the Acura ARX- 01B for Andretti Green Racing. Montagny starts on the outside of the front row in his third American Le Mans race, and is already working with his third different co-driver, this time it is ex-Honda F1 prot?g? James Rossiter.

"The car is a good one to drive, but it is quite difficult to keep the balance," Montagny said of his effort. "The racing here is the most fun, and a completely different atmosphere. (James) has done a good job this weekend and provided good feedback to set up the car for qualifying."

Row two is Pirro and Adrian Fernandez, another Acura. Pirro is co-driving this week with Swiss driver Marcel Fassler, making his debut in the number one Audi. Romain Dumas, in the first of the Penske Porsches, starts alongside David Brabham in the Highcroft Acura on the third row. Those two have been the only class winners in P2 this season.

Penske is looking for success after Porsche debuted a new engine development, the Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) engine that increases torque by four percent and power efficiency by five. Only the Penske Porsches have that this race, with the Dyson Racing Porsches due to receive it later on.

#26 Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX-01B Acura: Franck Montagny, James Rossiter.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
A good effort was turned in by Jon Field in the Intersport Lola AER. Field starts 8th, third in P1, ahead of Patrick Long in the second Penske Porsche and the two Dyson Porsches.

The Corvettes, fresh from their bout in Mid-Ohio several weeks ago, share the front row in GT1. On this occasion Oliver Gavin took the honors from Jan Magnussen, a 2:01.235 (120.20 mph) beating a 2:01.876 (119.57). Bell Motorsports' silver Aston Martin DBR9 returns after missing the series' previous round due to accident damage, but the repaired car was three seconds off the pace.

"It is a great track, trying to simulate stuff for Le Mans," Gavin quipped. "The car is a lot lighter on downforce than usual. We found a reasonable balance for qualifying. The Aston doesn't seem to be as quick as others in the past."

In GT2, four cars surpassed last year's qualifying track record set by Jaime Melo at a 2:07.191. Melo nearly reset the mark but was outdone by Dirk Mueller for Tafel Racing. The German's time of 2:06.082 (115.58 mph) edged the Brazilian's 2:06.375 (115.31 mph). The two Ferrari F430 GTs start ahead of Jorg Bergmeister and Dirk Werner, each in Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs.

"I'm really happy, and this is the first pole for the team," Mueller said. "We knew that this morning it was going to be close, since the Porsches gained a lot. But this is something new to us. We were just out for a three lap run, and the car felt enormously good. I was very impressed with that lap time to be honest. We were focusing on tomorrow's setup for the race."

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