Road Atlanta: de Ferran Motorsport qualifying report

Braselton, Ga, (Sept 25, 2009) Simon Pagenaud put on a determined display today to top the times for the petrol-fuelled cars in his no.66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a during qualifying for tomorrows annual Petit Le Mans ...

Braselton, Ga, (Sept 25, 2009) Simon Pagenaud put on a determined display today to top the times for the petrol-fuelled cars in his no.66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a during qualifying for tomorrows annual Petit Le Mans Classic.

The 25-year-old Frenchman has shown great pace throughout the official practices leading up to todays all important qualifying session. His best lap today a time of 1.08.348 - was just one tenth of a second away from splitting the diesel-powered quartet ahead and 1.2 seconds faster than the nearest petrol-fuelled car. He also ran consistently over the 12 laps completed in qualifying and feels confident that his Acura will shine in tomorrows grueling ten hour (or 1000 mile) race around the tough 2.45 mile Road Atlanta road circuit.

I was pushing really hard, said Simon. The car was consistently improving each lap and there was no degradation which is a great sign for the race. I really think I drew everything out of the car out there and it felt fantastic. There is going to be a great battle with the diesel-engined Audis and Peugeots tomorrow and I believe we are in with a good chance. We are just one tenth of a second from a car that has won several 24 hour Le Mans races so we have proved we have the speed and I am confident the car has the consistency. I cant wait!

Fellow driver and owner of de Ferran Motorsports, Gil de Ferran is as buoyant as his young team mate. The double IndyCar Champion and former Indianapolis 500 winner knows the challenge ahead but believes his young team is more than ready for the battle ahead.

Simon did a great job out there, said Gil. His times were consistently quick and he was really happy with the handling. We know we are losing at least 25km/h on the straight to the diesels so that tells you how good this car is in the corners! They may have the straight line speed advantage but we feel this is an uphill battle and we are well in there with a chance to shine. The tires seems to be holding up really well as they did at the beginning of the year at the Sebring 12 hour race. The three drivers myself, Simon and Scott Dixon who is joining us this weekend are all running at a similar pace. I think we will be a strong package tomorrow.

As well as the honor of winning such a prestigious race, de Ferran has also the small issue of a championship crown to consider. de Ferran Motorsports is currently lying second in the American Le Mans Series Championship table, just 17 points behind the leader and with two more events (including tomorrows race)still to go, the series title is very much in this teams sights. Ever the professional driver, Gil is very aware of the situation but determined to approach tomorrows race in his normal attacking frame of mind.

We have no strategy as far as the championship is concerned at the moment, commented de Ferran. I feel the way to approach any race is to go into it in the most positive frame of mind with the view to win. If a situation arises during tomorrows ten hours where some strategic decisions regarding the championship are needed then we will face them at the time. I dont believe in starting any race on the back foot. We are out there to win.

The 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6 is scheduled to start at 11.20am EDT tomorrow (Saturday 26th September) and will be televised flag to flag live on Speed TV with audio coverage on XM Channel 242 in the States and televised live on Motors TV in Europe.

-credit: dfm

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Series ALMS
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Simon Pagenaud