David Brabham laid down a 1:05.323 (135.517 mph) to notch the pole at Mosport International Raceway for the Highcroft Racing team. It was the second overall pole this season for the LMP1 Acura ARX-02a, bringing to an end the sweep of the...
David Brabham laid down a 1:05.323 (135.517 mph) to notch the pole at Mosport International Raceway for the Highcroft Racing team. It was the second overall pole this season for the LMP1 Acura ARX-02a, bringing to an end the sweep of the qualifying leaderboard by the de Ferran Motorsports Acura. The Duncan Dayton-owned team last held the top spot at Long Beach, the third round for the American Le Mans Series in 2009. Brabham held the honors at the California street circuit in April.
On a sad note, Brabham dedicated his pole to his Australian friend, "This win is for an Australian hero...Frank Gardner. He was very close to our family and I was very sad to hear of his passing."
Today he bested Simon Pagenaud by only 0.074 seconds. It was a good run by both Acura team drivers during qualifying. The two rivals for this year's LMP1 championship will aim for the lead on the short historic road course tomorrow as they head into the first turn but both teams are aware this is an endurance race of two hours and 45 minutes.
"You can see how close it is with the points available. Every time we are out there, our two cars are neck and neck," Brabham said. "When you are on the limit around this place, there is no margin for error. It's one of those daunting race tracks that gets your attention, and there are very few that make you dig deep. The challenges here are phenomenal. The Patron Highcroft Racing guys gave me a good car to grab pole."
Brabham and Scott Sharp currently hold the points lead over Pagenaud and Gil de Ferran by 13 points with only three races left to contest, including Sunday's challenge. With Audi, Peugeot and others tossing their hats into the game for the Petit Le Mans race, the two top teams will face an addition challenge, which the both did at the season opener in Sebring. It was Acura's debut at the March classic so the two teams are ready to take on the European teams come September.
Pagenaud's fastest qualifying lap was 1:05.397 (134.364 mph). "As always, the crew has done a fantastic job - the Acura was designed for tracks like this. It's a great thrill to drive such high-speed corners with such a good car," he said.
Third in the P1 class was the Intersport Racing father/son team. Jon Field and Clint Field will start on the second row, fourth overall in their Lola B06/10 AER.
Third overall and first in LMP2 was taken by Marino Franchitti for the No. 20 Dyson Racing Mazda Lola B09-86. The Scotsman laid down his flying lap at 1:06.379 (133.361 mph). Franchitti and Butch Leitzinger handed boss Rob Dyson the team's first victory in the Mazda-powered car at Dyson's home race at Lime Rock Park. While the Dyson team has many race wins, including at Mosport, the team would like to notch a second one and Mosport is not far from their home base in New York.
"This track is my No.1 in the world. Spa and the Nordschliefe are close to it. I really enjoy qualifying here. It is very intense but very satisfying if you get it right," said Franchitti. "The BP Mazda guys are working really hard and it is nice to get this for them. This is nice and we hope to carry this over to the race. A 1-2 finish is something they deserve."
The second Dyson Mazda will start second in P2 and fifth overall with a time of 1:06.853 (132.416 mph). Chris Dyson and Guy Smith are looking for their first win this season as the team continues to progress in the development in their first season campaigning the Mazda Lola.
"Everybody has to understand that we were assembling the cars at Sebring and we have been progressing since then. The next result is that we have been chipping away at all the issues and problems," said Rob Dyson. "There has been a lot of testing and development. The car has been off the truck the last few events. Both Marino and Chris like the facility and running here. I'm really pleased with the ability we have had to take a car that was virtually non-existent and make it our own."
The points leading team, Fernandez Racing, will start third in their P2 Acura ARX-01b with a time of 1:06.944 (132.236 mph). Luis Diaz qualified the car today as both he and Adrian Fernandez hold positive thoughts for Sunday's race. If they finish better than Franchitti and Leitzinger, they will clinch the P2 title.
"We made a lot of changes in the right direction for qualifying. At this track, you really have only four turns because there are a lot of flat-out corners and, if you take that out of the equation, you need a lot of horsepower here. That made a lot of difference today. I was running flat-out everywhere," said Diaz. "We may not have the fastest car but we have a good race car for tomorrow and, hopefully, with strategy and good fuel mileage we can beat them."
The hotly-contested LMGT2 class has seen a shift since the break allowing the series teams with invitations to run the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche and Ferrari are finding the BMW gaining ground in the debut of the new M3 E92.
In the class qualifying session at Mosport, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing team not only took the pole, they landed the top two fastest times in a repeat performance; the first all front row for the team was at the last event in Wisconsin.
The difference was the driver/car combination plus a margin of just 0.129 seconds. At Road America, it was Joey Hand in the No. 90 taking the GT2 pole. Today, the honor went to Dirk Muller in the No. 92 M3 with his best lap at 1:17.528 (114.183 mph). Hand's best was a 1:17.657 (113.994 mph).
"We have taken the momentum from Elkhart Lake where we really broke through. It didn't really look good yesterday and this morning in the wet. The GT2 field is so competitive and close together," said Muller who shares the 92 BMW with Tommy Milner.
Bill Auberlen and Hand handed the team their first victory at the last event. "I made a tiny mistake in the last corner and left a bit of time on the track, but I am glad it's our own car that beat me. The critical thing to success at this track is avoiding contact," said Hand. "If the weather turns wet, it will be certainly be a dicey race. The key is to stay clean."