BRABHAM SHOCKS AUDI AND PORSCHE WITH LAST-LAP POLE FOR ACURA IN QUALIFYING FOR SATURDAY'S LONE STAR GRAND PRIX IN HOUSTON Highcroft Team Records Acura 2nd Straight Overall ALMS Pole Position Friday HOUSTON -- For the second consecutive week,...
BRABHAM SHOCKS AUDI AND PORSCHE WITH LAST-LAP POLE FOR ACURA IN QUALIFYING FOR SATURDAY'S LONE STAR GRAND PRIX IN HOUSTON
Highcroft Team Records Acura 2nd Straight Overall ALMS Pole Position Friday
HOUSTON -- For the second consecutive week, an Acura LMP2 sports car team stunned the American Le Mans Series with a dramatic last-lap pole position run by David Brabham. Brabham drove the No.9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a to the top overall qualifying position Friday on the 1.7-mile, 10-turn circuit around Reliant Stadium and the famed Astrodome with a sensational last lap.
Brabham, co-driving with Stefan Johansson in Saturday's Lone Star Grand Prix, trailed Scotsman Allan McNish and the more-powerful Audi throughout most of the twenty-minute qualifying session. But the Australia na- tive clocked a lap of one minute, 1.824 second lap. The Highcroft driver's time bested McNish's 1:01.830 lap time.
Last week, Dario Franchitti took the overall pole at the Long Beach Grand Prix with a final lap pole run in the No.26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a.
Brabham's pole performance established American Le Mans Series history as he became the first driver in ALMS history to win a pole in each of the series' four divisions. Including Friday's pole run in LMP2, Brabham also won the pole in LMP1 (Road Atlanta, 1999), GT1 (Miami, 2003) and GT2 (Sebring, 2005).
Bryan Herta, quickest in Friday afternoon practice, had a minor problem in qualifying and recorded the fourth position in LMP2 and fifth overall in the No.26 Acura ARX-01a at 1:02.331. Popular Adrian Fernandez, driv- ing on his 44th birthday, took fifth in the LMP2 category in the Lowe's Fernandez Racing Lola at 1:02.935.
Saturday's American Le Mans Series race will be telecast Sunday at 1 p.m. (EDT) on CBS-TV.
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): "I felt pretty confident coming into this race. Right out of the box we were in the Top 3 or 4. We just needed that last little bit extra to get the pole today. We made two quick changes on the car in qualifying and I went back out and got that last lap. This is big for Highcroft Racing and Acura. Back-to-back poles for Acura. This is a great statement for the team. They were a small team last year and they have grown into the larger team very quickly. So this pole is big for them. This place is tricky with all of the bumps and it is tough to figure out the setup. I like the track as opposed to some of the other drivers. I was here last year and the track is actually smoother this year. It was fun to nip Allan [McNish]. We are longtime rivals dating back to 1988. So that feels good. Allan is a great driver. We really had to fine tune the car here. But everything came together in qualifying. We had a good grip level with the car and everything just stuck on the final lap."
BRYAN HERTA(#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): "It is disappointing after the strong practice ses- sion right before qualifying. The XM Acura was good in the afternoon. We had a problem with the power steering when we went out and I came back in to check it. When I went back out, the car didn't feel the same as before. Maybe it cooled down and the track wasn't the same. I don't know. We'll have to get ready for the race and survive the track on Saturday. The track is bumpy and could be tough on the cars."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola 06/40) "First, I want to thank Luis [Diaz] for letting me qualify today. It is my birthday and it was his turn to qualify but he let me out. We seem to have a few problems on the bumpier tracks with the Lola. It is like Sebring. I don't know what it is exactly. The car wants to slide around too much. We really struggle here. We have to raise the car and we lose downforce. It is as good as the other Acura cars on this type of circuit. We need to work closely with Lola to improve this problem. I think this race is going to be a tough one. It is easy to make mis- takes on this track. It is very tight and bumpy and things can happen very quickly here."