Watkins Glen II: Acura qualifying report
DE FERRAN CONTINUES HIS RETIREMENT TOUR WITH ANOTHER POLE SATURDAY IN ROAD AMERICA ALMS QUALIFYING Brazilian Star Scores Team's 6th Pole Position in 7 2009 Events ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Gil de Ferran's retirement tour is becoming more ...
DE FERRAN CONTINUES HIS RETIREMENT TOUR WITH ANOTHER POLE SATURDAY IN ROAD AMERICA ALMS QUALIFYING
Brazilian Star Scores Team's 6th Pole Position in 7 2009 Events
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Gil de Ferran's retirement tour is becoming more impressive with every race.
The 41-year-old veteran driver, coming off a dominating pole position and race win at Mid-Ohio last weekend, recorded his second straight American Le Mans Series overall pole Saturday on the legendary 4-mile Road America road circuit for Sunday's Time Warner Road Race Showcase feature, set for Sunday at 2 p.m. [CDT].
The 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion blistered the tarmac in his No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a prototype sports car with a clocking of one minute, 48.216 seconds and an average speed of 134.664 miles per hour. De Ferran admitted he was driving to a sub-1:48 lap, but made a late-lap mistake that cost him a chance at a track record. The pole was de Ferran's first at Road America in his final driving appearance at the famed track.
The pole position was the sixth overall in seven ALMS races this year for the de Ferran Motorsports team. Simon Pagenaud has three, de Ferran, two, and current IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, one.
The de Ferran contingent will attempt to set another ALMS record Sunday with a fifth consecutive overall race win in the event airing Sunday on SPEED TV at 3 p.m. [EDT]. De Ferran and Pagenaud have captured four straight victories with wins at Long Beach, Utah, Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio.
Taking second on Sunday's grid were current LMP1 class point leaders David Brabham and Scott Sharp in the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-02a with Brabham's speed of 133.648 m.p.h.
Brabham jumped to an early top spot in qualifying before de Ferran notched the No. 1 position on his third lap, some eight minutes into the 20-minute qualifying session. Brabham made a valiant effort to retake the pole, but fell short late in qualifying. Brabham won the pole at Long Beach this year.
For the first time in seven races, the Lowe's Acura of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz did not win the LMP2 class pole position. Marino Franchitti drove his Mazda to the point, nipping Fernandez by two-tenths of a second with a speed of 131.275 m.p.h., to Adrian's 131.024.
ACURA QUOTES: GIL DE FERRAN (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "The Acura was good right off the trailer on Friday. Our engineering crew needs to take the credit for this pole position today. Simon [Pagenaud] and I have improved the car's setup a little, but the team was really close in coming to Road America with a proper setup. Our team feels very confident after four wins in a row. But we know the Highcroft team and the other LMP1 teams are very strong and capable of winning here. I just love this circuit. It is one of my favorites in the world. I don't think they build road circuits like this one anymore. I had never won the pole here. I was close in CART, but this is a thrill today."
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "It has been a pretty tough weekend so far for the Patron Highcroft team. On Friday, we had a hydraulic problem with the steering, and Scott [Sharp] had a very big moment in the kink portion of the track. We didn't get all of the track time we wanted. In qualifying, the car felt better but Gil had a strong run. Now, we have to get the car ready to race. We won last year here, so that is our goal again on Sunday."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "I drove as hard as possible. But we just didn't have the straightaway speed of the Mazdas. We have been trying to keep up with their speed, but it is tough. Luis and I will be in for a battle in the race. But this track is set up for the Mazdas' speed."
-credit: acura motorsports
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