Brabham beats Pagenaud for Mosport pole
David Brabham captured pole position for Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport on Saturday in his Patr¢n Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a. The reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans champion turned in a best lap of 1:05.323 (135.517 mph) and edged out de Ferran Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud by a scant 0.074 seconds.
Brabham and teammate Scott Sharp, winners two weeks ago at Road America, are looking for their second straight class victory at Mosport. They benefitted a year ago when Gil de Ferran’s Acura ran out of fuel on the last lap while leading in LMP2.
The two teams are back at it again this year. With 75 points remaining over the final three events of the season, Brabham and Sharp lead Pagenaud and de Ferran by 13 points. Class winners Sunday receive 20 points. zzzz
“You can see how close it is with the points available,” Brabham said. “Every time we are out there, our two cars are neck and neck. 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 Patr¢n Highcroft Racing guys gave me a good car to grab pole. We were a little behind in the practice but made a slight change that made the difference.”
Intersport Racing’s Jon Field qualified fourth overall and third in P1. His best lap was a 1:06.764 (132.592 mph) in the Lola B06/10-AER that he will drive with son Clint.
Pagenaud and de Ferran had taken every pole in the last four rounds including two weeks ago at Road America. But Brabham and Sharp came away winners in Elkhart Lake with Brabham holding off a fierce challenge from de Ferran in the closing stint.
“We do have a bit of an advantage in the points which is good because anything can happen over the next three events,” Brabham admitted. “It’s about confidence and self-belief. Both are very good teams with very good drivers. Our program with Acura is transparent. They know what we’re doing and they know what they’re doing. We know they went slightly different on setup than we did and you could see that there was little difference. It’s great to have that relationship with de Ferran off the track but makes it that much tougher on the track.”
After entering the season with one career pole position, Dyson Racing’s Marino Franchitti claimed his second in as many races with a run to pole in LMP2. The enthusiastic Scot put in a lap of 1:06.379 (133.361 mph) to qualify third overall in one of the team’s Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupe. He will drive with season-long teammate Butch Leitzinger, a two-time winner at Mosport with Dyson Racing.
Franchitti bested Chris Dyson in the sister Lola-Mazda by 0.474 seconds. Dyson will drive with Guy Smith.
“This track is my No. 1 in the world. Spa and the Nordschleife are close to it,” said Franchitti, who won in class with Leitzinger at Lime Rock Park. “I really enjoy qualifying here. It is very intense but very satisfying if you get it right.”
Franchitti and Leitzinger are racing for their championship lives this weekend. Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz can wrap up the class drivers title with their seventh victory in eight races this season. Diaz qualified the Acura ARX-01b third in class at 1:06.944 (132.236 mph).
The Franchitti-Leitzinger car did not run in Saturday’s damp morning session. The team correctly guessed that the weather would improve dramatically.
“We put one car out just to see how it was,” Franchitti said. “We knew it was going to be dry this afternoon. The track has changed a lot during the day and the grip was massively different from the test session Friday. 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.”
Dirk Müller gave BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team its second consecutive GT2 pole position and led a 1-2 pole finish for the white BMW M3s. Müller’s best lap was a 1:17.528 in the entry that he will share with Tommy Milner and bested Joey Hand in the sister M3 by 0.129 seconds.
Müller’s pole Saturday was his first at Mosport since 2001…also in a BMW M3 for the BMW Motorsport factory team. His last pole in the Series came at Road America last year in a Ferrari for Tafel Racing.
“As everyone can see, this is still the Ultimate Driving Machine,” Müller said of his 2009-spec M3 compared to the 2001 version. “It’s a different kind of car. It still has the weight distribution and feels like a BMW. I have been driving BMWs for a long time. But that is very good. We have taken things over the years and improved on that overall package.”
BMW and Rahal Letterman qualified 1-2 in the last round at Road America two weeks ago. That’s also the way they finished the race with Hand and Bill Auberlen winning by a lap.
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing has put at least one of its M3s on the GT2 podium at five of the last six events following a not-so memorable debut at Sebring. It’s a good thing as GT2 remains the Series’ toughest class. The top six cars were within 0.833 seconds.
“Once you break through, it gives some momentum and we have brought it here,” Müller said. “There is nothing new on the car since the beginning of the year. We understand the car and the tires. Having said that, GT2 is so intense and so close. You need to be within the car and not make mistakes. Everything has to work together.
Farnbacher Loles Racing’s Wolf Henzler qualified third in class at 1:17.788. He will drive with Dirk Werner. The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR will start from the rear of the grid as Werner won’t arrive at the track until Sunday due to a prior commitment.
The Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 30. The race will air live on SPEED. American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Living Timing & Scoring will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com. Live coverage also can be heard on Sirius 126 in the US and XM 242. You can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes).
The race will also mark the eighth round of the 2009 MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com and mosport.com.
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