Mid-Ohio: Pagenaud tops morning ALMS practice
Simon Pagenaud turned the quickest lap Friday in the first official practice session for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Acura and de Ferran Motorsports. The sterling Frenchman’s best time was a 1:11.570 in the XM Acura ARX-02a that he will share with team owner Gil de Ferran.
The pairing has won three straight American Le Mans Series races dating back to April in Long Beach. They also are within 13 points of LMP1 championship leaders David Brabham and Scott Sharp of Patr¢n Highcroft Racing.
Brabham, part of the overall winning team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year with Peugeot, was second overall with a lap of 1:11.570 in their Acura P1. The two were winners in the season’s first Acura-sponsored race – the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.
Dyson Racing, fresh off its first LMP2 victory of the season at Lime Rock Park three weeks ago, was quickest in class. Butch Leitzinger, who drove to the win with Marino Franchitti, threw down a quick lap of 1:12.604 in the Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupe.
Leitzinger was 0.303 seconds quicker than the third-place P1 car of Intersport Racing’s Jon Field, who is driving an AER-powered Lola B06/10 with son Clint. Next up was Team Cytosport’s Klaus Graf in the team’s new Porsche RS Spyder. His lap of 1:13.052 was good enough for second in LMP2 and a 0.154-second gap back to the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b of Luis Diaz, the class championship leader with Adrian Fernandez.
Joey Hand kept BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team on top in GT2 with a time of 1:22.044 in the BMW M3 that he will drive with Bill Auberlen. The two placed third at Lime Rock for their first podium of the season.
Hand was a slim 0.020 seconds ahead of the championship-leading Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Jörg Bergmeister. The German has won the last four rounds with fellow Porsche factory pilot Patrick Long. Next up was Risi Competizione’s Ferrari F430 GT of Jaime Melo, driving with fellow Le Mans winner Pierre Kaffer.
Guy Cosmo was the quickest driver in the Challenge class. His best time of 1:27.460 in the ORBIT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry that he will drive with John Baker was 0.546 seconds better than Shane Lewis in the Velox Motorsport Porsche. Lewis, making his return to the Series, will drive with Gerry Vento.