PAGENAUD CONTINUES ACURA POLE STREAK IN DE FERRAN CAR
BY EDGING BRABHAM IN LIME ROCK ALMS QUALIFYING
Acura Scores Fourth Consecutive Pole; Takes 1-2-3 ALMS Qualifying Sweep
LAKEVILLE, Conn. - Young French driving star Simon Pagenaud is enjoying his American Le Mans Series tour of the United States this year.
The 25-year-old de Ferran Motorsports Acura driver drove the No. 66 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-02a prototype sports car to his third overall 2009 pole position Friday on the 1.53-mile Lime Rock Park circuit in preparation for Saturday\'s Northeast Grand Prix. Pagenaud captured the poles at St. Petersburg and Utah earlier this year.
Pagenaud recorded a new LMP1 class qualifying record for the Lime Rock course with a time of 46.971 seconds and an average speed of 114.965 miles per hour. His speed bettered the old mark of 113.917 m.p.h. held by Emmanuelle Pirro in the factory Audi. Pagenaud will team with former Indy 500 winner and team owner Gil de Ferran Saturday in the two-hour, 45-minute contest set for 2 p.m. [EDT].
Pagenaud and de Ferran will seek their third straight American Le Mans Series overall win Saturday after the pair scored victories on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., and at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
Pagenaud\'s pole-winning speed led another Acura 1-2-3 overall qualifying performance, the fourth consecutive for the auto manufacturer in the ALMS road-racing campaign.
Recent 24 Hours of Le Mans winner David Brabham made a strong attempt at Pagenaud\'s time in the No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-02a prototype late in the 20-minute qualifying session, but the current LMP1 class point leader finished second Friday with a 47.345 and 114.056 m.p.h. clocking. Brabham, winner at St. Petersburg this year, will co-drive with local favorite Scott Sharp in Saturday\'s feature, televised live on the SPEED Channel.
Mexican star Adrian Fernandez captured his third 2009 LMP2 class pole position by rounding out Acura\'s 1-2-3 qualifying sweep in the No. 15 Lowe\'s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b sports car. Fernandez and driving partner Luis Diaz have won five LMP2 poles this year and will go for their fifth LMP2 race win Saturday.
SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): \"The XM Radio de Ferran Acura has been good right out of the box this weekend. We have won two straight races and a third win in a row would give us a strong start to the second half of the season. It is very important to start on the inside entering T urn One. So, winning the pole today was a key for our weekend. If you start on the outside, you can get into the dirty part of the pavement and the traction is poor. So we wanted the pole for that advantage at the start. With the rain coming, I wanted to get a quick lap in early. With our new XM weather radar system, we knew the rain was very near, right down to the minute. So once I got heat in the tires, I ran extremely hard to win the pole.\"
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): \"We have been struggling a bit to get the front of the car to work around here. The car felt good early in the qualifying run and I thought we had a shot at pole position. But, in the end, I really went for it on the last lap and it didn\'t stick to the pavement. I think there are some adjustments that can be made to make it better. Of course, the traffic will be the key to Saturday\'s race. The track is very tight and you have to get your timing right in the corners with the slower cars. But we won here last year and I believe we\'ll have a good chance again. It would be great to win again in the Patrón Highcroft team\'s backyard.\"
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe\'s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): \"I was getting worried about the rain coming. But, once we got open track, we jumped to the overall top position. Our Michelin tires come in very well and we are fast on cold tires. Last year, we had some problems that cost us the races. But this year, our Lowe\'s team has been great in qualifying and the races. Our pit stops have been outstanding this year.\"