PAGENAUD SETS NEW TRACK QUALIFYING RECORD SATURDAY
IN AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK
Acura Takes 1-2-3 Overall Sweep With Brabham, Diaz Just Behind Pagenaud
TOOELE, Utah - To say that French driving star Simon Pagenaud is hot would be an understatement.
The 25-year-old de Ferran Motorsports Acura racer set a new track qualifying record Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park in the fourth stop on the 2009 American Le Mans Series. Pagenaud teamed with former Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran to win the overall title last month at Long Beach and, last week in Spa, Belgium, he won the pole and the Le Mans Series race in a Peugeot.
He'll go for three wins a row Sunday when he co-drives with de Ferran in the Larry H. Miller Utah Grand Prix. Pagenaud's pole run was his second in the ALMS this year after he won top grid spot at St. Petersburg last month.
Pagenaud's new track mark of one minute, 30.645 seconds and a speed of 121.052 miles per hour, easily bettered last year's record of 1:31.050 set by Timo Bernhard in the Penske Porsche. In fact, Pagenaud recorded three consecutive laps in the 1:30.6 range to secure the new record in the No 66 XM Radio Acura ARX-02a car.
Long Beach pole winner David Brabham, teaming with co-driver Scott Sharp Sunday, made a valiant attempt to top Pagenaud's time in the No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-02a prototype late in the 20-minute qualifying session, but the popular Aussie driver had to settle for second with a 1:31.381 and a speed of 120.077. Both Acura LMP1 times bettered the old LMP1 track mark of 1:31.590 by the Audi last year on the beautiful 3.048-mile, 15-turn permanent road circuit . Acura collected the top three qualifying spots for the second straight ALMS race.
Brabham made a two-lap dash with less than three minutes remaining in qualifying, but an understeer problem hurt David's attempt to win back-to-back overall ALMS poles for the Patrón Highcroft team.
Luis Diaz rounded out the Acura's 1-2-3 qualifying sweep with the No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b sports car by finishing third overall, and claiming the team's fourth straight LMP2 pole position this year. Diaz, who won the St. Petersburg LMP2 pole and will team with Adrian Fernandez Sunday, clocked a time of 1:32.747 and an average speed of 118.306 m.p.h. to beat the two Dyson Racing Mazdas in a tough three-car battle.
The ALMS event will be shown on SPEED-TV on tape-delay on Sunday, May 17, at 10 p.m. [EDT].
SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "This has been a crazy month for me. After winning at Long Beach, then going to Spa for Peugeot and winning the pole and race last weekend in the Le Mans Series, and now returning here to win the pole. We debuted the de Ferran Motorsports team here last year and finished third overall. So, we would like to win overall this time in our first anniversary. The Acura felt so good today. I didn't like the car in earlier practice, but the team did a great job changing the setup. This car is one of the best chassis in the world today. I think we showed that performance today."
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "The first two practice sessions went really well today and we made a change prior to qualifying to try to improve the front grip. However, when we went out for qualifying, I seemed to have less grip. We didn't get it done in qualifying but every other session the Patrón Highcroft car has been very quick. I'm pretty happy with the fact we have a good car for the race. It is a long one around here and anything can happen. We'll try some changes in the warm-up in the morning and we'll see what that gives us."
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "This is another great performance by the Lowe's team. The Mazdas from Dyson Racing are getting faster with each race, so we have to be improving, too. We are not as fast as last year with the new ACO rules for LMP2. We thought we would be two seconds slower than last year's time, but we were a second a half off. So we are pleased with this pole run. Now, we must prepare for a tough race with the Dyson team."