Pagenaud And Acura Take ALMS Pole At St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, FL – Simon Pagenaud pushed his highly sophisticated XM Radio/Panasonic Acura ARX-02a to the pole position in American LeMans Series qualifying at the St. Petersburg Street Course Friday afternoon. In winning his first ALMS P1 pole, the French driver toured the 1.8-mile, 14-turn track at a speed of 101.606 miles per hour.

The rapid Acura is owned by de Ferran Motorsports and owner Gil de Ferran will co-drive with Pagenaud in Saturday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.

“The car behaved very well, and it feels good to win the pole,” Pagenaud said after his run. “I was expecting some trouble, but the car was really well balanced and had good braking, which made my life easier.”

For his inaugural race at St. Petersburg, Pagenaud prepared himself by down-loading video games from the Internet. “The video games taught me where the turns were, but I didn’t know about the bumps until this morning. The video games were quite accurate.”

Scott Sharp pushed the Patron Spirits Company Acura ARX-02a to the second fastest speed with a run of 100.121 mph. Sharp and Pagenaud were the only two drivers to eclipse 100 mph qualifying laps.

In P2 qualifying, Luis Diaz earned his first ALMS pole position in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01B. His speed was 99.420 mph, which was the third fastest overall. “It is a good feeling to be on the pole,” he noted. “The whole team did a good job and our Michelin tires worked well. We have to keep working hard as the Dyson (Racing) cars are getting closer to us, and we need to keep working on our car for consistency. But I am very happy with the car and am happy with the pole.”

Adrian Fernandez will co-drive with Diaz.

Guy Smith qualified second fastest in his P2 class Dyson Racing Team Lola B08 86 Mazda. His speed was 98.986 mph. Chris Dyson co-drives with Smith.

Marino Franchitti and Butch Leitzinger had the third fastest P2 car, another Dyson Racing Mazda, and they were fifth overall.

Jon and Clint Field and Chapman Ducote qualified sixth overall in their P1 Intersport Racing Lola B06/10.

The fastest GT2 car was Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT driven by Jaime Melo. In earning his 13th career ALMS pole position, he attained a speed of 88.899 mph. His co-driver is Pierre Kaffer.

In total, 17 cars qualified with three being P1s, three P2s and 11 GT2 entries.

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