David Brabham continued Patron Highcroft Racing's seemingly inexorable march towards the head of the American Le Mans Series LMP2 field as he captured the overall pole position for Saturday's Detroit Sports Car Challenge just hours after Acura announced that the team would be one of its two LMP1 entries for 2009.
Brabham posted a quickest lap of 1min 13.483secs in the vividly-hued ARX-01b to put himself and co-driver Scott Sharp first overall for the first time since Lime Rock Park, where the duo duly captured the first overall victory for Acura.
"This tops off today, with the P1 announcement," Brabham commented, "For me personally, it's the first time in a long time that I've had a package like this, with the sort of people we are working with. That inspires you to dig deeper and go around quicker. Scott is doing a fantastic job every time he gets in the car, and the whole chemistry is working well together."
Brabham went 0.177secs faster than Simon Pagenaud in the de Ferran Motorsports Acura, while Guy Smith proved to have the quickest Porsche entry with Dyson Racing's #16 entry, taking third at 1min 14.209secs as teams struggled to find the proper set-up after rain pelted the circuit in the morning and afternoon practice sessions before drying out on the racing line in qualifying.
The Sharp-Brabham pairing has won three of the last four rounds in LMP2, including the last two races at Road America and a week ago at Mosport. The duo also finished second in P2 at St Petersburg and won in class at Long Beach, both street circuits, to help close the gap to LMP leaders Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas to just ten points with three rounds - and 75 points - to go.
"We were fast at Long Beach and fast at St Petersburg," a buoyant Brabham said, "There has been a lot of progress since then, and I was confident coming here that we had a fast car. We've got a strong package, and our goal is to win the next three races and snatch the championship from Penske."
Lucas Luhr earned another class pole position for Audi Sport North America, with a lap of 1min 15.879secs putting him at the head of the LMP1 category. However, he only qualified the Audi that he will share with Marco Werner eighth overall, and 2.396secs behind Brabham. The second Audi of Emanuele Pirro and Marcel Fässler was another 0.44secs back.
"It's really tough here for us, and we really didn't have the best opportunity in qualifying," Luhr sighed, "I didn't take 100 per cent of what the car has in it. The layout is not so bad here, but what hurts us are the bumps because of our weight. We could have been a little closer, but it's an impressive gap to the Acura."
Werner and Luhr have been on a tear in P1 recently, with seven consecutive class victories starting at St Petersburg. They won overall there and at Long Beach, where they started sixth overall. Luhr himself has won eight times in nine starts in ALMS street events and, with a 66-point championship lead, knows that there isn't really a need to push for more points.