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Acura dominates St Pete qualifying.

Four rear tyres plus a brand new car equalled pole position for Simon Pagenaud and de Ferran Motorsports ahead of this weekend's Acura Sports Car Challenge of St Petersburg.

In the absence of Sebring dominators Audi and Peugeot, the young French star was the fastest qualifier for round two of the American Le Mans Series, posting a lap of 1min 03.776secs in the de Ferran Acura ARX-02a and earning his first ALMS pole to follow on from temporary team-mate Scott Dixon's in round one.

With team-mate and owner Gil de Ferran looking on, Pagenaud went 0.946secs quicker than Patron Highcroft Racing's similarly-mounted Scott Sharp, while a good day for Acura was made even better as Lowe's Fernandez Racing's Luis Diaz claimed third on the grid, and top spot in the LMP2 class.

"The car has been behaving very well since this morning," Pagenaud revealed, "I was expecting trouble, and having so much contact patch at the front made me think it would be moving around, but it was very good."

One of the reasons for Pagenaud's concern is the unique ARX-02a design that features the same size tyres on all four corners of the car. That, combined with a radical aerodynamic package, increases the amount of downforce the Acura LMP1 machine generates, an optimal feature on the tight and twisty bits that are common with street circuits.

"It's a very sophisticated and complicated car, and we gain seven per cent more contact patch on the front, so it helps us turn the front better," Pagenaud confirmed, "It is helping us get a P1 car as fast - or faster - in the corners as P2 cars.

"It was important for us to have a good car at Sebring for testing, and you expect that, if it is good at Sebring, then it will be good on street circuits. We have a little softer set-up here, but the car is good on long runs and I expect it to be very good for the race."

Intersport Racing's Lola B06/10-AER of Jon Field, Clint Field and Chapman Ducote took third spot in the P1 class at 1min 09.044secs, but will line up only sixth on the grid as Diaz's Acura was followed by the two P2 entries from Dyson Racing.

Diaz followed team-mate Adrian Fernandez's class pole at Sebring - as well as their first P2 victory - with his first career ALMS pole. The Mexican's lap of 1min 05.178secs bested Dyson Racing's Guy Smith by just 0.286secs as the 2008 Lowe's Fernandez car came out on top over the two new Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupes.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
American Lemans Series.  16-18 May 2008. Utah Grand Prix. Miller Motorsports Park. Tooele, Utah. Gil deFerran and Simon Pagenaud.
The Highcroft Racing team celebrates second place at the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring just seven days after taking delivery of its new HPD ARX-01e   [pic credit: Highcroft Racing]
The Highcroft Racing team celebrates second place at the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring just seven days after taking delivery of its new HPD ARX-01e   [pic credit: Highcroft Racing]
The Highcroft Racing team celebrates Michelin Green-X Challenge victory at Sebring   [pic credit: Highcroft Racing]
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#08  Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDI FAP overtaking #62 Ferrari.
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT-E followed by #3 Corvette.
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
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29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F430 GT-E pit stop.
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
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29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
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29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
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29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F430 GT-E pit stop.
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
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29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
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29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#02 & #01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F430 GT-E
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#62 & #61 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT-E head  GT2 field into turn one.
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#62 & #61 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT-E followed by #01 and #02 Ferrari into turn one.
29 September-2 October, 2010, Braselton, Georgia USA.
#61 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT-E`s Jamie Melo.

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