The Patron Highcroft Racing team will start the second round of the American Le Mans Series from the front row of the grid after qualifying second for the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St Petersburg.

Scott Sharp was given the job of qualifying the #9 Acura ARX-02a for its first outing on a street circuit, and was held provisional pole with a best time of 1min 04.722secs.

However, the other LMP1 Acura of de Ferran Motorsports eventually went quicker to steal pole position, but Sharp said he was pleased with the performance, even if he admitted the team needs to find more from the car.

"I think we are in really good shape for tomorrow because the car is very consistent," he said. "All the times I ran in qualifying were very strong and close to our fastest lap, but I couldn't stretch it any further.

"We made a few changes prior to qualifying and I think we learned a great deal. We need to gain a bit of speed compared to the #66 car but overall I think we had a good session. Tomorrow should be a really good race. We have been working all day with the race set-up in mind to make sure the car remains consistent and we can keep the Michelin tyres underneath us throughout the race. Especially if it is hot, the track can be very greasy and I think we can shine if that happens."

Team-mate Brabham added that the race itself will continue to be a learning curve for the team as it gets used to the new LMP1 machine, and he admitted that it would be a challenging race day with traffic in the tight confines of the street venue.

"This is the first time we have come to a street circuit with this car and we are making strong progress," he said. "We're not really sure what the best direction is because we don't have any street race experience to draw on with the Acura ARX-02a.

"It is great to be learning a lot and that is what it is going to be like throughout the season. We're on the front row and we're ready for a good race with the de Ferran guys and the P2 teams are not behind us either. Any street circuit with traffic can be a big challenge and that will be the case tomorrow."


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