Simon Pagenaud has taken his second straight pole position - and third of the season for de Ferran Motorsports and Acura - with a record qualifying run for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock.
Pagenaud set an LMP1 record with a lap of 46.971secs in de Ferran's XM-backed Acura. His time was just good enough to edge out Patrón Highcroft Racing's David Brabham by 0.374 seconds.
“Today was a good day for me,” said Pagenaud, who just lost out to Brabham in Lime Rock qualifying last year. “In the first few laps I was trying to get good heat in the tires. I was concerned with the red flag but once it went green, I went out there and it was a good lap.”
Pagenaud and team-mate and team owner de Ferran have won the last two rounds on two different types of tracks - the short and narrow streets of Long Beach and the wide-open spaces at Utah. So it's obvious that they feel comfortable no matter the layout.
That may be bad news for the rest of the field, even Brabham and the rest of Patrón Highcroft Racing. Brabham and Scott Sharp were overall winners here last year, the first overall win for the team and also for Acura.
Corsa Motorsports' Ginetta-Zytek 09HS hybrid prototype of Johnny Mowlem and Stefan Johannson will start third in P1 and sixth overall. Mowlem turned in a best lap of 49.464secs.
Usually drivers will say that starting out front isn't a particularly huge advantage. But given the tight and twisty nature of the Lime Rock layout, Pagenaud said being out front means a better chance of staying out of trouble.
“There will be major issues with the traffic in the race,” he said. “It's important to be on the inside of the first corner here. It is a lot quicker than you think. This track can be dirty on the outside line, so it is quite an advantage to be on the inside. You are almost better off being third and on the inside than second and on the outside. Because it is a very short track, there is a very short time to breathe. You see the car up front and you are already up behind him. It is very difficult to think about it and you have to go on instinct.”
Adrian Fernandez kept Lowe's Fernandez Racing five-for-five in LMP2 qualifying this season with his third class pole of the season. Next up is keeping the team perfect in races.