David Brabham will start his mission to take the 2009 American Le Mans Series title from the front row at Laguna Seca, after a thrilling qualifying battle saw the Patr?n Highcroft star stop the clocks less than one hundredth of a second short of pole position.

The 44-year old Acura driver was the first to show his hand in the 20-minute session by breaking the 1min 11secs benchmark to take the green-and-black Patr?n-backed ARX-02a to the top of the timesheets. Acuras continued to dominate the session, with just over two tenths covering Gil de Ferran and Luis Diaz in the LMP2 Acura before Brabham pitted while holding the third fastest time at 1min 11.462secs.

The 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours winner rejoined the battle for pole with four minutes remaining, setting his best time of 1min 11.298secs to take second place behind long-time friend - and closest championship rival - Gil de Ferran by just 0.092secs.

"It was yet another close qualifying session and battle between us and the de Ferran car, but it was nice for Gil to take his last pole position," Brabham said, referring to the impending retirement of polewinner de Ferran.

"I'm pretty pleased with second as I only got three laps in practice this morning because half of the Patr?n Highcroft crew are suffering with 'flu, and we decided to give the guys a rest. We went out in the second session and had a bit of a steering issue, so we made a small tyre pressure adjustment to get some more grip and it was a case of suck it and see for qualifying.

"We'll make a few more adjustments to the set-up but, overall, we are in good shape and certainly competitive. A front row start is exactly what we wanted and I'm looking forward to the race. We know what we need to do and we're just going to go out there and do it."

With a 21-point lead over de Ferran in the LMP1 championship battle, Brabham and the Patr?n Highcroft crew are well-placed to take the title, which can be achieved by completing 70 per cent of the four-hour race distance at Laguna Seca.


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