Marino Franchitti kicked off Patron Highcroft Racing's ALMS title defence in the best possible fashion by securing LMP2 pole for the Sebring Twelve Hours.

Although Franchitti will only drive the major endurance races with David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud this year, the Scotsman was given the honour of qualifying the HPD ARX-01c and saw off the challenge of Klaus Graf in the Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder to secure fifth overall on the grid.

It marked the seventh pole for Highcroft and the first not secured by Australian ace Brabham.

"I am delighted for the Patron Highcroft team," Franchitti said. "This is one trophy that I know Duncan wants to have in the trophy cabinet in Connecticut.

"I was really touched, amazed and happy to be asked to qualify the car. I didn't think I would get the opportunity this year but both my team-mates gave me the backing to do that. When they asked me to do it, I was happy to accept. We still have a little bit of work to do on the car but we have done a really thorough job in testing and our recipe book is full of stuff that we can do to make it sweet for the race."

Brabham said he was delighted to see the Highcroft newcomer snare top spot on the grid.

"Marino did a fantastic job," he said. "We knew it would be close and the practice times were not really showing the true situation. Once qualifying was underway everyone is always really hanging it out. The LMP2 class looks very close which is great for the fans.

"Patron Highcroft Racing did a fantastic job in getting the set-up right. The conditions were changing all the time and it is a great moment for the team to start the year off on a high."


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