De Ferran Acura takes another pole

De Ferran Motorsports driver Simon Pagenaud dominated qualifying for the second round of the American Le Mans Series at St Petersburg, leading an Acura one-two-three

De Ferran Acura takes another pole

Pagenaud took provisional pole from Highcroft's Scott Sharp - who was carrying out the qualifying duties normally performed by team-mate David Brabham - early in the prototype session and then extended his advantage to nearly a second.

The result gave De Ferran a second straight pole after Scott Dixon had topped the Sebring grid for the team.

"Today the car is absolutely fantastic," said Pagenaud. "After practice I said 'don't change anything, it's going to be okay'. We put new tyres on and the car was amazingly fast in the first few laps."

Only 17 cars took part in qualifying, a record low for the ALMS. The championship has been hit hard by the economic crisis during the winter, with teams pulling out across all four classes. The two prototype classes have only three entries apiece at St Petersburg, and there are no GT1 cars at all.

Luis Diaz took third overall and LMP2 pole for Fernandez Acura, ahead of the two Dyson Lola-Mazdas. Guy Smith eventually took fourth from team-mate Marino Franchitti and narrowed the gap to Diaz to 0.286 seconds by the end of the session.

Chapman Ducote was a distant sixth in the Intersport Lola, the only other prototype in the field.

Jaime Melo put the Risi Ferrari on GT2 pole, beating Wolf Henzler's Farnbacher Loles Porsche by 0.3s.

"This is a really tough track and it's really important to start from pole," said Melo. "I didn't get a very good lap but it was enough to get pole. It's a track where you have to take so many risks, especially in qualifying."

The new Rahal Letterman BMWs showed much better form at St Petersburg than they had at Sebring, with Joey Hand and Dirk Muller taking third and fourth places in class, ahead of Patrick Long's Flying Lizard Porsche.

Pos Cl Drivers Car Time 1. P1 De Ferran/Pagenaud Acura ARX 02a 1:03.776 2. P1 Brabham/Sharp Acura ARX 02a 1:04.722 3. P2 Fernandez/Diaz Acura ARX-01B 1:05.178 4. P2 Dyson/Smith Lola B09 86 Mazda 1:05.464 5. P2 Leitzinger/Franchitti Lola B09 86 Mazda 1:05.666 6. P1 Field/Field/Ducote Lola B06/10 1:09.044 7. GT2 Melo/Kaffer Ferrari 430 1:12.892 8. GT2 Henzler/Werner Porsche 911 RSR 1:13.173 9. GT2 Hand/Auberlen BMW E92 M3 1:13.267 10. GT2 Mueller/Milner BMW E92 M3 1:13.458 11. GT2 Bergmeister/Long Porsche 911 RSR 1:13.465 12. GT2 Farnbacher/James Panoz Esperante 1:14.109 13. GT2 Murry/Robertson Doran Ford GT-R 1:14.281 14. GT2 Gigliotti/Curran Chevrolet Riley Corvette 1:14.633 15. GT2 Feinberg/Hall Dodge Viper 1:15.938 16. GT2 Sutherland/Phinney Panoz Esperante 1:15.996 17. GT2 Law/Neiman Porsche 911 RSR 1:18.592 
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