Friday At Road America
MONTAGNY, ANDRETTI GREEN TEAM SCORE 1st 2008 POLE
WITH NEW TRACK RECORD AT ROAD AMERICA FRIDAY
Third Straight LMP2 Pole For Acura, With Fernandez Second On The Grid Franck Montagny made his first visit to the picturesque Road America circuit a memorable one by driving the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Andretti Green Acura ARX-01b prototype sports car to the LMP2 class pole position Friday in qualifying for Saturday’s Generac 500.
Montagny, a French driver with experience in both Formula One and 24 Hours of Le Mans , broke the LMP2 track record by more than one and a half seconds with a clocking of one minute, 47.345 seconds and a speed of 135.757 miles per hour, easily bettering the previous mark of 1:48.833 [133.901 m.p.h.], set last year by Romain Dumas.
Montagny, who’ll team with young British driver James Rossiter in Saturday's American Le Mans Series feature, recorded Andretti Green Racing’s second American Le Mans Series pole with a solid performance Friday. Montagny quickly jumped to the top of the timing charts in the 20-minute session with a track-record at 1:48.028, followed by a 1:47.491 and then a 1:47.345.
Dario Franchitti won the first Andretti Green’s ALMS pole last year at Long Beach.
Road America veteran Adrian Fernandez looked to be a strong challenger for Montagny’s pole in the No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b, but had to settle for second in the LMP2 qualifying. Fernandez, a 12-time Road America starter in open-wheel and sports car competition, notched a best lap of 1:47.639 [135.386 m.p.h.].
David Brabham, a two-time race winner in 2008, took the No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b to fourth on the LMP2 grid with a time of 1:47.774 [135.216 m.p.h.]. Brabham and teammate Scott Sharp will seek their third class win Saturday when the green flag drops at 5 p.m. (EDT) on the famed four-mile road course.
Former Indy 500 champion Gil de Ferran, the Mid-Ohio pole winner, took his No. 66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01b to fifth in LMP2 qualifying at 1:48.160 [134.734 m.p.h.]. Young Simon Pagenaud will co-drive with de Ferran in Saturday’s feature event.
Saturday’s Generac 500 will be televised on SPEED-TV Sunday, August 10, at 2 p.m. EDT.
FRANCK MONTAGNY (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b):
"This track is very good. It’s a proper road-racing track for America. It is closer to what we race in Europe. I didn’t like the Lime Rock track and I thought Mid- Ohio was better. This circuit is even better than Mid-Ohio. Our XM Acura has been improving with each race for me, and I am getting used to the car and the team. I am really enjoying racing in the American Le Mans Series.
"This is the most fun I have had in racing. The atmosphere is so much different than in Europe. It is a friendly place to race. The XM team has been making very good changes with the car. James [Rossiter] is given us good feedback. I think he is a good driver and will help the team. I like our position on the front row and we’ll have a good chance to win on Saturday.”
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): “We have been competitive from the time we unloaded the Lowe’s Acura. Qualifying was good, but I wouldn’t say it was perfect. I had some traffic and, through it didn’t disturb me on my fast lap, I could not prepare for my out lap. The car had good balance and there was a lot of grip. This is a long race and I think we’ll be in contention throughout the four hours.”
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): “Our speed in the last practice gave us a lot of hope for qualifying. That’s because we tried a lot of different things in Thursday’s testing and those things just didn’t work. We went with a completely different setup today and it was the right direction. Now we have time to fine-tune the car for the race. That will help us.”
GIL DE FERRAN (#66 Panasonic ELS Surround Acura ARX-01b): “We have been chasing the balance of the car the last two days. We just missed a bit in qualifying. It is amazing how close this car is to my old Indy car I drove here in 2000 and 2001. It feels so much like that old CART car. This Acura does brake better. I think we’ll improve the car for the race.”
GENERAC 500, Roa America, LMP2 QUALIFYING
1. ANDRETTI GREEN ACURA AR -01b 1:47.345 (135.757 m.p.h.) 2. LOWE’S FERNANDEZ ACURA AR -01b 1:47.639 (135.386 m.p.h.) 3. Penske Porsche #7 1:47.736 (135.264 m.p.h.) 4. PATRÓN HIGHCROFT ACURA AR -01b 1:47.774 (135.216 m.p.h.) 5. DE FERRAN PANASONIC ACURA AR -01b 1:48.160 (134.734 m.p.h.)