Drayson Dominates Qualifying At Road America
By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
Jonny Cocker won his second straight pole in the American Le Mans Series at Road America. Driving the Lola-Judd of Drayson Racing, the young British driver backed up his first career pole in the series with another flyer on the 4.0-mile, high-speed Wisconsin circuit.
Cocker’s lap of 1:49.554 beat the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda driven by Guy Smith by a substantial margin of 1.321 seconds.
“The car was just fantastic,” said Cocker, “leaving us to focus on the race now.”
At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Cocker put the Drayson car on the pole, but co-driver Lord Paul Drayson was unable to get the car back to the first round of pit stops on the lead lap after grounding himself in a gravel trap.
Klaus Graf, the championship contender of Team CytoSport, took third on the grid in a newly re-built Porsche Spyder RS following the team’s heavy crash at Mid-Ohio during practice, which forced it to withdraw. Porsche factory drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas will co-drive with Graf in place of injured team owner Greg Pickett. This will be the first of three rounds where the Le Mans 24-hour winners for Audi will join the American team in pursuit of Highcroft Racing’s David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud.
The Highcroft squad will start fifth on the grid after qualifying a distant 2.594 seconds from the pole in the HPD-ARX01c and nearly a second behind the Porsche of Team CytoSport. Brabham and Pagenaud lead Graf by 23 points in the LMP class with the three enduros remaining that award extra points.
In GT, the Corvette Racing team won the pole with the No. 4 Corvette ZR-1 in the hands of Oliver Gavin. Despite the 4.0-mile circuit, the usually tight GT times were close as usual. Gavin (2:06.509) and teammate Jan Magnussen (2:06.674) were just 0.323 seconds ahead of the Ferrari 430 GTS of Pierre Kaffer and the Risi Competizione team.
“We’ve been trying to get everything together,” said Gavin of the hit-and-miss season thus far for Corvette Racing in its first full season of the newly named GT competition. “One thing or another has been happening all year.”
The Corvette team was leading at the Le Mans 24-hour when it was pushed into the barriers by a Peugeot prototype, just one example of this year’s ups and downs. But Gavin believes the team has its act together for the Wisconsin circuit.
“This circuit is more like Le Mans than any other in America,” said Gavin. “We run very well at Le Mans so maybe that’s translating to here.”
The leading championship contenders at Flying Lizard Motorsports and Risi qualified fifth and seventh, respectively, on the GT grid. The No. 90 BMW M3 of Rahal Letterman Racing took fourth ahead of Jorg Bergmeister’s Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR. The Ferrari of Extreme Motorsports headed off the No. 62 Risi Ferrari of Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni for sixth place.
Bergmeister and Patrick Long lead the Risi duo of Melo and Bruni by eight points in the championship.
– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment