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Rebellion Wins Petit Pole

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 18 2013

Rebellion's Toyota Lola is on the pole at the Petit. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Rebellion Racing is off to a fast start in its return to the American Le Mans Series. The team has been fast all weekend in practice and on Friday, it took the pole for Saturday’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Neel Jani was behind the wheel of the Toyota powered Lola in qualifying.

Jani turned a lap at 132.036 mph in the LMP1 car, which exited the series for a hiatus last May. Jani is sharing with Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost.

“It’s nice to be back racing in America, because we have a fight again with the Muscle Milk team,” said Jani, who captured 2013 poles at Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca before Rebellion Racing took a sabbatical from the ALMS to concentrate on FIA World Endurance Championship competition. “In qualifying, we have been quicker but we have seen the race is just a different game. With the GTCs and the safety cars, the visibility in our car is difficult, but that just means the race is that much closer. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to turn our quick speed into a win.”

Lucas Luhr qualified second in the No. 6 Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c-Honda with a lap of 129.892 mph. Luhr and season-long teammate Klaus Graf clinched the P1 class championship in Baltimore last month. They are teaming with French driver Romain Dumas.

David Brabham qualified third overall and first in the P2 class with a lap of 125.833 mph in the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b-Honda prototype. He’s sharing driving duties with Scott Sharp and Anthony Lazzaro.

“We cut it very close, and winning the pole gave the team a big lift,” Brabham said. “Level 5 is very strong, we respect that. In race trim, it’s going to be a heck of a race. There is a lot at stake with the championship and I’m just happy to be involved. For me, being at the last ALMS race is very emotional. This championship has been a big part of my life and I’ve had some of my best racing here in the U.S. What I’ll miss most are the people, not just the racing.”

Dane Cameron took the Prototype Challenge class pole in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 he will co-drive with Mike Guasch and David Cheng. Cameron’s speed was 121.993 mph.

“It was very tough qualifying, a lot of back and forth with Bruno,” Cameron said. “We are off to a good start, and we’re really looking forward to getting it done tomorrow to get a team championship and a driver championship for Mike.”

Italian driver Matteo Malucelli picked up his second GT class pole position of the season with a lap of 115.951 mph in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia. He’s teaming with Olivier Beretta and Robin Liddell.

“For sure we are in a great position for starting the race, but the race will be more than nine hours, so it’s only a starting point,” Malucelli said. “Tomorrow I hope we’re in dry conditions. We have a bit of a problem in the rain.”

Spencer Pumpelly won the GT Challenge class pole at 108.704 mph. He’s driving the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Nelson Canache Jr. and Madison Snow.

Saturday’s Petit Le Mans will be the final ALMS race. The series is merging with GRAND-AM to form the United SportsCar Championship in 2014.

(This story will be updated shortly)

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 18 2013
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