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De Ferran Wins Pole, Says Farewell

| , RacinToday.com Friday, August 7 2009


Gil de Ferran made a big statement on the track Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in qualifying for Saturday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge, the sixth stop in the American Le Mans Series. Then he made an even bigger statement in the media center after earning his pole position.

De Ferran, the 41-year-old veteran driver from Brazil, posted the fastest speed in the 20-minute qualifying session on the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio circuit in his No. 66 XM Satellite Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a sports car with a speed of 117.057 miles per hour while winning his team’s fifth pole of the 2009 ALMS campaign.

Then the two-time CART driving champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner announced he is retiring from driving at the conclusion of the 2009 season. The final ALMS race is set for Monterey, Calif., on Oct. 10.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always been driven by challenges,” de Ferran said. “While I’ve enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the No. 66 XM Radio DFM Acura ARX-02a, my main focus moving forward is to continue to build our team into a world-class motorsports organization. I feel that by returning to the cockpit for the past year, I have been competitive and added value to our team as a driver.

“Overall, I also feel we succeeded in developing this program to a point where I can now step down and dedicate 100 percent of my time to expanding our team. This is my fourth straight pole at Mid-Ohio. This place is very special to me. It felt great to win the pole in my final driving appearance here.”

De Ferran’s pole run was his fourth consecutive at the popular Mid-Ohio course after taking qualifying honors in 2000 and 2001 in CART open-wheel cars and in 2008 and 2009 in American Le Mans Series prototype sports cars. De Ferran retired from open-wheel racing in 2003 and returned to sports cars last year.

De Ferran, who’ll team with young star Simon Pagenaud in Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute race, nipped fellow Acura driver David Brabham by just over one-tenth of a mile per hour for the overall pole. Brabham drove the No.9 Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-02a to a speed of 116.941 m.p.h. for second on the grid.

De Ferran’s pole-winning speed led another Acura 1-2-3 overall qualifying performance, the fifth straight for the auto manufacturer in the ALMS road-racing campaign.

Luis Diaz, the Mexican star co-driving with Adrian Fernandez, recorded his third 2009 LMP2 class pole position by rounding out Acura’s 1-2-3 qualifying sweep in the No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b sports car. Fernandez and driving partner Luis Diaz have captured six LMP2 poles this year and will go for their fifth LMP2 race win Saturday.

| , RacinToday.com Friday, August 7 2009
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