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Highcroft’s High Continues At Mosport

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 29 2009
David Brabham was top qualifier at Mosport.

David Brabham was top qualifier at Mosport.

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer

Bowmanville, Ont. – David Brabham put his Highcoft Racing Acura on the limit at the harrowing Turns 1 and 2 to claim the pole at Mosport International Raceway. After breaking the four-race winning streak of de Ferran Motorsports at Road America, the Highcroft team sustained momentum in the tight battle for the American Le Mans Series championship.

“There’s no room for error,” said Brabham of the track that winds through the glacially formed hills and forrests of Ontario. “It’s just one of those daunting race tracks that really gets your attention.”

The pole, Highcroft’s first since the third round in Long Beach in April, sustains the team’s momentum in the points battle for the LMP1 title with three of ten races remaining. “We do have a little bit of an advantage in the points,” he said of Highcroft’s 13-point margin in the drivers and teams chase. “It’s all about preparation and it’s all in believing yourself. To get beat four straight races and come back to win says a lot about the team.”

The de Ferran team was forced to change its transmission after the Saturday morning practice, held in intermittant light rain. Simon Pagenaud ran the same number of hot laps as Brabham, but fell short by 0.074 seconds in the dry afternoon session.

There are no points for qualifying in the ALMS, so the de Ferran team will try to close the points gap again in Sunday’s two hour, 45-minute event.

Because both Acura ARX-02a entries are factory-backed, there’s an open exchange of information, which will allow de Ferran to make adjustments should it choose. Brabham thought his team’s choice of which high-speed segment of the 2.459-mile track to set up for spelled the difference.

“We were able to take Turns 1 and 2 flat and I think that was the difference,” said Brabham, who clocked 1:05.323 (135.517 mph). “You have to compromise on the set-up. They were set up for Turn 8 (at the end of the back straight).” After changes to front and rear wings in this year’s rules, the Acura driver fell short of Dindo Capello’s record lap of 1:04.094 set last year in an Audi R10 TDI.

Lowe’s Fernandez Racing needs only a class victory in LMP2 to clinch the championship for Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz in their Acura ARX-01b. But Dyson Racing continues to build momentum with its Lola-Mazda. Marino Franchitti won his second straight pole with a lap just one second shy of LMP1 pole sitter Brabham.

“There’s so many Scottish people here I feel right at home,” said Franchitti, who qualified for a second straight time because the Dyson team allows its drivers to divide up their qualifying sessions according to preferences for tracks. Obviously, the Scotsman enjoys Mosport.

“I think it’s a matter of not thinking about it and committing yourself and taking it as it comes,” he said of the changing conditions, including intermittant cloud cover and sunshine on a breezy day.

Despite a qualifying margin of a tenth of a second, Dyson will have it work cut out. It has to build a gap to account for the greater fuel consumption of the AER-built, Mazda-badged turbo.

The BMW team of Rahal Letterman Racing has the momentum in GT2’s factory battleground. The Dunlop-shod team swept the front row in the class for the second straight race after scoring its first victory at Road America. This time, Dirk Mueller backed up his pole in a BMW M3 at Mosport in 2001 with a lap of 1:17.528, clear of the No. 90 RLR entry driven by Joey Hand by 0.131 seconds. Next up were the Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Wolf Henzler and the Corvette Racing C6.R of Oliver Gavin, the only other drivers in the 1:17 range.

Points leaders Flying Lizard Motorsports were fifth in class with Patrick Long handling qualifying.

As if to underscore the speed and difficulty of Turn 1’s downhill righthander, Jaime Melo put a wheel off in the Risi Competizione Ferrari and ended up skating into the outside wall. The team will spend the evening and night repairing bodywork and suspension on the 430 Berlinetta GT’s left side.

NOTES:  Pole winner Barbham’s father Jack was the winner at Mosport at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1967. Brabham dedicated the pole to Frank Gardner, the legendary Australian team owner who died earlier in the week. “This one’s for you, mate,” said Brabham of the longtime family friend. …Dyson Racing has won two ALMS events over-all at Mosport in Lolas and three in the World Sports Car era with its Riley & Scott Mk. III.

The No. 44 Porsche of Flying Lizard and the GT3 RSR of Farnbacher Loles will start at the back of the field, because the respective co-drivers Darren Law and Derk Werner missed the official practice sessions on Saturday while racing in Montreal at the Grand-Am event.

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 29 2009
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