Rebellion takes Petit Le Mans pole

Rebellion takes Petit Le Mans pole

ALMS

Rebellion takes Petit Le Mans pole

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The last ALMS pole winner. (LAT photo)

Rebellion Racing will start the final American Le Mans Series race from pole after Neel Jani topped Petit Le Mans qualifying at Road Atlanta.

Chris Dyson beached the Dyson Lola in spectacular fashion when he locked up braking hard for the Turn 10 chicane, bringing out the red flags. The stoppage meant a five-minute shootout for pole and though Lucas Luhr improved to a 1m10.397s for the champion Muscle Milk Pickett HPD squad, Jani lowered his benchmark further, claiming pole with an eventual best of 1m09.254s.

?It’s nice to be back racing in America, because we have a fight again with the Muscle Milk team,? said Jani, who captured 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.? 

Ryan Briscoe headed the fight for LMP2 pole before the red flag in the No. 551 Level 5 car but David Brabham, driving the No. 01 Extreme Speed entry, appeared to snatched it with a stunning effort after the stoppage.

Briscoe rallied, regaining top spot with a 1m12.490s as Guy Cosmo slotted into third ” with Brabham the meat in a Level 5 sandwich ” but the poleman suffered an apparent fuel pick-up problem in the session’s climax and broke down on-track.

?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 looked as though he would have to settle for second after being usurped from top spot in LMPC by Bruno Junqueira. But the Mathiasen driver squeezed back ahead of his returning rival before extending his advantage with the second of two laps good enough for pole.

?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.? 

Junqueira responded in the wrong way, skating over the Turn 5 gravel and clipping the tire wall right at the end of the session. Briton Tom Kimber-Smith nipped ahead of Kyle Marcelli to claim third.

RISI TOPS GT BATTLE

Matteo Malucelli’s Risi Ferrari 458 Italia claimed GT honors in a tight qualifying session in which the top seven cars were covered by just over half a second.

Each of the five manufacturers represented in the series was in the early lead quintet, though the SRT Vipers swiftly put an end to that with Jonathan Bomarito emerged as the main challenger to Malucelli’s 1m18.861s benchmark and closed the gap to 0.027 second.

Despite the Ferrari driver returning to the pits with five minutes remaining, Bomarito could not improve further.

?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.? 

Marc Goossens brought the second Viper into play in the closing stages of the session, just edging out Antonia Garcia in the first of the Corvettes in the process, but fell a tenth short of his teammate.

Dirk Muller (RLL) and Bryan Sellers (Falken) were the lead BMW and Porsche cars, respectively, in fifth and sixth, just ahead of Oliver Gavin in the second Corvette.

In GTC, Spencer Pumpelly led the session’s early running with a benchmark of 1m24.118s set in the opening stages of the session. Andy Lally and Jeroen Bleekemolen gave chase and although the latter found enough time to haul him into second, he could do nothing about Pumpelly in front.

?When you get a pole on a day like today, you really hold it with regard,? Pumpelly said. ?This is a home race for me, living in downtown Atlanta, and the last qualifying session for the ALMS. Tomorrow we have a very slim chance at the driver’s championship, but we can end up with the team championship so we’re going to stay focused and do our best.? 

Pos Cl                                    Team/Car                   Time        Cl Gap 1. P1   Heidfeld/Jani/Prost              Rebellion Lola-Toyota      1m09.254s        2. P1   Graf/Luhr/Dumas                  Pickett HPD                1m10.397s  +1.143s 3. P2   Sharp/Lazzaro/Brabham            Extreme Speed HPD          1m12.668s     4. P2   Tucker/Briscoe/Franchitti        Level 5 HPD                1m12.792s  +0.124s 5. P2   Cosmo/Kane/Dumbreck              Level 5 HPD                1m13.637s  +0.969s 6. P2   Brown/van Overbeek/Bell          Extreme Speed HPD          1m13.929s  +1.261s 7. PC   Guasch/Cheng/Cameron             PR1 Mathiasen FLM          1m14.955s    8. P1   Dyson/Burgess/McMurry            Dyson-Lola                 1m14.978s  +5.724s 9. PC   Junqueira/Ende/Menezes           ORECA FLM09                1m15.143s  +0.188s10. PC   Bennett/Kimber-Smith/Wilkins     CORE FLM                   1m15.215s  +0.260s11. PC   Marcelli/Cumming/Johansson       BAR1 FLM                   1m15.367s  +0.412s12. PC   Rayhall/Negri                    8Star FLM                  1m15.399s  +0.444s13. PC   Nunez/Shears                     Performance Tech FLM       1m15.604s  +0.649s14. PC   Drissi/Mitchell/French           BAR1 FLM                   1m16.001s  +1.046s15. P1   Meyrick/Legge                    DeltaWing                  1m16.206s  +6.952s16. GT   Beretta/Malucelli/Liddell        Risi Ferrari               1m18.861s   17. GT   Bomarito/Wittmer/Kendall         SRT Viper                  1m18.888s  +0.027s18. GT   Farnbacher/Goossens/Dalziel      SRT Viper                  1m19.017s  +0.156s19. GT   Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor          Corvette                   1m19.128s  +0.267s20. GT   Müller/Edwards/Auberlen          RLL BMW                    1m19.228s  +0.367s21. GT   Henzler/Sellers/Tandy            Falken Porsche             1m19.386s  +0.525s22. GT   Gavin/Milner/Westbrook           Corvette                   1m19.440s  +0.579s23. GT   Long/Braun/Christensen           CORE Porsche               1m19.947s  +1.086s24. GT   Alzen/Martin/Müller              RLL BMW                    1m19.954s  +1.093s25. GT   Miller/Holzer/Collard            Miller Porsche             1m20.497s  +1.636s26. GT   Sweedler/Keen/Mowlem             Ferrari F458 Italia        1m20.506s  +1.645s27. GTC  Canache, Jr./Pumpelly/Snow       Flying Lizard Porsche      1m24.118s 28. GTC  MacNeil/Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen  Alex Job Porsche           1m24.433s  +0.315s29. GTC  Dempsey/Lally/Foster             Dempsey Del Piero Porsche  1m24.480s  +0.362s30. GTC  Hedlund/Heylen/Fogarty           JDX Porsche                1m24.923s  +0.805s31. GTC  Keating/Faulkner/Stanton         TRG Porsche                1m24.926s  +0.808s32. GTC  Armindo/Nielsen/Benitez, Jr.     NGT Porsche                1m25.237s  +1.119s33. GTC  Putman/Espenlaub/Law             Dempsey Del Piero Porsche  1m25.368s  +1.250s34. GTC  Neiman/von Moltke/Sandberg       Flying Lizard Porsche      1m28.039s  +3.921s

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