Anthony Davidson stormed to pole for Saturday's Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda in the No. 7 Peugeot, setting a blistering time just weeks after sustaining a broken collarbone in a bicycling accident.
With traffic fully out of the way, all of the leading prototype contenders were able to properly stretch their legs for the first time. Times dropped by two seconds from the quickest practice laps, and Davidson's eventual pole lap was achieved using a much smaller engine than last year.
The Englishman's second straight pole in the American Le Mans Series' second-longest event of the season came with a time of 1:07.428 in his Peugeot 908 (3.7-liter V8). A year ago he set pole with a time of 1:07.187 in the previous generation 908 HDi FAP (5.5-liter V12), still on the grid with Team ORECA Matmut.
“The shoulder (injury) made me drive faster to get out of the car!” Davidson said post-qualifying. “I drove a better lap the second lap, but the tires/heat took them over the edge. There could have been more time to find.”
Timo Bernhard put Audi alongside, the No. 1 R18 TDI gathering a front-row start in its first U.S. appearance. Bernhard was little more than a tenth off, at 1:07.556. Stephane Sarrazin and Dindo Capello in the No. 8 Peugeot and No. 2 Audi, respectively, start in row two.
Rebellion Racing secured the unofficial LMP1 gasoline subcategory pole, sixth and 2.695sec behind the overall pole. Andrea Belicchi did the driving in the No. 12 Lola-Toyota coupe. ALMS regulars Dyson Racing and Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing were mired in ninth, 11th and 12th with Steven Kane quickest of the three in the No. 20 Lola Mazda coupe.
Luis Diaz pulled out a last-lap flier to put Level 5's new cost-capped HPD ARX-01g entry on pole in LMP2. That time of 1:12.335 beat Peugeot reserve driver JK Vernay in his ALMS debut, racing the Signatech ORECA 03 Nissan, by 0.305sec.
Kyle Marcelli took the LMP Challenge pole in a Frankenstein-looking backup chassis for Intersport. The team brought out its backup car, which had been withdrawn, and Marcelli maximized every ounce of pace with a time a full 0.743sec quicker than second-placed Dane Cameron, in Genoa's No. 36 car. Unfortunately for Cameron, who's been blindingly quick all week, that car has not been guaranteed a starting position and would likely only race if two cars ahead of it dropped out.
The class title battle sees the No. 06 and No. 063 cars from CORE autosport and Genoa fourth and fifth (likely third and fourth) on the grid. While Gunnar Jeannette qualified the CORE car, Jordan Grogor switched from the sister Genoa car to qualify the No. 063 and was four-tenths down on Jeannette. The No. 063 with Eric Lux has a three-point lead entering the race.
As in Sebring, ILMC-entrants AF Corse beat the entire GT field, but with a caveat. Gianmaria Bruni pulled the pole at Sebring with a Ferrari F430 GT, and did likewise for Petit but in the new Ferrari F458 Italia.
Bruni's time of 1:18.699 easily eclipsed the 2010 pole time set by Jaime Melo in a F430 at 1:19.889.
BMW starts second and third, while the Risi Ferrari F458 lines up fourth and No. 045 Flying Lizard Porsche in fifth.
“Being fast is all about the foot,” Bruni said. “I think this team and the car has a great package. We have a good team at the track and a good team at the factory. They did some testing early and over the weekend. When we came here the car was really good straight away. We made small changes round after round in each session so it was never a lot of changes.”
AF Corse made it a pole double with the F430 on pole in GTE Am, with Rui Aguas driving the team's No. 61 entry. GTC pole again went to Jeroen Bleekemolen of Black Swan Racing, his fourth of the season and third in a row. The TRG teammates are in tow with Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende trying to overtake Bleekemolen's co-driver Tim Pappas for the class championship.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
1. P1 Bourdais/Pagenaud/Davidson Peugeot 1m07.428s
2. P1 Bernhard/Dumas/Fassler Audi 1m07.556s
3. P1 Montagny/Sarrazin/Wurz Peugeot 1m07.881s
4. P1 Capello/Kristensen/McNish Audi 1m08.013s
5. P1 Lapierre/Minassian/Gene ORECA Peugeot 1m09.777s
6. P1 Prost/Jani/Belicchi Rebellion Lola-Toyota 1m10.123s
7. P1 Pla/Premat/Yvon OAK Pescarolo 1m10.355s
8. P1 Fernandez/Primat/Mucke AMR Lola-Aston 1m10.485s
9. P1 Al Masaood/Kane/Leitzinger Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m10.811s
10. P1 Lahaye/Moreau/Ragues OAK Pescarolo 1m10.864s
11. P1 Luhr/Graf/Pickett Muscle Milk Lola-Aston 1m10.948s
12. P1 Dyson/Smith/Cochran Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m11.396s
13. P2 Tucker/Franchitti/Diaz Level 5 HPD 1m12.335s
14. P2 Mailleux/Ordonez/Vernay Signatech ORECA-Nissan 1m12.640s
15. P2 Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa Level 5 HPD 1m12.729s
16. P2 Nicolet/da Rocha/Lafargue OAK Pescarolo 1m14.654s
17. PC Ducote/Ducote/Marcelli/Drissi Intersport FLM 1m14.848s
18. P2 Brown/Johansson/Patterson United OAK Pescarolo 1m15.158s
19. PC Grogor/Mitchell/Kronfli/Cameron Genoa FLM 1m15.591s
20. PC Dobson/Richard/Lewis PR1 Mathiasen FLM 1m15.649s
21. PC Jeannette/Gonzalez/Junco CORE Autosport FLM 1m15.688s
22. PC Lux/Julian/Zugel/Grogor Genoa FLM 1m16.069s
23. PC Bennett/Montecalvo/Dalziel CORE Autosport FLM 1m16.553s
24. P1 Burgess/McMurry/Willman Autocon Lola-AER 1m18.420s
25. GT Fisichella/Bruni/Kaffer AF Corse Ferrari 1m18.699s
26. GT Auberlen/Werner/Farfus BMW 1m18.786s
27. GT Muller/Hand/Priaulx BMW 1m19.219s
28. GT Melo/Vilander/Matos Risi Ferrari 1m19.247s
29. GT Bergmeister/Long/Pilet Flying Lizard Porsche 1m19.511s
30. GT Sharp/van Overbeek/Farnbacher Extreme Speed Ferrari 1m19.519s
31. GT Ortelli/Makowiecki/Beltoise Luxury Ferrari 1m19.539s
32. GT Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook Corvette 1m19.586s
33. GT Beretta/Milner/Garcia Corvette 1m19.619s
34. GT Brown/Cosmo/Bell Extreme Speed Ferrari 1m19.705s
35. GT Firman/Jakubowski/Halliday Luxury Ferrari 1m20.294s
36. GTE-A Kauffman/Aguas/Bell AF Corse Ferrari 1m20.619s
37. GT Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger Falken Porsche 1m20.777s
38. GTE-A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Krohn Ferrari 1m20.880s
39. GTE-A Lietz/Ried Proton Porsche 1m20.897s
40. GT Junqueira/Wilden/James RSR Jaguar 1m20.996s
41. GT Neiman/Holzer/Law Flying Lizard Porsche 1m21.090s
42. GTE-A Bornhauser/Canal/Gardel Larbre Corvette 1m21.164s
43. GTE-A Ehret/Mullen/Wills CRS Ferrari 1m21.294s
44. GT Jones/Moran/Lewis RSR Jaguar 1m21.335s
45. GT Miller/Maassen/Collard Miller Porsche 1m21.577s
46. GT Rossiter/Mowlem/Hansson Jetalliance Lotus 1m22.560s
47. GTE-A Giroix/Kauffman/Wainwright Gulf Aston Martin 1m23.075s
48. GT Slingerland/Rich/Kasper Jetalliance Lotus 1m23.760s
49. PC Nicolosi/Boon/Lueders Performance Tech FLM 1m23.810s
50. GTC Pappas/Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen Black Swan Porsche 1m24.543s
51. GTC Ende/Pumpelly/Ludwig TRG Porsche 1m24.596s
52. GTC von Moltke/Norman/Keating TRG Porsche 1m24.844s
53. GTC Sweedler/Wong/Keen Alex Job Porsche 1m24.861s
54. GTC Potter/Stanton/Eversley Magnus Porsche 1m25.206s