Popular Australian Racer Continues Family’s Success At Famed Canadian Track
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada — Veteran David Brabham battled young star Simon Pagenaud right down to the wire Saturday to win his 12th career American Le Mans Series pole position in preparation for Sunday’s Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport at the legendary Mosport International Raceway, just outside of Toronto.
Brabham, the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans overall champion, posted a superb one minute, 5.323 second clocking on his fourth lap of the 20-minute qualifying session on the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit and watched the French youngster take a shot at stealing the pole on his concluding laps. Driving the No. 9 Patrón Highcroft Acura ARX-02a prototype sports car, Brabham waited until the nine-minute mark of qualifying to actually enter the racing surface and quickly established the speed to beat with a clocking of 135.517 miles per hour.
Brabham, who’ll team with Scott Sharp in Sunday’s two-hour, 45-minute main event, didn’t show his hand until it counted in qualifications. It was Brabham’s second 2009 pole and 18th of his ALMS career.
Brabham, 43, won the LMP2 class with Sharp last year at Mosport, matching his father, Sir Jack’s, 1967 Mosport win when the elder Brabham and former Formula One champion took the Canadian Grand Prix. Brabham’s older brother, Geoff, finished second at Mosport in a 1981 Can-Am race but never won at the famed track.
Pagenaud, a three-time pole winner this year, drove his No. 66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a to a time of one minute, 5.397 seconds, just .074 seconds off Brabham’s pole clocking. Pagenaud, who will co-drive with Gil de Ferran Sunday, looked to be in position to match or better Brabham’s run, but the 25-year-old Frenchman just missed on each of his final three laps to settle for second on the grid.
Acura’s overall pole was the eighth in eight American Le Mans Series races this year.
Brabham and Sharp hold a 13-point advantage in the LMP1 standings entering Sunday’s Mosport race in a tight contest with the de Ferran Motorsports team. Brabham and Sharp won this year at St. Petersburg and Road America, while Pagenaud and de Ferran have four victories [Long Beach, Utah, Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio].
In the LMP2 category, Marino Franchitti won his second pole of the year in the Dyson Racing Mazda, with Chris Dyson second in a Mazda and Luis Diaz third in the No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): “We were a little behind with our car at the beginning of the weekend. We have improved the Acura’s handling and we felt confident for qualifying. Winning pole here is always a thrill. My dad and my brother have done well here before, so I am pleased to take pole. The track surface is not as good due to the rain this morning. This place is tough on a driver. Turns Two and Eight are hard for you. It is quite a ride at this track. It is an old-school circuit."
SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): “I tried very hard to take a run at David’s time today. We are very close with the Acura cars and it gets to be a shootout. I had a little traffic on my fastest lap that might have made a difference in winning the pole. But, overall, we want to be ready for the race.”
LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): “This place is just flat out all of the time. There are really only four corners where you brake. And our straight-line speed is not as fast as the Mazdas. The car feels very good and it will be good in the race. But for qualifying, we just couldn’t stay with them. I feel good about our chances for the race.”