Gil de Ferran grabbed pole position for the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca in his last qualifying session before he retires from the driving seat.
The Brazilian, whose driving career also includes a 2003 Indianapolis 500 win, clocked the fastest lap (1:11.206) aboard his own team's Acura ARX 02a P1 class car. Along with being the last race drive for the team owner de Ferran Motorsports are also paying tribute to Jim Hall, the founder of the Chaparral sportscar marque, whose Open Wheel team de Ferran ran for in his first Champ Car seasons in 1995 and 1996.
Thus the normal dark livery of the car is absent, replaced by the familiar white livery favoured by Chaparrel entries for the 60s and 70s.
Despite a late session scare, when over aggressive driving seemed to damage the car de Ferran held off fellow Acura P1 team, and their main title rivals, Highcroft Racing, for who David Brabham could only a time of 1:11.298.
They are followed by the P2 Acura entry of Fernandez Racing, in what increasingly looks like their final outing due to financial reasons. Despite these problems, and the measures introduced this year to slow the P2 class down, driver Luis Diaz appeared to be on course to provide one of the shocks of the season as, clocking a lap of 1:11.3, he briefly led the entire field by half a second and while Diaz was unable to improve his time, so falling to third overall, it secured him P2 pole ahead of the No.20 Dyson Lola-Mazda, with Drayson Racing's P1 Lola-Judd behind, overcoming a problem that saw the left door open early in the session.
In the GT2 class it was the No.3 Corvette in the hands of Dane Jan Magnussen that took pole (I.25.053, and tenth overall, bettering the Risi Ferrari of Pierre Kaffer, who survived a lurid slide round the outside of the penultimate corner, and Oliver Gavin's sister Corvette. The championship leading Flying Lizard Porsche will line up fifth in class, needing only the points for ninth place to secure the title for drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.
And, finally in the Challenge class, which returns after having a separate race over the Petit Le Mans weekend, saw a commendable eight GT3 Porsches take to the track to fight for pole. Guy Cosmo, in the blue and yellow liveried No.47 car took pole with a lap of 1:29.546.
The four hour “racing into the darkness” event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca gets underway at 2:45pm local time.