Guy Smith clinched the first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) pole position of the year for Dyson Racing, winning the qualifying duel at Lime Rock Park against Lucas Luhr.
Only a tenth of a second split the two at the close of the 15 minutes qualifying session around the tiny Connecticut track, Smith's pole lap stopping the timers at just 44.017 seconds to put the Mazda powered Lola coupe co-driven by Chris Dyson on pole position for tomorrow's (Saturday July 7) two-hour, 45-minute American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix.
“It was a bit nip and tuck and very entertaining,” Smith said. “We have struggled this year; it has been an uphill battle. After the Monterey round [team owner] Rob Dyson said we need to knuckle down and put in the work. We’ve worked for the last seven weeks and tested and tested and tested. We’ve come here and regrouped and focused on what we need to focus on, so let's hope this is a turning point for us tomorrow.”
Luhr – part of an all German line-up alongside Klaus Graf in the Muscle Milk Racing HPD – will line up second ahead of the best of the P2 class cars in the Level 5 Motorsport HPD qualified by Christophe Bouchut. The P2 class was a tour de force for Scott Tucker's two car team. Tucker himself is slated to take stints in both cars during the race, though both cars were qualified by his co-drivers, Luis Diaz slotting the other car into fifth overall and second in P2, but just seven-hundredths ahead of Martin Plowman in the Morgan chassis run by the Conquest Endurance team.
The fastest time in the GT session went to Bill Auberlen – one of several drivers making their 100th ALMS start this weekend – and the BMW Team RLL outfit. As all five classes that comprise the ALMS beat their respective qualifying records Auberlen eclipsed the previous best set by BMW teammate Joey Hand at last year's event. Hand – qualifying the sister BMW M3 in third.
The two Bimmers were split – ultimately – by a final lap run from Oliver Gavin in the Corvette he shares with ex-BMW driver Tommy Milner. Initially Gavin's late lap put him third amongst the GT cars, missing out on second spot by a single thousandth to Marco Holzer in the better of two Flying Lizard Motorsports run Porsche. Holzer's charge, however, would fail the post session ride height test, relegating he and co-driver Seth Neiman to the rear of the 30 car field.
The class pace setters were completed by Canadian Kyle Marcelli who topped LMPC and Leh Keen who put the Alex Job Racing entry fastest among the Porsches contesting GTC.