American Le Mans Series

Jani Takes Second ALMS Pole At Laguna Seca

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Jani followed his Long Beach pole with another top spot in California (Photo Credit: Ryan Smith)

Neel Jani secured his second straight American Le Mans Series pole position, placing his Rebellion Racing Lola coupe at the top end of the grid at Mazda Speedway.

Jani was 0.377 seconds than the Guy Smith‘s Dyson Racing Lola on his first ALMS trip to Laguna Seca, with Klaus Graf rounding out the top three in the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda.

“We’ve proved in qualifying and in the races that we have a really good pace,” said Jani, who drives with Nick Heidfeld. “But we know ALMS is about strategy and traffic management, especially since the races are shorter than in the World Endurance Championship.“

The P2 class saw Marino Franchitti take the top spot for the first time since 2010, placing his Level 5 Motorsports Honda alongside team-mate Ryan Briscoe on the front row.

“After the tough race we had at Long Beach for Level 5, Scott [Tucker, co-driver and team owner], Ryan, myself and the whole team have been working hard to bounce back strong, and we’ve done that today,” explained Franchitti. “The cars are very close, and getting a 1-2 result was our aim. It was important to get that. The Extreme Speed Motorsports [Level 5’s P2 rivals who took a 1-2 result at Long Beach] cars are strong, maybe not as strong as at Long Beach, but they’ll be there over the four hours. If we slip up, they’ll be there.”

Pole position in the GT class went to Matteo Malucelli in only the Italian’s third ALMS event, setting a time of 1:22.732 in the Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia. Malucelli was less than one tenth of a second faster than second placed Patrick Long in the Core Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

“This is good for me – my first qualifying session and first pole,” said Malucelli. “We had some problems with the car Thursday but our crew fixed it. I have to say thank you to Michelin and the Risi team because they did an amazing job with the car. “I know it will be a tough race, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Core Autosport took another front row start in the Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tyres class, with Colin Braun‘s time of 1:18.382 good enough for pole position. Joining Braun on the front row will be ALMS newcomer Renger van der Zande in the DragonSpeed Mishumotors Oreca.

Finally, the GTC class pole went to Jeroen Bleekemolen for the second round in a row in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Nick Tandy‘s NGT Motorsports Porsche will join Bleekemolen on the front row for the start of the race.

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Based in Mid-Wales, James joined TCF at the start of the 2013 season, covering a range of disciplines, predominantly Motorcycle Road Racing and NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @JCCharman
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