P1 - Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY (US); Guy Smith, Bracken, Yorkshire (GB); Lola B09 86/Mazda (LMP1), 1:14.001, 179.998 [ctrl-click image for press conference slideshow]. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)
Smith, Jeannette, Hand, and Bleekemolen Top ALMS Qualifying At Long Beach
It was a classic and perfect day to have qualifications on the track laid out on the streets of the Shoreline Village area adjacent to downtown Long Beach. The sun was out with a very light afternoon breeze with the temperature approaching the low eighties when each of the classes in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (LMP1, LMPC, GT, and GTC) took to the track at the end of a day of preparation.
One of the most dramatic duels just happened to be for top honors and P1 on the grid to start the race. Chris Dyson, owner and driver of the Dyson Racing Mazda-powered Lola coupe sponsored by G-Oil stated it best when he said, "You know, you need two cars to make a car race and let me tell ya' ... that it was touch and go."
In the pits, Chris communicates with Guy Smith as he concentrates at getting the most out of his Mazda but he could not tell him that the lead changed between the Mazda that the Muscle Milk 12 cylinder Aston Martin ... yes, the other car in the LMP1 class ... eight times during the fifteen minute qualification session.
AUDIO Of Post ALMS Qualification Press Interview HERE
(Length - 28 min. 24 sec. - GTC begin to 2:20/GT 2:20 - 6:03/LMPC 6:03 - 15:09/LMP1 15:09 - 28:24)
Other highlights included the following edited and excerpted from email issued by the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón -
LMPC - Gunnar Jeannette took pole position in LMP Challenge for CORE autosport, the first for the rookie ALMS team. His lap of 1:17.736 (91.139 mph) in the ORECA FLM09 that he will share with Ricardo Gonzalez was only 0.388 seconds quicker than Kyle Marcelli in Intersport Racing’s entry. He will team with Tomy Drissi.
“We had both our cars on the podium at Sebring and now our first pole,” Jeannette said. “So obviously we’ll be looking for our first win Saturday. It will be crazy, that’s for sure. Because of the regulations, I’m actually losing distance to the GT cars on the straight. It will be difficult and our class is extremely competitive. I’ll do my best to stay clean and let things sort themselves out.”
GT - Joey Hand’s remarkable season continued with his second career ALMS pole position and first at Long Beach. The Californian set a lap of 1:19.090 (89.579 mph) in the BMW M3 GT that he will pilot with Dirk Mueller for BMW Team RLL. Following up on a victory at the ALMS opener in Sebring and overall at the Daytona 24 Hours, Hand won a hard-fought session that saw the top four cars within 0.373 seconds.
“It’s been a good year and all about momentum,” Hand said. “This is one my favorite venues and I’ve wanted to win here for a long time. On a street course like this, the first guy fast is the guy to beat. So I wanted to go out from the beginning and be that guy. Our car was so good on the balance that I was honestly surprised.”
GTC - Jeroen Bleekemolen got his Long Beach pole position after a year of waiting with a lap of 1:23.179 (85.175 mph) for Black Swan Racing. The Dutch pilot broke Andy Lally’s qualifying record from last year by nearly a full second in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry he will share with team owner Tim Pappas. BSR made its GTC debut at Long Beach last year, went on to win four times and claim the class championship.
Bleekemolen was the fastest qualifier last year at Long Beach before the car was excluded in post-session inspections due to an improper fuel mixture.
“We’ve come a long way since last year,” said the former LMP2 winner at Le Mans and Porsche Supercup champion. “We didn’t get the result we wanted here but our guys learned and took so many poles and wins after that. And they started with a win at Sebring this season. But we know it will be tough all year, just by looking at the times."
Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach
Long Beach street circuit, Long Beach, Calif.
1. Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY (US); Guy Smith, Bracken, Yorkshire (GB); Lola B09 86/Mazda (LMP1), 1:14.001, 179.998
2. Lucas Luhr, Monte Carlo (DE); Klaus Graf, Dornham (DE); AMR/ Lola Coupe B08 62 (LMP1), 1:14.453, 178.905
3. Gunnar Jeannette, Salt Lake City, UT (US); Ricardo Gonzalez, Monterrey (MX); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:17.736, 171.349
4. Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, ON (CA); Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, CA (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:18.124, 170.498
5. Alex Figge, Denver, CO (US); Miles Maroney, Topanga, CA (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:18.286, 170.145
6. Eric Lux, Jacksonville, FL (US); Elton Julian, Santa Monica, CA (Spa); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:18.690, 169.272
7. Dirk Mueller, Monte Carlo (DE); Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA (US); BMW M3 GT (GT), 1:19.090, 168.416
8. Oliver Gavin, Yardley Hastings (GB); Jan Magnussen, Roskilde (DK); Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (GT), 1:19.137, 168.316
9. Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, CA (US); Dirk Werner, Kissenbrück (DE); BMW M3 GT (GT), 1:19.447, 167.659
10. Joerg Bergmeister, Langenfield (DE); Patrick Long, Bellaire, FL (US); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:19.463, 167.625
11. Bryan Sellers, Braselton, GA (US); Wolf Henzler, Nuertingen (DE); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:20.065, 166.365
12. Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL (US); Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA (US); Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:20.167, 166.153
13. Ed Brown, Las Vegas, NV (US); Guy Cosmo, West Palm Beach, FL (US); Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:20.176, 166.135
14. Bryce Miller, Summit, NJ (US); Sascha Maassen, Lontzen (DE); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:20.646, 165.166
15. Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo (MC); Tommy Milner, Leesburg, VA (US); Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (GT), 1:20.724, 165.007
16. Bruno Junqueira, Brazil (BRA); Cristiano da Matta, Belo, Horizonte (BRA); Jaguar XKR (GT), 1:20.924, 164.599
17. Jon Bennett, Fort Mill, SC (US); Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands, NJ (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:21.387, 163.663
18. PJ Jones, Torrance, CA (US); Paul Gentilozzi, Grand Ledge, MI (USA); Jaguar XKR (GT), 1:22.244, 161.957
19. Tim Pappas, Boston, MA (US); Jeroen Bleekemolen, Monte Carlo, (Net); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:23.179, 160.137
20. Bill Sweedler, Westport, CT (US); Leh Keen, Dublin, GA (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:23.853, 158.849
21. Nicky Pastorelli, Rijswijk (NL); Dominik Schwager, Eisenhofen (DEU); Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (GT), 1:23.906, 158.749
22. Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, VA (USA); Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, CA (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:24.134, 158.319
23. John Potter, Salt Lake City, UT (USA); Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:24.362, 157.891
24. Bret Curtis, Valencia, CA (US); James Sofronas, Newport Beach, CA (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:24.651, 157.352
25. Dion von Moltke, Coral Gables, FL (USA); Brendan Gaughan, Las Vegas, NV (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:24.878, 156.931
26. Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ (US); Seth Neiman, San Francisco, CA (US); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:25.543, 155.711
27. Nick Ham, Evergreen, CO (US); Scott Blackett, Avon, CO (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:25.743, 155.348
28. Jaime Melo, Milan (BR); Toni Vilander, Kankaanpaa (FIN); Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:48.071, 123.252
29. Anthony Nicolosi, Palm Beach, FL (US); Jarrett Boon, Phoenix, AZ (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), No Time
30. Scott Tucker, Leawood, KS (US); Christophe Bouchut, Paris (Fra); Lola Honda (LMP2), No Time
31. Luis Diaz, Mexico City (MX); Scott Tucker, Leawood, KS (US); Lola Honda (LMP2), No Time.
This pole by the Mazda powered Dyson Racing Lola provided a much-needed lift for Mazda, which remains in shock following last month’s horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
As said Chris Dyson at the end of the Press Conference - "The people in the home country, the Mazda folks, they have come through an enormous ... enormous tragedy, and with enormous implications for their, for that country and we are honored to be able to deliver and at least enable them to have some light in what has been a very dark existence for a number of weeks. We hope that anything we do here will make them pleased and honored ... that we are part of it - we are definitely, have them in our minds and our hearts, throughout - since the whole thing happened."
The Long Beach round will go live on ESPN3.com at 4:15 p.m. PT. Fans outside the U.S. can access live broadcasts through americanlemans.com, which also offers live timing and scoring throughout the weekend. The race will air on ESPN2 on Sunday, April 17, at 5 p.m. (ET). Visit the American Le Mans Series' schedule page for information on tickets and area accommodations.