Bathgate’s Marino Franchitti kicked off Patrón Highcroft Racing’s defence of the American Le Mans Series in the best possible fashion by scoring pole position in qualifying for the opening race, the 58th running of the Sebring 12-Hours.
Although Franchitti will only drive the major endurance races with Aussie David Brabham and Frenchman Simon Pagenaud this year, the 30-year-old Scot was entrusted with the qualifying duties.
After again setting the fastest LMP2 class time in the morning practice, Franchitti completed a clean sweep in qualifying taking the pole with a best time of 1 minute, 47.684 seconds.
The margin in qualifying was only .056 of a second as the warm afternoon weather caused a deterioration in track conditions. Franchitti actually suffered a small spin while keeping the opposition Porsche and Mazda entries at bay.
The performance completed an amazing run for the Honda factory-backed ARX-01c machine which topped the LMP2 timesheet in every on-track session it contested this week. Franchitti’s time also put the Highcroft squad fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s 12 hour enduro.
The pole was Franchitti’s fifth in American Le Mans Series competition. The pole position is the second in a row for the ARX-01 chassis design. Last year’s LMP2 pole time was only 1:49.686.
“The conditions were not as good as this morning and in turn one I was close to flat through there, but not quite,” Franchitti explained. “I’m delighted for the Patrón Highcroft team. It’s a great start but we all have to get the job done.
“This is one trophy that I know the team wants to have in the trophy cabinet in Connecticut. I was really touched, amazed and happy to be asked to qualify the car. I didn’t think I would get the opportunity this year but both my team-mates gave me the backing to do that.
“When they asked me to do it, I was happy to accept. We still have a little bit of work to do on the car for the race but we have done a really thorough job in testing and our recipe book is full of stuff that we can do to make it sweet for the race.”