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 |  Mar 20 2009, 10:08 AM

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Can a gasoline engine best a diesel one in endurance racing? It can during qualifying, as Acura proved by claiming the pole for the 12 Hours of Sebring race, set to take place tomorrow.

Scott Dixon shocked pretty much everyone on Thursday by piloting the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a to the pole with a time of just 1:45.27. Neither Audi or Peugeot (both favored to claim the pole over Acura) could post a better lap. Impressively this pole position is the first for Acura, during it’s first ever race in the top-level LMP1 class.

“I’ve watched this race for many years and it’s always been exciting so now it’s great that I get to race here,” Dixon said. “I’ve tested on the short track many times with IndyCar but never on the big track. So you can’t help but grin from ear to ear to be excited to drive here.”

“Overall it’s been a great week especially now having Acura on the overall pole,” Dixon said. “It was unexpected. We always shoot for the pole from the get-go. But realistically I thought we were only to be third or fourth. It was interesting when I heard I was going to qualify the car. I’m not sure why Gil picked me in the end, but I think all three of us could have done it.”

The battle for pole was a close one, however, with Tom Kristensen just 0.082 seconds behind in the new Audi R15. In fact, the fiels was so close that all top-five qualifiers were just 0.281 seconds apart.

The third fastest time was posted by Christian Klien in one of the Peugeot 908 HDi coupes.

In the LMP2 class, Acura also claimed the top spot with Adrian Fernandez in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b posting a 1:49.686.

As for the remainder of the classes, Corvette clinched the GT1 pole with a Oliver Gavin behind the wheel in what will be the last Sebring race for the C6.R as it retires later this season.

The final class, GT2 saw a Porsche on the pole with Dirk Werner in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 RSR running a time 2:03.051.

Complete qualifying results after the jump:

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