–IMSA Press Release–
Acura locked out the front-row overall and for the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race at Mosport, with Meyer Shank Racing’s Tom Blomqvist claiming pole position for the second consecutive year at CTMP.
Blomqvist, who set the track record at the circuit last year in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class that preceded GTP’s debut this year, lapped the 10-turn, 2.459-mile facility Saturday in 1 minute, 5.653 seconds (134.836 mph) behind the wheel of the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06. That was 0.081 seconds better than Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 (1:05.734/134.670 mph). Pipo Derani was another 0.095 seconds in arrears in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R.
It was the fifth career pole in IMSA competition for Blomqvist, who shares the No. 60 Acura with Colin Braun, a five-time winner at CTMP.
“It’s always a hell of a commitment around this track, no matter what kind of car you’re in,” said Blomqvist. “When you put new tires on and take the fuel out around here, your minimum speeds go up drastically. It’s just a night-and-day difference when you take it for a qualifying run. It’s such a good feeling.
“Actually, last year, the car was a lot more of a wild ride,” he continued with a chuckle. “We’ve got a good car this year; it’s a bit more forgiving. Nonetheless, I wasn’t too happy with my personal performance in that session. It was a little bit messy from my side, but I’m still sitting here (as the pole winner), which is fantastic, and testament to the job the team has done.”
In last year’s Chevrolet Grand Prix, the pole-winning No. 60 Acura held the lead through most of the race before Blomqvist’s former co-driver Oliver Jarvis was passed in traffic by Renger van der Zande’s Cadillac. The bitter memory lingers for Blomqvist.
“This is a difficult track to pass, but there are so many cars on track that you always have an opportunity to pass in traffic,” he said. “But it’s also easy to get caught out if you make a bad decision and just read a competitor slightly wrong.
“Tomorrow we just need to get the job done,” Blomqvist added. “Colin has been really, really quick around here. He loves this place; he loves the high-speed corners, so it’s perfect for him. I just need to do my job at the start, hopefully give the car to him in the lead, and we can get the job done from there. You’ve got to be on your game and make all the right calls. I’m confident for tomorrow.”
Defending Chevrolet Grand Prix winners van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais will start fourth in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac, followed by Felipe Nasr and Matt Campbell in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963, and Augusto Farfus and Philipp Eng in the No. 24 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8, as all four participating GTP manufacturers qualified a car in the top six.
Hawksworth takes GTD Pro pole
The immediate goal for Vasser Sullivan at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is to maintain the momentum.
The first step in that goal was accomplished Saturday in record-breaking style.
Jack Hawksworth put the team’s No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 on pole position in the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class for Sunday’s Chevrolet Grand Prix, positioning Vasser Sullivan in the prime spot to win for the third time this season.
Hawksworth broke the GTD PRO track record with a lap of 1 minute, 15.029 seconds (117.986 mph) around the 10-turn, 2.459-mile course, letting Hawksworth and co-driver Ben Barnicoat further extend their class points lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“The car was incredible from the minute we rolled off,” Hawksworth said after collecting his 10th career Motul Pole Award. “This is one of those tracks where the Lexus runs well, so we know when we come here (that) we have to capitalize.”
Capitalizing has been the team’s modus operandi this season. The No. 14 Lexus is coming off a victory June 25 in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International after winning April 15 in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
“The momentum is with us,” Hawksworth said. “The team is working well. Ben’s driving is amazing. The crew is clicking and the engineers are clicking. It’s just spot-on.”
Hawksworth was just 0.074 seconds ahead of Jules Gounon, who posted a lap of 1:15.103 in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he drives with Daniel Juncadella. Alex Riberas was third fastest in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 at 1:15.341. The top three qualifiers all bettered last year’s GTD PRO track record of 1:15.468 set by Mathieu Jaminet.
Hawksworth and Barnicoat will go for the No. 14’s 10th consecutive podium finish dating to mid-2022 in Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race.
“It’s such a group effort,” Hawksworth said. “Every weekend we just go out and make it happen. We’ve done well today, but tomorrow is where it counts. We have a big day ahead and we plan on making it happen.”