Westbrook Earns Petit LeMans Pole In Wet
|Westbrook in the rain|
|Richard Dole/LAT for IMSA|
As you look at the Friday qualifying times for the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda 10-hour endurance race on Saturday, don't expect to be immediately impressed by the speeds. Rain, shifting back and forth between "light" and "drizzle" never stopped long enough to establish any sort of dry line.
But looking at the water running across the Road Atlanta track in some places, and standing water in others, it's impressive that the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship drivers managed to log the times they did.
Example of the track conditions: Earl Bamber, driver of the No. 912 Porsche North America 911 RSR, qualified on the pole in GT Le Mans (GTLM) with a lap of 1 minute, 30.304 seconds. But the GTLM qualifying session was shortened by more than half due to a bad crash – by Bamber, who lost control of his car when he aquaplaned at turn 4 and crashed hard into a tire wall. It will be a very long night for his mechanics, as the damage appears fairly extensive, especially at the right rear.
Bamber's teammate Nick Tandy was a close second in GTLM, with Oliver Gavin third in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. Worth noting is that Bamber's fastest lap was actually 1:30.074, but by causing the red flag, IMSA penalized Bamber his fastest lap, but his second-fastest lap of 1:30.304 was more than enough for the GTLM pole.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Well, so it appeared. The damage turned out to be so severe that the team had to make a chassis change, meaning the No. 912 – while still considered the pole winner – will start at the rear. But he won't be alone: Teammate Tandy's No. 911 failed post-qualifying inspection – the ride height was improper – moving that car to the back, too. Starting from the GTLM pole, then, is the third-place qualifier, the No. 4 Corvette C7.R. And moving up beside the Corvette is the No. 24 BMW Z4 GTE.
In Prototype, Richard Westbrook was by far the quickest in the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP, with a lap of 1:27.860, followed by the No. 5 Action Express Corvette at 1:28.920, and the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 01 Ford Ecoboost Riley at 1:29.627.
In GT Daytona (GTD), part-timer Cameron Lawrence was the surprise top qualifier with a lap of 1:38.295 in the No. 93 Dodge Viper GT3-R, a team car to the No. 33 ViperExchange.com fielded by Ben Keating. The No. 93 is running only the four long endurance races – Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta – competing for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup honors, which the team presently leads.
Lawrence edged out home-towner Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 73 Park Place Porsche 911 GT America, who was about a half-second behind Lawrence. Lawrence said he went for it on his last lap, "Braking deeper than I had before, and I was lucky it worked out."
In Prototype Challenge, Tom Kimber-Smith put the PR1/Mathiasen No. 52 on the class pole with a lap of 132.378. They'll start sixth on the Prototype grid, just ahead of the No. 16 BAR1 car qualified by Johnny Mowlem.
|Earl Bamber fastest in Porsche GTLM|
|Richard Dole/LAT for IMSA|
Saturday's race will decide the championships in all four classes. Again, it's expected to be wet, similar to the six-hour race during the summer at Watkins Glen. Earl Bamber said that while Road Atlanta drains well, "It's just that they've had so much steady rain here that the ground can't absorb any more water." There's a 70 percent chance of rain Saturday, 80 percent for Saturday night.
One of the few drivers who seemed happy with the rain setup was Westbrook.
"The car was fantastic," he said. "But I was on the edge. There was talk of cancelling qualifying, and since we were the points leaders we'd be on the pole anyway, but we're all racers, and I'm glad we got the chance to put it there properly."
Both Bamber and Westbrook agreed that Saturday's race could be less treacherous if there are few yellow flags, as more than 30 cars on the track at once helps keep the line a bit drier. Caution periods, though, allow the water to drain back on the track. "I'm afraid cautions might cause more cautions if that happens," said Westbrook.
In all, 32 cars took at least one lap of qualifying, with five cars sitting it out.
Saturday begins with a 20-minute TUDOR Championship warm-up at 9 a.m. Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, Round 12 of the TUDOR Championship, takes the green flag at 11:10 a.m. FOX Sports 2 coverage airs from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET, followed by IMSA.com from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET.
FOX Sports 2 resumes coverage from 2:30 to 7 p.m. before going back to IMSA.com from 7 to 8:30 p.m. ET. Live television coverage of the conclusion airs from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2. IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile app will have live streaming, live timing and scoring, and IMSA Radio's play-by-play. Sunday, there will be a three-hour Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda highlights show beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
|1||P||R.Westbrook, M.Valiante, M.Rockenfeller||visitflorida.com Racing||Corvette/Chevrolet||1m27.860s||0.000s|
|2||P||J.Barbosa, C.Fittipaldi, S.Bourdais||Action Express Racing||Corvette/Chevrolet||1m28.920s||1.060s|
|3||P||J.Hand, S.Pruett, S.Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates||Riley/Ford||1m29.627s||1.767s|
|4||GTLM||J.Bergmeister, E.Bamber, F.Makowiecki||Porsche North America||Porsche||1m30.304s||2.444s|
|5||GTLM||N.Tandy, P.Pilet, R.Lietz||Porsche North America||Porsche||1m30.398s||2.538s|
|6||P||R.Taylor, J.Taylor, M.Angelelli||Wayne Taylor Racing||Corvette/Chevrolet||1m30.621s||2.761s|
|7||P||E.Curran, D.Cameron, M.Papis||Action Express Racing||Corvette/Chevrolet||1m30.884s||3.024s|
|8||GTLM||O.Gavin, T.Milner||Corvette Racing||Chevrolet||1m31.685s||3.825s|
|9||GTLM||J.M.Edwards, L.Luhr, J.Klingmann||BMW Team RLL||BMW||1m31.763s||3.903s|
|10||PC||M.Guasch, T.K.-Smith, A.Palmer||PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m32.378s||4.518s|
|11||PC||M.Drumwright, T.Drissi, D.Yount, J.Mowlem||BAR1 Motorsports||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m32.924s||5.064s|
|12||GTLM||P.Kaffer, G.Fisichella, T.Vilander||Risi Competizione||Ferrari||1m32.989s||5.129s|
|13||GTLM||B.Auberlen, D.Werner, A.Farfus||BMW Team RLL||BMW||1m33.680s||5.820s|
|14||GTLM||J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, R.Briscoe||Corvette Racing||Chevrolet||1m33.773s||5.913s|
|15||PC||A.Popow, S.Mayer, S.Rayhall, J.Falb||Starworks Motorsport||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m33.903s||6.043s|
|16||PC||B.Junqueira, C.Cumming, G.Menezes, J.Hawksworth||RSR Racing||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m35.825s||7.965s|
|17||PC||M.Goikhberg, C.Miller, R.Mitchell||JDC/Miller Motorsports||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m36.838s||8.978s|
|18||PC||R.van der Zande, M.Hedlund, M.Schultis, A.Popow||Starworks Motorsport||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m38.120s||10.260s|
|19||GTD||A.Carter, M.Goossens, C.Lawrence||Riley Motorsports||Dodge||1m38.295s||10.435s|
|20||GTD||P.Lindsey, S.Pumpelly, M.Snow||Park Place Motorsports||Porsche||1m38.886s||11.026s|
|21||GTD||C.MacNeil, L.Keen, A.Davis||Alex Job Racing||Porsche||1m38.899s||11.039s|
|22||P||M.Rojas, K.Legge, A.Meyrick||Claro / TracFone DeltaWing Racing||DeltaWing/Elan||1m39.618s||11.758s|
|23||GTD||G.Cosmo, R.Thorne, C.Thompson||Flying Lizard Motorsports||Audi||1m41.604s||13.744s|
|24||GTD||B.Keating, S.Bleekemolen, J.Bleekemolen||Riley Motorsports||Dodge||1m41.698s||13.838s|
|25||GTD||B.Sweedler, T.Bell, J.Segal||Scuderia Corsa||Ferrari||1m41.750s||13.890s|
|26||GTD||J.Westphal, D.Serra, M.Cressoni||Scuderia Corsa||Ferrari||1m42.627s||14.767s|
|27||PC||J.Bennett, C.Braun, A.Lazzaro||CORE Autosport||ORECA/Chevrolet||1m42.775s||14.915s|
|28||GTD||C.Nielsen, K.Wittmer, B.Davis||TRG-AMR||Aston Martin||1m42.911s||15.051s|
|29||GTD||C.Haase, D.von Moltke, B.Miller||Paul Miller Racing||Audi||1m43.620s||15.760s|
|30||GTD||I.James, M.Farnbacher, A.Riberas||Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing||Porsche||1m44.320s||16.460s|
|31||GTD||J.Potter, A.Lally, R.Renauer||Magnus Racing||Porsche||1m47.000s||19.140s|
|32||GTLM||B.Sellers, W.Henzler, P.Long||Team Falken Tire||Porsche||–||–|
|34||PC||J.French, J.Mee, C.Daly||Performance Tech Motorsports||ORECA/Chevrolet||–||–|
|35||P||J.Pew, O.Negri, M.McMurry||Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian||Ligier/HPD||–||–|
|36||P||T.Nunez, J.Bomarito, S.Tremblay||Mazda Motorsports||Mazda||–||–|
|37||GTD||M.Marsal, M.Palttala, A.Priaulx, B.Johnson||Turner Motorsport||BMW||–||–|
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