AUSTIN, TEXAS – official release — Ted Rossino Jr. photo — Alex Brundle put the Ligier chassis from OAK Racing on the pole for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Circuit of The Americas in the car’s first race under Honda power.
“We knew the chassis, but we didn’t know the engine,” said Brundle, who was 0.834 seconds ahead of the Ricky Taylor’s Corvette DP. “We didn’t know how it would work in terms of setting up the electronics, the balance of the car and the turbo lag.”
After a day of occasional rain, conditions were dry for qualifying. Brundle said the team worked very quickly through the adaption of the twin turbo Honda engine during practice with few of the usual teething problems to get his second pole in the TUDOR Championship. He will lead a field of 51 cars in Saturday’s two hour, 45-minute race.
Memo Rojas took third on the grid in the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP. He was followed by Christian Fittipaldi in the Corvette DP of Action Express Racing. Fittipaldi and co-driver Joao Barbosa enter the season’s penultimate race with a 16-point lead over Taylor and his brother Jordan, who drive for father Wayne Taylor.
Action Express’s manager Gary Nelson said his team will not be racing just for points. “We’ll try to win the race, because that’s what we’ve been doing all season,” said Nelson. “We will calculate the risk in some situations a little more carefully.”
For Brundle and teammate Gustavo Yacaman, the goal will be to redeem a missed opportunity at Watkins Glen International this summer. After starting on the pole and leading 22 laps, Brundle lost the lead on a late-race restart, leaving OAK Racing still in pursuit of its first victory.
“Winning the race is the next step for our team,” said Bundle of the Le Mans-based outfit that previously used an open-top Morgan chassis with normally aspirated Nissan power.
In the Prototype Challenge class, Sean Rayhall captured the pole, a half second clear of runner-up Colin Braun. Leading by 40 points, Braun and co-driver Jon Bennett have an opportunity to close out their championship bid before the season-ending Petit Le Mans.
In the GTLM class, the Porsche 911 RSR chassis driven by Patrick Pilet won the pole by 0.237 seconds over the Dodge Viper SRT of Jonathan Bomarito, but failed post-qualifying inspection after IMSA officials found the car was missing a required camera pod.
Bomarito and co-driver Kuno Wittmer inherited the pole position and are looking to overtake Corvette Racing driver Antonio Garcia in the chase for the driver’s championship, who leads by six points. Garcia’s Corvette was qualified eighth in class by co-driver Jan Magnussen, 0.545 seconds from the pole and 0.308 seconds behind the Viper SRT of Bomarito.
In GTD, James Davison earned a third straight pole for TRG-AMR in his No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Of the five drivers tied for the lead in the championship, Dane Cameron qualified best. He will start his Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 third, well ahead of the Ferrari 458 Italia of Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell (15th in class) and the Porsche 911 GT America of Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil (16th).