TUSC: Westbrook Sloshes to Petit Le Mans Pole; Tops Soggy Qualifying Session at Road Atlanta

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Road Racing, Southeast, WeatherTech 0 Comments

BRASELTON, Ga. – official series release — Jake Galstad/LAT for IMSA photo —

Watching steady rain fall throughout the day Friday at Road Atlanta, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype (P) points leader Richard Westbrook knew that his No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP would start on the pole for Saturday’s season-ending Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda if qualifying was cancelled due to the weather at Road Atlanta.

When the decision was made to hold the session, Westbrook won the pole the hard way, running a lap of 1:27.860 (104.075 mph) to capture his first TOTAL Pole Award of the season.

Westbrook and regular co-driver Michael Valiante – who will be joined by Mike Rockenfeller for the 10-hour race – enter the finale with a six-point lead over the two Action Express Racing cars. Christian Fittipaldi qualified second at 1:28.920 (102.834 mph) in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP co-driven by Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais, while Dane Cameron timed in fifth fastest in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP co-driven by Eric Curran and Max Papis.

Joey Hand, who joined Scott Pruett in winning the most recent TUDOR Championship race at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, qualified third in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley with a lap of 1:29.627 (102.023 mph). IndyCar champion Scott Dixon will join the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team this weekend.

The 15-minute session went right down to the wire, with Ricky Taylor nearly losing control of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP on his final lap. He qualified fourth, running 1:30.621 (100.904 mph) in the car he will co-drive with Max Angelelli and his brother Jordan in a bid to give Wayne Taylor Racing its second consecutive victory in the event.

Keeping PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ slim championship hopes alive, Tom Kimber-Smith held off Johnny Mowlem to capture his first TOTAL Pole Award of the season in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class.

Kimber-Smith ran a lap of 1:32.378 (98.985 mph) in the No. 52 Cuttwood/Spyder ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Mike Guasch and Andrew Palmer.

Mowlem was second, running 1:32.924 (98.403 mph) in the No. 16 BAR1 Motorsports Southwest Realty Advisors/The Walk/Top 1 Oil entry co-driven by Mark Drumwright, Tomy Drissi and Don Yount.

To say the GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifying session was unusual would be an understatement. The 15-minute session for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta saw multiple on-track incidents, penalties and failed post-session inspections.

While Earl Bamber posted the fastest time of the qualifying session, he lost control of his No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR with a few minutes remaining, going off course in turn five and bringing out the red flag to stop the session. Per IMSA rules, the red flag wiped away his fastest time of 1:30.074.

Thankfully for Bamber, his second fastest time of 1:30.304 (101.258 mph) was enough to keep him on the pole. However, due to chassis damage sustained in the incident, the team went to a backup car, and the new No. 912 Porsche also co-driven by Joerg Bergmeister and Frederic Makowiecki will start at the back of the GT grid.

Bamber’s Porsche North America teammate Nick Tandy initially qualified second in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR co-driven by Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz with a time of 1:30.398 (101.153 mph), but failed post-qualifying inspection due to a ride-height infraction. He also will start from the back of the GT grid.

Qualifying third with a best lap of 1:31.685 (99.733 mph) was Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin. Gavin will begin Saturday’s race at the front of the GT grid with co-drivers Tommy Milner and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.

Two-time defending Petit Le Mans winners Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler will start near the back of the GT grid with co-driver Patrick Long in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR after an incident in Turn 12 three minutes into the session prevented them from setting a qualifying time.

Riley Motorsports driver Cameron Lawrence swiped the GT Daytona (GTD) TOTAL Pole Award away from second-place qualifier Spencer Pumpelly on the final lap of Friday’s qualifying session, posting a best lap of 1:38.295 (93.026 mph).

Lawrence, who co-drives the No. 93 TI Automotive/Viper Exchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R with Marc Goossens and Al Carter, has won two of the three races Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup events they’ve competed in this year, winning most recently at the Six Hours of The Glen.

Qualifying the No. 73 Park Place Porsche/UiS Porsche 911 GT America second with a time of 1:38.886 (92.470 mph) was Pumpelly, who co-drives the Park Place Porsche entry with Patrick Lindsey. This would have been the team’s second pole of the season, after Lindsey captured the TOTAL Pole Award in August at Road America.

Third in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT America with a time of 1:38.889 (92.458 mph) was Leh Keen, just .013 of a second behind Pumpelly. Keen, who is an Atlanta, Georgia native, will share the Alex Job Racing entry with regular co-driver Cooper MacNeil and fellow Georgian Andrew Davis. Earlier in the day, Davis won the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship in the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R with co-driver Robin Liddell.

CREDIT: IMSA Communications

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