BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – official release — Richard Dole/LAT photo — After finishing third at Detroit and second at Watkins Glen Int’l in the two most recent TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races, OAK Racing came to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park looking to step up to the top of the victory podium.
After leading both of Friday’s practice rounds, Gustavo Yacaman took another giant step toward achieving that goal on Saturday, running a lap of 1:09.167 (127.986 mph) to give the team its second consecutive TOTAL Pole Award in Prototype qualifying for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance.
Alex Brundle gave the No. 42 Morgan/Nissan its first pole in qualifying at Watkins Glen Int’l. Olivier Pla is co-driving with Yacaman this weekend.
“Of course, our goal is to win,” Yacaman said. “We’re a race-winning team, and we haven’t won yet. Hopefully, everything will go our way tomorrow. There are many variables in motorsports, and everything has to go your way in order to win.”
Based in Le Mans, France, OAK Racing is competing in the United States on a full-time basis for the first time in 2014 after winning the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 title in 2013.
“Here it is very important to be on the pole,” Yacaman said. “We definitely have an aero(dynamic) advantage, but we have a big power disadvantage. It’s going to be a matter of managing traffic, which is very difficult at this track with the massive speed difference in the high-speed corners.”
Ryan Dalziel qualified on the outside of the front row with a lap of 1:09.456 (127.453 mph) on the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit in the Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda co-driven by Scott Sharp. Qualifying third was Richard Westbrook, who joined Michael Valiante in winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen two weeks ago. He ran a lap of 1:09.642 (127.113 mph) in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP.
Both the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette DP of Boris Said and Eric Curran, and the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC-13 of Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick were withdrawn from the event after the cars were damaged in separate incidents late in Friday afternoon practice.
Shifting gears, the combination of Canadian driver Kuno Wittmer and the Dodge Viper GTS-R proved to be too much for the competition in GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifying.
One year after Jonathan Bomarito drove the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R to the marque’s first pole in more than a decade in an American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón event at the track, Wittmer put the No. 93 car back at the top of the grid for Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance (FOX Sports 1, live at 2 p.m. ET). Wittmer turned a best lap of one minute, 15.206 seconds (117.709 mph).
It was the first career pole for the Montreal native at a track near and dear to his heart.
“It’s still giving me some goose bumps,” he said. “If you look back, the first time I ran around this track I was 16 years old. Personally this is a big achievement and it’s a dream come true.”
To earn the pole, Wittmer had to beat out the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R that has won the last three TUDOR Championship races. That car, qualified by Antonio Garcia and co-driven by Jan Magnussen, fell just 0.072 seconds short of the pole with a lap of 1:15.278 (117.596 mph). Rounding out the top three was Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR co-driven by Bryan Sellers at 1:15.368 (117.456 mph).
The top five were separated by a mere 0.291 seconds.
“It just shows how tight the competition is in this class and I think definitely tomorrow we’ll see a repeat of that,” said Wittmer. “I believe we have a little bit of an edge here. We need to go into tomorrow with a proper plan. It’s far from being won, but I know our team is very, very strong with strategies and I know we’ll do something really nice tomorrow.”