Petit Le Mans IMSA: Blomqvist, MSR claim pole for Acura

Petit Le Mans IMSA: Blomqvist, MSR claim pole for Acura

Kamui Kobayashi ducked under 70sec first with a 69.685sec lap in Action Express Racing’s second Ally Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, before championship leader Ricky Taylor moved to the top with a 68.999sec effort in the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura.

Blomqvist responded in the MSR Acura with a 68.734, 0.232sec faster than Taylor’s next effort of 68.966sec, and Blomqvist trimmed this to 68.683sec, then 68.555sec.

Taylor then hurt his efforts with an off at Turn 5, and would pit while lying third. The second driver who had usurped him was Bamber in the #02 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, albeit 0.233sec behind Blomqvist who pitted.

The two AXR cars of Kobayashi and Derani pitted early, while the Ganassi Cadillacs of Bamber and Sebastien Bourdais kept pounding around to the end. Neither could improve, however, so will line up second and fifth, with Taylor and Tristan Vautier’s JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac between them.

Blomqvist’s pole ensured that Acura has beaten Cadillac to the Manufacturers’ championship, and also means that whichever Acura driver pairing finishes ahead in tomorrow’s 10-hour race, out of MSR and WTR, has won the drivers’ championship.

In LMP2, Steven Thomas produced a fantastic lap to claim pole for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports but Dennis Andersen of High Class Racing was a mere 0.082sec away.

The second PR1/M car of Ben Keating was a further three-tenths down, and just ahead of John Farano of Tower Motorsports.

Despite there being just eight LMP3 cars, they got the track to themselves, and the battle swiftly became a duel between Malthe Jakobsen of Sean Creech Motorsport and Kay van Berlo of Riley Motorsports.

Their battle got interrupted by two simultaneous incidents which brought out the red flag. Dan Goldburg spun the Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier at Turn 6, and Anthony Mantella dropped the AWA Duqueine at Turn 7.

When action resumed, van Berlo clipped over three-tenths from his fastest time to jump 0.06sec ahead of Jakobsen, then stretched that advantage to 0.204sec. Jakobsen would eventually come up just 0.108sec short.

This fight left their rivals gasping in comparison, Jarett Andretti finishing up third, 1.5sec off the ultimate pace but almost 0.8sec ahead of Orey Fidani of AWA.

With GTD Pro and GTD cars on track simultaneously – 22 cars in 2.254 miles – the track was busy from the start, and it was defending Petit Le Mans polesitter Madison Snow in the Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 who first snuck under the 80sec barrier with a 1min19.501sec.

He was initially chased by Roman De Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage and Jaden Conwright’s NTE/SSR Lamborghini Huracan.

Snow then lowered his time to 79.211sec and then the GTD Pro drivers started to shine. Alex Riberas moved to the top in the all-pro HoR Aston with 79.043sec, and Jack Hawksworth snatched second in the Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F.

Riberas then pitted the #23 Vantage, eager to preserve the set of tires on which he’ll have to start the 10-hour race tomorrow. The downside of such prudence was that he saw his time beaten by Hawksworth, first by a mere 0.033sec, then by two-tenths, as Hawksworth became the only driver to breach the 79sec barrier, taking GTD Pro pole with a 78.835sec.

James Calado’s Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 turned a 69.266sec lap – third fastest in GTD Pro, fourth overall – before pitting, with Jesse Krohn fourth in class in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW M4, ahead of Antonio Garcia’s Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.

Snow trimmed a further tenth from his time to confirm GTD pole – 0.16sec ahead of Krohn’s works BMW, and 0.388sec quicker than nearest GTD competitor, Robert Megennis in the Carbahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracan. In fact it was a strong session for Lamborghini, Megennis qualifying 0.016sec faster than Conwright’s similar car.

De Angelis wound up fourth in class, ninth in GT, 0.014sec ahead of Richard Heistand in the pro-am VSR Lexus.

Petit Le Mans – qualifying results:

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