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IMSA PETIT LE MANS ROAD ATLANTA QUALIFYING ROUND UP

Front Row on Petit Le Mans Grid for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Acura NSX GT3

Defending race winners Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian secured a GTD class front row starting spot on the Petit Le Mans grid when Andy Lally wheeled the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 to second with a fast lap time of 1:20.739-seconds on Friday.

That flying lap was just seven hundredths of a second off of the pole time. Lally will share driving duties through the 10-hour endurance race with Katherine Legge and Mark Wilkins.

“We have a pretty good view of the start tomorrow – but when you have seven-hundredths on the table, you start to think about where you could easily find that snap of the fingers and get yourself on pole!” said Lally following the run. “I know the Michael Shank Racing guys are happy with a front row start, and I know I should be too, but I want to be on the pole. I wanted to get the second pole of the season for all the hard work these guys have done and how good this car is. I know we have a really solid race car and we have since we unloaded off the truck this weekend. All the guys – Dale (Wise), Mike (Shank), all our guys in engineering, Justin (Harnisfager), Darin (Pigg), Dave (Leiter), all the guys have been hustling. I’m sorry I couldn’t put it on the top of the charts for them, but we are starting on the front row for the 20th annual Petit Le Mans tomorrow. Now we just go to bed thinking about race strategy.”

The team showed strength with both Acura entries, as the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 was just three tenths off of the pole-setting time which showed just how competitive the GTD class field is. Ozz Negri, who shares the Acura NSX GT3 machine with Jeff Segal and Tom Dyer qualified the car seventh on the grid with a lap of 1:20.998-seconds.

“We struggled a bit in the first practice and it was hard to find the right balance but we finally seemed to make the right changes,” said Negri. “I’m thrilled to be that close, it shows how deep and competitive the GTD field is. It is a good starting point for the last race of the season.”

Michael Shank Racing won the 2016 edition of the Petit Le Mans last year and would like nothing more than to score an encore victory this year to close out the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

“We just keep digging and keep working to make the NSX a better car,” offered Shank. “Everyone from HPD, Acura and of course all our guys who are a major part of this. We struggled to find the balance but the guys did a great job. Both guys did a great job in qualifying and from first to seventh is just three tenths – so we’re happy with where we are. This is our 14th season together and it’s pretty special.”

The 20th running of the Petit Le Mans will go green at 11:05 AM ET on Saturday

Source. Sunday Group

VISIT FLORIDA Racing Set to Start Fifth for the Motul Petit Le Mans

With the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season coming to a close, the VISIT FLORIDA Racing crew came into the Petit Le Mans weekend bringing the huge momentum from the team’s exhilarating victory in Monterey.

Building on that race winning effort in just the team’s second start with the Ligier, the team scored a fifth-place qualifying result with the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson-Ligier JS P217 in a solid position for the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans.

The first practice session of the weekend saw the No. 90 top the charts with van der Zande posting a fast time of 1:12.650-seconds. The VISIT FLORIDA Racing team was poised for qualifying after the team closed the final practice session in third – just one-tenth off of the front runners.

van der Zande was pleased with his top-five qualifying run and is confident in the car’s ability to sustain a strong pace over the course of the entire 10-hour event.

“We have a long race ahead and P5 is good enough,” said van der Zande. “After the first pit stop the field will be mixed up anyway. I am happy with our performance and I think we are really good over the long run. At the end of the session I wanted a little more out of the lap time but it would have made no difference on the position. In the end we can be happy with where we are.”

Team owner Troy Flis is pleased with the team’s top-five qualifying result and is looking forward to seeing the car come alive over the long run.

“It was a good run for us but we expected to go a little bit quicker,” said Flis. “We were really focusing on making the car a good driving car for the guys over the course of the long race. I am fine with where we qualified and it gives us a good starting position. We had a good car at night last night so I think we will be strong when the sun goes down. We are looking forward to closing out the year with another good result.”

VISIT FLORIDA Racing also welcomed Mazda Motorsports driver, Jonathan Bomarito, who will be sharing driving duties with Marc Goossens and van der Zande. Bomarito melded into the rhythm of the team and was quick to get up to speed. Bomarito looks forward to helping the No. 90 Gibson-powered Ligier JS P217 return to the top of the podium.

“Everything is pretty much going according to plan,” said Bomarito. “It’s definitely a little bit of a transition for me just getting used to a different chassis. It’s a pretty steep learning curve but I am feeling comfortable after the second practice session. The team has been great and it has been a pleasure working with such great people. Marc (Goossens) and Renger (van der Zande) have been a big help as well. The car has been fast so it’s always fun when you know you have a shot at the win.”

Source. Sunday Group

WeatherTech Racing qualifies 16th at Petit Le Mans

WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) will start from the eighth row in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class for Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

This weekend, the WeatherTech Racing team has had a bit of a tough time dialing in just the right set-up on the No. 50 WeatherTech Porsche. To that point, the team made several changes just before today’s 15-minute qualifying session, which included a set-up that none of the three drivers had used during any of the three previous practice sessions.

Heading into qualifying, MacNeil truly did not know exactly how the No. 50 Porsche would perform with this setup. In fact, MacNeil has only turned about 10 laps all weekend. However, following qualifying, he was pleasantly surprised at the car’s performance and he was appreciative for the team’s hard work getting the car up to speed. His fastest qualifying lap was 1:22.177 on his sixth lap around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn undulating road course.

“The guys have been working their butts off,” MacNeil said. “The car was way off coming off the truck. We worked on it really hard. We made some really drastic, large changes before qualifying, which you never like to do because you want to have a car that you’re confident in qualifying with. But, I was confident in the guy’s ability to make the big changes before qualifying. So, we’ve got a pretty good race car now. It’s pretty comfortable, a lot more compliant over the bumps. We’re going to run hard, stay out of trouble tomorrow, and be there at the end.”

Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing

Cadillac DPi-V.R Teams Have Trying Qualifying Run at Petit Le Mans

Cadillac V-Performance racing team Konica Minolta headed the trio of Cadillac Dpi-V.R race cars in qualifying, seventh, for the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Motul Petit Le Mans to run tomorrow at Road Atlanta. The Mustang Sampling Cadillac will start ninth with the Whelen Engineering Cadillac set to take the green in tenth.

In the 20th running of the race founded by Don Panoz, the Konica Minolta Cadillac and Mustang Sampling Cadillac teams and drivers are competing for season ending honors:

– Ricky and Jordan Taylor need to take the green flag start to win the drivers’ championship.
– Cadillac will win manufacturer title with drop of the green flag.
– Mustang Sampling Cadillac and Konica Minolta Cadillac are competing for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC).
– *All championships are contingent on cars passing post-race inspection.

A lack of downforce and engine restrictions on the Cadillac, mandated by IMSA, affected the Cadillac DPi-V.R cars in the 15-minute qualifying session. Ricky Taylor had the wheel of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for the session under near perfect 80°F temperatures. He was able to post a lap time of 1:12.121 good for a fourth row starting position for tomorrow’s 11:05 a.m. ET start. The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R was driven by Christian Fittipaldi in qualifying. He ran a time of 1:12.393 and will start from the fifth row. Eric Curran put in a lap of 1:13.051in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R that will have him going away from the fifth row as well.

Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor are joined by IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay for the season finale. The trio are looking to clinch the drivers championship for the Taylors which can be accomplished by taking the green flag – and passing post-race technical inspection.

“It’s disappointing to know that we have that big of a deficit to the cars that are fast here this weekend,” Ricky Taylor said. “I think it just shows that when you get teams like Penske and Rebellion running these cars it shows what they are capable of on the track. I think you can see by the results that the Cadillac DPi-V.R cars have been really tuned back. But it’s a long race and we can rely on the reliability of the Cadillac and look to our incredible pit stops from the Konica Minolta Cadillac guys and make-up positions with race craft and by not giving up.”

Mustang Sampling drivers Fittipaldi, Barbosa and Albuquerque are in the hunt for the TPNAEC title and are focused on winning that trophy for the team.
“It was a challenging session for us,” Fittipaldi said. “The team gave it their very best. We tried our best and were realistic with our expectations, but we are further back than we thought we might be. But, I think we have a strong car for the race. All of the Cadillac cars are within a row of each other. We have ten hours of racing in front of us tomorrow to get a good result.”

Curran, Cameron and Conway still have some work to do on the set-up of the red Whelen Engineering Cadillac for the race.

“We have been trying a lot of different things on the Whelen Engineering Cadillac,” Curran said. “We were just a little off on the set-up for qualifying. I am not sure what went wrong and I just couldn’t get the speed out of it today. We are going to go back on our set-up and get it back to the practice setting because we were solid with what we had before. I am sure the Whelen guys will have a solution for the warm-up and it will help us through the ten hours.”

So far in 2017 Cadillac V-Performance teams have won the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Long Beach, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Watkins Glen, and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing

Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS to Start Petit Le Mans 13th

Alex Job Racing drivers Bill Sweedler (Westport, Conn.) Townsend Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Frankie Montecalvo (Highland, N.J.) will start the 20th running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans from the seventh row at Road Atlanta tomorrow.

Bell had the wheel of the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS for the 15-minute qualifying session around the 2.5-mile, 12-turn circuit. The driver from California posted a lap of 1:21.648 on his fifth lap of the session. The team has been dialing in the Audi R8 LMS to a very warm track, temperatures at qualifying time were in the mid-80s. The team will take the start at 11:05 a.m. ET from the 13th position on the GTD grid.

“The balance is actually pretty good on the Audi R8 LMS,” Bell said. “We’re happy with the balance we’ve achieve. We’re just slow on the straightaways. We’re a good half a second to six-tenths off and that’s frustrating.

“It was a good call to come in during qualifying [for an air pressure adjustment]. That was planned. I had a better lap going and then there was a Lexus going slow to try to cool off. But, he showed no respect to the cars that were on [flying] laps. In IndyCar, that’s an easy penalty. But, I don’t know what they’ll do here. That’s frustrating because we worked really hard to at least make the best of what we had. It’s just frustrating.”

“We have been trying all week to repeat the set-up we worked to when we tested here in September,” Alex Job, team owner said. “The track conditions just weren’t the same. Frankie, Bill and Townsend have been working hard with the team to get the Audi R8 LMS up the time chart, but we have some more work to do. We will keep working tonight and look to the warm-up for even more improvement.”

Source. Kyle Chura/Alex Job Racing

Garcia Qualifies Points-Leading No. 3 Corvette Second in GTLM

Corvette Racing’s pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs are in solid position for Saturday’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans following IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta. Antonio Garcia qualified the GT Le Mans-championship leading No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R second in class with teammate Tommy Milner just 0.109 seconds further back.

Garcia needs only to take the green flag Saturday to assure the GTLM Driver’s Championship for he and teammate Jan Magnussen. Starting the race also assures the No. 3 Corvette squad the GTLM Team’s Championship.

If Saturday’s race results mirror the qualifying order, Chevrolet also will win the GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship for the 12th time. Either of the Corvettes can score second-place Manufacturer’s points after 10 hours to clinch.

Chevrolet and Corvette Racing also swept the GTLM championships a year ago.

Garcia qualified the No. 3 Corvette, which he will share with Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller, with a lap of 1:71.714 (117.662 mph). Garcia was only 0.054 seconds from pole position. The Garcia/Magnussen/Rockenfeller lineup won earlier this year at Sebring – one of three victories for the No. 3 Corvette this season.

Milner’s best time in the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R was a 1:17.823 (117.497 mph) to qualify fifth. He will share duties with Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fässler; the trio finished third in class at last year’s Petit Le Mans.

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED SECOND IN GTLM:“That’s the best qualifying effort we’ve had all year… it’s so close. Qualifying was like a repeat of the last practice. The pole lap time was probably there in our Corvette. It would have been good to be on pole and been a nice headline going into the last race of the season. But our result was good. We are competitive. It’s a good starting point for us. We’ll hope for a good result in the race.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED FIFTH IN GTLM: “It’s a little bit disappointing; we’ve been top-three all weekend, and when it does matter a little bit we’re down in sixth. But we can’t be too unhappy. The pace of our Corvette has been good all weekend. We weren’t far off at all in qualifying. The race is what matters here. I’m really happy with the pace of the car all weekend. We want to finish off the year with a good, strong result in the No. 4 car. If we do that, it plays right into our hand with what is most important and that’s the Manufacturer’s Championship for Chevrolet. Certainly that’s the No. 1 priority. We’ll do whatever we can for that good finish and be on our game.”

Source. Corvette Racing

Difficult qualifying for the Porsche 911 RSR at Road Atlanta

Petit Le Mans on the tradition-steeped Road Atlanta racetrack promises to be a fierce finale to the IMSA SportsCar Championship season: In the qualifying session for Saturday’s ten-hour race in the US state of Georgia, the fastest eight in the GTLM class were separated by just five-tenths of a second. Never before this season has the fight for pole position been so close. The best Porsche 911 RSR shared by Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) clocked the eighth quickest time. Patrick Pilet (France) planted the sister 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team on the ninth grid spot. For the race, he shares the cockpit with Dirk Werner (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain).

Petit Le Mans also marks the last race in the prestigious North American Endurance Cup, which also includes the long-distance classics of Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen. In this competition Porsche leads the drivers’ classification with Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner. Heading into the decisive race on the 4.087-kilometre Road Atlanta circuit, the Porsche GT Team ranks first in the team classification. At this toughest performance and reliability competition in GT racing worldwide, points are not only awarded for the final result, but also at intervals. At the Petit Le Mans event, for instance, points are allocated after four and eight hours. Porsche won the North American Endurance Cup in 2014.

Qualifying quotes
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “We’re obviously not happy with this qualifying result. But still, our #912 car is only five-tenths of a second off the pole-sitter. This shows just how competitive the GTLM class is. Along with the many fans, we’re looking forward to an exciting and close final race of the season with plenty of fights for positions and changes at the lead. We’re focussing fully on the race and we’re confident that we’ll look significantly better over the distance.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “That was a difficult qualifying. However, during the long runs our 911 RSR ran well and this makes me optimistic for the race. We have to try to work our way up the field as far as possible by the end of the first stint and look after our tyres. Then anything’s possible.”
Gianmaria Bruni (911 RSR #912): “That wasn’t our best qualifying of the season. We tried various things to make the most of it, but unfortunately it didn’t work out as we’d hoped. Still, I’m looking forward to the race with Earl and Laurens. I’m sure that we’ll be strong enough to give our rivals a good fight for the lead spots.”

The ten-hour race takes off on Saturday, 7 October, at 11.05 hrs local time (17.05 hrs CEST). Outside the USA, the race is broadcast live on http://www.imsa.com.

Qualifying result
GTLM class
1. Fisichella/Vilander/Pier Guidi (I/SF/I)), Ferrari 488 GTE, 1:17.660 minutes
2. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZ), Ford GT, + 0.045 seconds
3. Garcia/Magnussen/Rockenfeller (E/DK/D), Corvette, + 0.054
4. Auberlen/Sims/Wittmer (USA/GB/CAN), BMW M6, + 0.069
5. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, + 0.071
6. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Corvette, + 0.163
7. Edwards/Tomczyk/Catsburg (USA/D/NL), BMW M6, + 0.424
8. Vanthoor/Bruni/Bamber (B/I/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.501
9. Pilet/Werner/Tandy (F/GB/D), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.766

GTD class
1. Nielsen/Balzan/Cressoni (DK/I/I), Ferrari 488 GT3, 1:20.661 minutes
2. Lally/Legge/Wilkins (USA/GB/CAN), Acura NSX, + 0.078 seconds
3. Hawksworth/Pruett/Cindric (GB/USA/USA), Lwexus GT3, + 0.137
6. Morad/Christensen/de Quesada (USA/DK/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.307
12. Bergmeister/Lindsey/McMurry (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.809
16. MacNeil/Jeannette/Long (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.516
17. Braun/Bennett/Jonsson (USA/USA/S), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 2.718

Source. Porsche

Action Express Racing Ready to Race at Road Atlanta

Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans marks the 20th edition of the fabled finale IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event as the ultra-quick 2.54-mile circuit plays host to the final segment of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship (TPNAEC). The 10-hour race will once again feature a deep field of racers as four classes take to the track in pursuit of one final triumph on the season.

On the strength of three podium results including a victory at Watkins Glen International earlier this season, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R of Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa, and Filipe Albuquerque currently holds the TPNAEC lead ahead of Saturday’s 10 hour race. The trio, who were recently announced as the 2018 driver line up as the team builds continuity, will look to bring the No. 5 entry a fourth consecutive TPNAEC title with a strong run on Saturday.

Fittipaldi will open the race from behind the wheel after setting a fast lap time of 1:12.393-seconds to secure ninth on the 42-car field.

“It was a challenging session for us,” Fittipaldi said. “The team gave it their very best. We tried our best and were realistic with our expectations but we are further back than we thought we might be. But I think we have a strong car for the race. All of the Cadillac cars are within a row of each other. We have 10 hours of racing in front of us tomorrow to get a good result.”

Mike Conway has returned to the team this weekend to partner with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. The three racers scored a podium finish earlier this season with a run to third at Sebring International Raceway and will look to return to the post-race celebrations again on Saturday night.

Curran will start the race from the fifth row in the Whelen Engineering entry after posting a quick time of 1:13.051-seconds in Friday’s qualifying session.

“We have been trying a lot of different things on the Whelen Cadillac,” Curran said. “We were just a little off on the set-up for qualifying. I am not sure what went wrong and I just couldn’t get the speed out of it today. We are going to go back on our set-up and get it back to the practice set-up because we were solid with what we had before. I am sure the Whelen guys will have a solution for the warm-up and it will help us through the 10 hours.”

In addition to the practice and qualifying sessions, the day featured an autograph session as well as a special presentation as Dane Cameron gave Sonny Whelen his IMSA Championship helmet in thanks for the opportunity that he provided the young American racer at Whelen Engineering Racing.

Source. Sunday Group

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