Richard Westbrook drove to the front of the GTLM pack in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar qualifying at VIR Saturday, after Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla did the same in GTE Pro qualifying at Silverstone (FIA World Endurance Championship).
It’s Ford CGR’s second-consecutive IMSA pole and second in a row at VIR. The No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller starts sixth.
“It hasn’t been a great track for me, but big thanks to all the guys on the team,” said Westbrook, who drove the No. 67 Ford GT he shares with Ryan Briscoe to a 1:55.580 lap. “They’ve really built my confidence here. I felt really good all weekend in the dry, then it obviously rained for qualifying, which threw a spanner in the works. I usually like the rain, but I’ve never driven here in the wet, as I’m sure most people haven’t. The car felt really good. We didn’t panic, so we didn’t go out immediately, so we had good tires at the end and when it counted.”
Just before GTLM qualifying, heat and full sun gave way to heavy rain, forcing all teams to take a second look at their strategies. Some chose to make laps immediately, while others waited.
“Good job to the No. 67 car,” Hand said. “Westy (Westbrook) had a good lap. I think we had something similar. You never know. We just went out a little earlier and were surprised there was no wetness from (turns) six to 14. A lot of the fast corners are in that area, so we just went through to see what we could get out of it before the track got too dry. You never know. Rain is tricky, especially when it’s drying. It’s all about timing at that point. I think we got the checkered flag with about two seconds to go. We could have used that one last lap.”
Ford CGR hopes to break through at VIR for a fifth IMSA win in a row. The No. 67 led the championship points going into this weekend’s race. The No. 66 was third, just nine points behind their teammates. Ford has a 14-point lead on its closest competitor in the Manufacturers standings.