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IMSA PETIT LE MANS QUALIFYING ROUND UP

BMW M8 GTE Scores GTLM Pole for Motul Petit Le Mans

John Edwards will start the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale, Motul Petit Le Mans, from the GTLM class pole position. Driving the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE to a 1:17.006 minute lap around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit, Edwards recorded his second pole of the 2018 season and will lead the 9-car GTLM class to the green flag tomorrow. Edwards will share the No. 24 machine with season-long co-driver Jesse Krohn and Australian Supercars Championship regular Chaz Mostert, who will be driving in his first race for BMW Team RLL.

Connor De Phillippi qualified the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE only .422 seconds behind his teammate (1:17.428 minutes) and will start from the seventh position, the entire GTLM class separated by a scant .768 seconds. De Phillippi and co-driver Alexander Sims have won the last two IMSA races at Virginia International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. They will be joined by BMW ace Bill Auberlen who will be making his 410th start in a BMW racing car. Auberlen, Sims and Kuno Wittmer won last year’s Petit Le Mans race in a BMW M6 GTLM.

“A nice way to start for sure” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We tested down here earlier in the year and the test went pretty well. The GTLM class is so, so tight and this is a tough race so where we start doesn’t make the biggest difference but it’s nice to be on pole. It gives everyone a nice mindset to start the race from. I don’t know if we’re 100% happy with the car so far, but we have a good base to work from.”

John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE (P1): “I definitely can’t set that kind of lap on my own, so a huge thanks to the team for giving me a solid car. I think our qualifying set up and tire choice was pretty aggressive. The M8 and I were on the edge, so I definitely had to manage that, but it was quick. I don’t think we’ll be driving like that for ten hours but during night practice we had some fast consistent long runs, so I think during the race we can settle into a nice stable car and pace. I think we’ll be pretty strong tomorrow and now it all comes down to execution.”

Connor de Phillippi, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE (P7): “We made some improvements heading into qualifying. I think we definitely had a car capable of being in the top-three.  I made a small mistake on my fast lap and with how tight GTLM is you can’t do that. I just need to focus and analyze that, but moving into tomorrow I know we have great race pace and we’ll give everyone heck for ten hours.”

Source. BMW

WeatherTech Racing to Start on Pole at Petit Le Mans

Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Ut.) and Daniel Serra (Brazil) will start the season finale IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans from pole on the GTD grid tomorrow.

Serra had the wheel of the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari for the 15-minute qualifying session around the 2.5-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta track located an hour north of Atlanta. The Scuderia Corsa team had the car up to fourth in last nights practice session. The Brazilian was able to post a time of 1:19.695 in qualifying which bested the field for the GTD Class pole.

Serra get pole in WeatherTech Ferrari.
“This is one of the best tracks,” Serra said. “I really like running here, the last time I raced here was in 2016 with Scuderia Corsa. You really need to have confidence in the car. The first part of the circuit is really on the edge, one mistake and you could be out. The WeatherTech Ferrari is really good, it works well here. In four races I have done, I have three pole positions on different tracks with the Ferrari. Now us drivers have to do our jobs in the race.”

MacNeil is currently fourth in the GTD driver’s points standings. The team is keen to get him to Sunday’s IMSA Night of Champions banquet to take third place honors. It will take 10-hours of competitive driving once the green falls tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. ET.

“We have been trying a lot of different set-up things this weekend,” MacNeil said. “It looks like we have the WeatherTech Ferrari right and Daniel put it on the pole. He had a great lap. Obviously, it is ten hours of racing, but we are starting up front. We will be pushing hard for the win tomorrow.”

“We have a good car for a short run,” Jeannette said. “We have had the tires falling off in short runs, so we have been focusing on the long run set-up of the WeatherTech Ferrari to maximize our tires. Hopefully it works out, we have a good day tomorrow and have our black and white Ferrari on the podium.”

Source. Kyle Cura/WeatherTech Racing

Meyer Shank Racing on Second and Third Rows for Motul Petit Le Mans

The final event of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season has brought Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) to Road Atlanta for the Motul Petit Le Mans finale event where the team qualified on the second and third rows for the 10 hour endurance classic.

Returning with its dual Acura NSX GT3 line up, MSR was ready to attack the race weekend. The No. 93 MSR Acura NSX GT3 had promising practice pace with Lawson Aschenbach, Justin Marks and Mario Farnbacher wheeling the team car. Farnbacher took the wheel for qualifying and was able to maximize the performance of his Continental Tires to bring home a fourth-place starting position, posting a 1:19.877-second lap, just two-tenths off of the pole.

“The handling of the car during qualifying really has nothing to do with the handling of the car in the race,” explained Farnbacher. “I’m happy with qualifying, it’s just really tough to put one complete lap together. The Continental Tires have such a small window where you can really use the tire and not slide, and to be in that window and get it all right is tough. In the end, you need to find the balance, so you have a car that is good until the end of the stint and doesn’t lose so much over the time of the stint either. It’s a good position to start because it’s hard to overtake here but the starting position has little to do with your race. I have a positive mindset about it!”

With the GTD championship within arm’s reach, just 6-points behind the leading Lamborghini, the No. 86 MSR Acura NSX GT3 of Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente and Trent Hindman made progress early on in the weekend during Thursday’s practice. The team focused on finding a consistent balance during practice, something that will be integral in the 10 hour race. With Parente set for qualifying duties, finding the optimal window was difficult as he brought home a sixth place starting position, posting a 1:20.095-second lap.

“Hopefully we did a good job preparing the car so there is not too much tire degradation during the stint,” said Parente. “It’s a long race where anything can happen so we just need to be smart. My goal is have a clean start and hand over a good car to Katherine (Legge) and Trent (Hindman) so we are in the best spot possible for the championship. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow!”

In addition to the team’s final weekend of racing this season, Meyer Shank Racing made a groundbreaking team announcement on Friday. The team will enter the 2019 season with the No. 57 MSR Acura NSX GT3 which will be driven by the all-female line up of Jackie Heinricher and Katherine Legge for the full season. The team is also welcoming Ana Beatriz to contest in the four Michelin Endurance Cup events with Simona De Silvestro signed for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Source. Sunday Group

MAZDA QUALIFIES SECOND AND THIRD FOR PETIT LE MANS

Jarvis leads Bomarito for second and third in Friday afternoon qualifying session

BRASELTON, Ga. (October 12, 2018) – Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito put in Mazda’s strongest qualifying effort of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on Friday afternoon.

In the fifteen-minute qualifying session for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans, Jarvis recorded a lap of 1:10.561 around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit which put the No. 77 Castrol / Williams Scotsman Mazda RT24-P second on the grid for the ten-hour race. Just 0.039-second behind was Bomarito, whose lap in the No.55 Mazda RT24-P was strong enough for third on the grid.

Jarvis, who is competing for the first time at Road Atlanta, also led the final practice of the weekend on Friday morning. He will share the No. 77 Castrol / ModSpace Mazda RT24-P with Lucas Di Grassi and Tristan Nunez while Bomarito will share the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P with Marino Franchitti and Spencer Pigot.

Quotes
John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports

“Starting up front is a big boost to the entire team and all of our Mazda fans. I am super proud of the effort by all of our partners. AER, Multimatic, and Mazda Team Joest have improved this package tremendously. Now, the focus is 100% on executing the race tomorrow. We must have good pace, flawless pit stops, and some good luck. Traffic will be tough all day and in the closing stages at night. Everyone in our program came here to do one thing tomorrow, and that is to bring home a victory for the Mazda brand. We plan to do everything possible to see that through.”

No. 55 Mazda RT24-P
Jonathan Bomarito

“When you are trying to put the lap together, and are pushing really hard, there’s some really high commitment sections on this track where you can make up time. So, I was really trying to throw the car out there and have it stick. We missed it by a little bit, but I am happy with third. The Mazda RT24-P was really good, and I was really happy with the balance. I am around a teammate at the start, which is always a good thing, and I think we have good cars for the race.”

No. 77 Castrol / ModSpace Mazda RT24-P
Oliver Jarvis

“That was a really exciting qualifying. I am happy with second place, it is a great place to start the race but we definitely had a car to fight for the pole. It was just a case of putting everything together. Big thanks to the team and to Mazda for giving me such a good car, and we are in good shape for tomorrow. We’ve been working really well as a crew, and so have all three drivers, so we are definitely excited to get into the race tomorrow.”

Source. Mazda

Porsche takes up Petit Le Mans from second grid row

The Porsche GT Team takes up the last race of the 2018 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship season from the second grid row. In Friday’s qualifying at Braselton, Georgia, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) set the third fastest lap time in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. In the ca. 510 hp sister car with the starting number 911, Patrick Pilet (France) posted the fifth quickest time. The Porsche GT Team sends its two sports cars from Weissach into the ten-hour race on Saturday sporting a design that evokes memories of the Porsche 911 GT1, which scored overall victory at the 1998 Le Mans 24-hour race and pole position at the inaugural Petit Le Mans event.

Unlike many of his rivals in the fiercely contested GTLM class, Bamber initially waited at the start of the qualifying in the hopes of benefiting from improved track conditions and less traffic. The New Zealander, who shares driving duties with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet (France), made optimal use of the grip in bright sunshine and high temperatures. Over the course of the 15-minute session on the famous Road Atlanta racetrack, Pilet was able to improve significantly. In the end, the Frenchman was just 0.160-seconds shy of his factory driver colleague. Pilet is joined in the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR by Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frederic Makowiecki (France).

In the GTD category, customer teams did not take part in the hunt for pole position. Timothy Pappas turned many laps in the ca. 500 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Park Place Motorsports to gain further insights for the race. The American shares the No. 73 vehicle with Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Spencer Pumpelly (USA). The Wright Motorsports squad also decided not to contest the qualifying. Works driver Patrick Long (USA), Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark) and Robert Renauer (Germany) take turns at the wheel of the No. 58 car.

The race takes off on Saturday, 13 October, at 11.05 hrs local time (17.05 hrs CEST). The final round of the 2018 IMSA SportsCar Championship can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com.

Qualifying quotes
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “The qualifying ran better than expected. During the session, the temperatures were the highest of the weekend so far. Under these conditions it was obvious that we lacked some speed over the lap compared to our rivals. However, this means very little for a race over ten hours. We’re well prepared to tackle Petit Le Mans, especially if the temperatures drop towards the end of the race.”

Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The qualifying was difficult with such high temperatures. A little more may have been possible. Once the tyres were at their peak, I made a small mistake during my flying lap. Still, I managed to improve my time on the following lap. We are well placed for the long race over ten hours – better in fact than we expected. That makes us very confident for race day.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The qualifying went really well. Our systematic work on the car with numerous improvements was clearly noticeable. The Porsche 911 RSR got faster and faster. This was obvious in the qualifying session because the car was a dream to drive. I managed a good, clean lap. Okay, it wasn’t enough for pole position, but third on the grid is very good. We’ve found a great setup for the race and we have very good tyres for the long distance. We should be strong, particularly in the dark. I hope everything comes together well on Saturday. We want to conclude the season with a win.”

Qualifying result
GTLM class
1. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert (FIN/USA/AUS), BMW M8 GTE, 1:17.006 minutes
2. Magnussen/Garcia/Fässler (DK/E/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 1:17.030
3. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:17.209
4. Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon (AUS/GB/USA), Ford GT, 1:17.220
5. Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:17.369
6. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 1:17.383
7. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 1:17.428
8. Milner/Gavin/Fässler (USA/GB/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 1.17.451
9. Vilander/Molina/Bertolini (FIN/E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, 1:17.774

GTD class
1. MacNeil/Serra/Jeannette (USA/BRA/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, 1:19.659 minutes
2. Hawksworth/Heinemeier/Rayhall (GB/DK/USA), Lexus RC F GT3, 1:19.732
3. Mies/Morad/van der Linde (D/CAN/RSA), Audi R8 LMS GT3, 1:19.744
13. Henzler/Pumpelly/Pappas (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 1:22.610
14. Long/Nielsen/Renauer (USA/DK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, no lap time

Source. Porsche

CORVETTE RACING AT ROAD ATLANTA: NO. 3 CORVETTE QUALIFIES ON GTLM FRONT ROW

Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen will start their race toward a second straight IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title from the front row of their category following qualifying for Saturday’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Garcia qualified second in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with a lap of 1:17.030 (18.706 mph in his No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on Friday afternoon – missing out on pole position by just 0.024 seconds. He and Magnussen, who will drive with Marcel Fässler, can repeat as champions with a fourth-place finish or better. But make no mistake: the goal is “better.”

A victory Saturday would be the first for the Garcia/Magnussen pairing this season. However, the No. 3 Corvette has finished on the GTLM podium in seven consecutive races and eight of 10 events.

Tommy Milner qualified eight in class with the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R that he will share with Oliver Gavin and Fässler, who is pulling double duty Saturday. Milner, who qualified with a lap of 1:17.451 (118.061 mph), had been fastest in class during Thursday’s night practice and Friday’s final practice session. The closeness of the GTLM class was evident as he was just 0.445 seconds off pole position.

Corvette Racing hasn’t missed a Petit Le Mans since the program began in 1999. It has eight class victories – the most of any team in race history – and two additional Road Atlanta wins that came in American Le Mans Series sprint events.

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SIRIUS XM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R — QUALIFIED SECOND IN GTLM: “It’s not bad. Coming into this race, the first thing you want to be is competitive, so we are. That’s a good starting point to defend and go for the championship. If you don’t have the pace is when everybody panics. The way it is now, we feel like we could have had pole but we are up there. It’s a 10-hour race and anything can happen as we proved and we saw the previous years. We don’t need to get crazy about winning the race; we need to win this championship. We need to be smart.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED EIGHTH IN GTLM: “That was frustrating after having a fast car in practice. But we just missed it a little bit in qualifying. We are tweaking on it in each session and trying to find a little bit of performance. For the track temperature and the conditions, we had a window to try and get a good lap time but we were just off on balance during those crucial laps. I went for it again toward the end, and had lost enough of the newness of the tire that that was basically it. It’s unfortunate. It would have been fun to go for pole; we have a car that is capable of running up front like that. But it’s a 10-hour race, as a lot of people say who qualify at the back! But I’m really excited for this race. We’ve had a great Corvette so far. I’m not worried about missing it for two laps during qualifying.”

Source. Corvette Racing

Pipo Derani Grabs Pole Position at Petit Le Mans

Tequila Patrón ESM driver Pipo Derani celebrated his 25th birthday in high fashion Friday at Road Atlanta by winning pole position in the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi for Saturday’s 21st Motul Petit Le Mans. Teammate and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship newcomer Norman Nato qualified the No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi in fourth.

Derani grabbed pole position early in the session, setting a fast timed lap on his first flyer lap. Olivier Jarvis and the No. 77 Mazda proved to be a strong competitor and followed suit with his own fast time to launch him to the top of the charts. Derani stayed on track and brought the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi to provisional pole a final time, and pitted with three minutes remaining on the clock. Jarvis stayed on track and continued to submit additional lap times, but failed to be quick enough to beat Derani’s Nissan. The Brazilian earned his third IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole position, and will lead the field to green on Saturday morning’s start.

New to Tequila Patrón ESM, Road Atlanta, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, WEC driver Norman Nato showed an impressive qualifying run as well, jumping as high as third place in the fifteen minute session. The 55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito put in a flying lap in the final laps, moving him down to fourth place for his IMSA debut.

Driver Quotes

Pipo Derani | No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi
Qualified on pole position, best time 1:10.437
In any race, it’s important to start up front, but this one has a special feeling, especially for myself. This is my last race with the team, and ESM’s last race with Tequila Patrón. It’s very emotional for the entire team, and it shows how hard we’ve been working the last three years. When I joined the team, we had lots of highs. What a better way to finish an era than to start on pole! We still have the race tomorrow, but I’m happy and grateful for the car they’ve given me to get on pole position.

Norman Nato | No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi
It’s a first qualifying for me. It has been a lot to learn this week. It’s my first race in the U.S. with the Ligier. I’m brand new to the track, tires, the team, everything, so fourth place is good. I’m a bit frustrated because I didn’t use 100% of the car. The car was fast today. Pipo did a great job. We worked a lot on the race set up during practice and I’m confident that the car will be great tomorrow and we’ll have a good finish.

KBru Communications

Championship Leading Whelen Engineering Cadillac to Start Ninth at Petit Le Mans

The Whelen Engineering Cadillac team will start the season finale IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta from ninth on the prototype grid for tomorrow’s 10-hour race.

Cadillac has a lot on the line in tomorrow’s Petit Le Mans race. The Whelen Engineering Cadillac team leads the prototype drivers points, Cadillac leads the DPi manufacturer standings, and Cadillac teams lead the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) points.

Following the 15-minute qualifying session this afternoon, the prototype points leading Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R in the hands of Felipe Nasr posted a time of 1:10.981 around the 2.5-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit. The time will have them starting from the fifth row right next to the second place in the championship Core Oreca team. Nasr, Eric Curran and Gabby Chaves are poised for 10-hours of fast driving once the green drops at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.

“I was pretty confident going into qualifying,” Nasr said. “All I needed was a clear run, which unfortunately didn’t happen. Twice I was blocked on my fastest laps. Another car left the pit lane on one of my quick laps – and I guess that sums up my qualifying. I’m sure we could have been fighting for the top four positions, but that’s just the way it is – some things we can’t control just happen. But we are focused on the race, and our car is good so that is what our energy will focus on with a big result tomorrow.”

Filipe Albuquerque had the wheel of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R and put in a lap of 1:10.892 that will have he, Christian Fittipaldi and Tristan Vautier starting from the third row.

“I lost two laps at the peak of the tires,” Albuquerque said. “We knew we needed to nail it on the window of the tires. Unfortunately, another car had a problem in corner five, and I lost half a second there. On the next lap, another guy went off and he was worried about cleaning his tires, and that destroyed another lap – my two ideal laps. I backed off and then tried to improve, but the tires were already gone. That was the best I could do, but I knew the potential was there for more. That’s a shame. We’ve been preparing so well for the whole race, and unfortunately it was not possible to put it all together. But we have a good car for the race, for sure.”

The No. 10 Konica-Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R was driven in qualifying by Renger Van Der Zande. The Dutchman put in a time of 1:11.468 that will have him starting the black Cadillac and handing over to Jordan Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay from the sixth row.

“A very disappointing qualifying, of course,” Van Der Zande said. “We have to find out what the real issue is, but the speed just was not there. I think this morning we were a lot better, but there was no way for a top-five in qualifying today. We just need to get back to where we were this morning and find just a little bit more and we can have a good day tomorrow. It didn’t help at the start of qualifying that I got balked by the two Mazdas on two very important laps – when our tires were at their peak. After that, I was able to improve the lap time a bit but it was just a shame they drove off and back on the track trying to get out of the way. There’s much better ways to do that, and it ruined my peak of the tires. It was a very small window for the tires.”

Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing

Paul Miller Racing to Start Fifth in Season Finale

Late Saturday night, the 2018 champion in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be crowed at the 21st Motul Petit Le Mans. Paul Miller Racing’s No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 is leading the class points and will start fifth in tomorrow’s race. Bryan Sellers qualified the car Friday afternoon with a best lap time of 1:20.079. The No. 86 Acura, the team’s main contender in the championship will start behind the Lamborghini in sixth.

The final battle for the champion title will take place over the course of ten grueling hours at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Sellers and co-drivers Madison Snow and Corey Lewis will share the driving duties, aiming to repeat the win they celebrated earlier this season at the legendary Twelve Hours of Sebring. The GTD team has placed within the top five for nine of the ten races this season, showing remarkable consistency. Also proving to be one of the most reliable entries in the field over the course of IMSA’s other three endurance races, the team predicts to again use clean, consistent lap times and pit strategy to stay up front and win the championship.

Bryan Sellers
It wasn’t a bad qualifying session, but wasn’t a great qualifying session. We are still 0.3 seconds off pole. We don’t have the speed for those guys, but that was pretty good. I could have done another one or two of those laps, which is the most important. We still have some work to do for race trim, but we’ve been continually getting better. We’ll go back, have a few more conversations and see if we can get one last bit out of it. We’ll go for ten hours tomorrow and see what happens.

Madison Snow
We had been struggling all week for pace, and were quite a bit off. Our team always seems to come together when we need to in order to give us something to race. We’re definitely better than we have been all weekend. We’re going for the championship. That’s our goal. This is a great place to start the race in. We’ll see where we are at the end of ten hours.

Corey Lewis
It’s been a hell of a year for Paul Miller Racing, and it’s an honor to be a part of the program. The year was off to a great start at Sebring and it’s great to be back with the whole team for the finale race. The guys are in the hunt for the championship and it’s an honor to be with them, and that they trust me to help them get the job done. It’s going to be a long ten hours. We’ve been working really hard throughout the week. We’ll put our heads down and our best foot forward. Hopefully at the end, we’ll be celebrating a championship.

Source. Paul Miller Racing

Focus on the Finish for Action Express Racing at Road Atlanta

Atlanta has a well-earned reputation for heavy traffic, but on Friday that reputation extended to the track as the grid was set for Saturday’s season finale at Road Atlanta.

Both the Whelen Engineering Racing and Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac Prototype entries saw their optimum qualifying laps compromised by unfortunate timing with other traffic during the 15-minute qualifying session on Friday.

Filipe Albuquerque and Felipe Nasr will start a respective sixth and ninth in Saturday’s 21st running of the Motul Petit Le Mans, the final race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Albuquerque timed in sixth fastest with a lap of 1:10.892-seconds in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R that will be co-driven by Christian Fittipaldi and Tristan Vautier in the classic 10-hour contest.

“I lost two laps at the peak of the tires,” said Albuquerque. “We knew we needed to nail it on the window of the tires. Unfortunately, another car had a problem in corner five, and I lost half a second there. On the next lap, another car went off and he was worried about cleaning his tires, and that destroyed another lap – my two ideal laps. I backed off and then tried to improve, but the tires were already gone. That was the best I could do, but I knew the potential was there for more. We’ve been preparing so well for the whole race, and unfortunately it was not possible to put it all together today. But we have a good car for the race, for sure.”

Nasr entered qualifying confident of a strong showing for the Prototype class points-leading No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi, but was also hindered by traffic on what would have been his fastest laps.

“I was pretty confident going into qualifying,” said Nasr, who will co-drive with Eric Curran and Gabby Chaves. “All I needed was a clear run, which unfortunately didn’t happen. Twice I was blocked on my fastest laps. Another car left the pit lane on one of my quick laps – and I guess that sums up my qualifying. I’m sure we could have been fighting for the top four positions, but that’s just the way it is as there are some things that we can not control.”

Nasr turned a best lap of 1:10.981-seconds on the 2.54-mile circuit.

“I felt we had a pretty good car over the weekend, and I felt the car was pretty connected as soon as we hit the track,” Nasr said. “But Road Atlanta is pretty demanding on the tires, and they can go away pretty quick, and I couldn’t do a better lap time later on. It is what it is, and I can’t change what is done, but I’m pretty confident going into the race with the car we have.”

Curran and Nasr enter the 10-hour event leading the overall championship, as well as the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, which Action Express Racing is looking to win for the fifth consecutive year. Both team entries are mathematically capable of claiming the endurance title on Saturday with three rounds of scoring to determine the title.

Source. Sunday Group

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