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IMSA PETIT LE MANS QUALIFYING ROUND UP

Nasr Captures Petit Le Mans Pole for Whelen Engineering Racing

Whelen Engineering Racing driver Felipe Nasr captured his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole position in qualifying for the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Friday. The team has shown strong pace in the practice sessions leading up to the intense 15-minute session as Whelen Engineering Racing looks to make a winning close to the 2019 season.

Nasr turned a quick lap of 1:08.457-seconds on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R that he shares with Pipo Derani and Eric Curran.

“I am very pleased with the lap and finally putting the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac on pole position,” said Nasr. “I feel like the car is alive and we are able to fight for a victory. Starting from pole gives us a great chance for the race. I want to dedicate this pole position to my Action Express Racing team. They have done an amazing job all year long and we finally are able to get the starting position we have been working for. I want to enjoy the race and work on maximizing our opportunity.”

Nasr and Derani enter the finale trailing in the season championship by 12 points. The duo – joined by Curran – are second in the quest for their second-consecutive IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup (IMEC). They trail by only two points in a bid to make it a perfect six straight IMEC titles for Action Express Racing since 2014.

“We want to win the Endurance Cup – it’s big,” Nasr said. “Our chances for the overall championship are quite slim, so we want to maximize every stage of the race tomorrow, and then go for the victory.”

Nasr followed Derani as pole winner for the 10-hour classic. Derani led qualifying for a different team in 2018 – shortly after being announced as a new Whelen Engineering driver.

“Pipo’s not happy that I took away his track record,” Nasr smiled after qualifying. “This is my first IMSA pole. I’ve been close a couple of times, but never got the job done. It’s great to have one for the final race of the year.”

The No. 31 team has been strong all weekend, leading three of the four practices including Thursday evening’s 90-minute session.

“Straight out of the box, from the truck itself, I felt like we had a decent car,” Nasr said. “We were just working on the details, getting the tire pressures right. In qualifying, it’s all about nailing that lap. I felt pretty confident going into qualifying because I knew the car I had on my hands. I worked with my engineer on the final details and I think it paid off. Finally, the car feels alive again after all those races and we are able to be in contention for victory. Tomorrow is a day that we have to look at every opportunity out there to maximize the results.”

Source. Sunday Group

Mustang Sampling Ready to Fight From Third at Road Atlanta

Mustang Sampling Racing will be looking for a strong finish to the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season after a solid third-place qualifying effort for Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

The team has been in a winning position late in the race in the two most recent editions of the 10-hour race, and has a firm focus on converting the speed in the Mustang Sampling car into a big result to close out the 2019 IMSA season.

Filipe Albuquerque took the inside of the second row, running a lap of 1:08.629-seconds in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. He will be joined in the 10-hour race by Joao Barbosa and Mike Conway. The sister No. 31 entry will start directly in front of the No. 5 after capturing the pole position in the ultra-tight qualifying session.

“It was super close and on the limit,” Albuquerque said of his fastest lap. “It was a different feeling driving around here with the Michelin tires, but I was able to lay down a good lap. A big congratulations to my teammates for securing the pole position. When it comes to an endurance event it all comes down to the race. We have ten hours to race.”

Saturday’s 22nd running of the Motul Petit Le Mans is set to take the green flag at 12:05 p.m.

Source. Sunday Group

Performance Tech Motorsports to Start First in the 22nd Annual Motul Petit Le Mans

Performance Tech Motorsports is capping off the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship season with the team’s fourth Motul Pole Award in the LMP2 Class.

Driver Kyle Masson, Windemere, Florida, took the reins of the No. 38 Centinel Spine ORECA 07 LMP2 for the fifteen-minute qualifying session at MICHELIN Raceway Road Atlanta. His time of 1:10.772 placed him two-tenths of a second ahead of second place Matt McMurry after a heated volley for the pole. Masson’s hot lap broke the previous class track record held by Performance Tech Motorsports driver James French at 1:16.09.

“Being on the front row headed into Turn One on the right side is definitely an advantage,” Masson said. “With cold tires, it will be really difficult for Matt to make a move around me on the outside. I don’t think we will need to worry about that as long as I can do my job and get my tires up to temp. This will definitely be a difficult race. I know the other car has a stellar lineup and we have a great lineup of our own so it will be good. Performance Tech put a great car out on track this weekend and I just want to head into the race and give them the finish they deserve.”

For Team Principal Brent O’Neill Masson’s overall performance throughout the season is a point of great pride.

“We had a good car today and have had a good car the last few days,” O’Neill said. “The guys are all up to speed. Kyle has done a super job the last six months. He’s really come into his own as a driver and this lap just further proves it. It’s a long race tomorrow though so we just need to go out there, run around and keep the car clean.”

Source. Performance Tech Motorsports

#24 BMW M8 GTE will start the IMSA finale from second row on the grid – Eng comes third in qualifying

The stage is set for a gripping finale of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta (USA). In GTLM qualifying, Philipp Eng (AUT) recorded the third-fastest lap time at the wheel of the #24 BMW M8 GTE of 1:15.784 minutes. The gap to the Ferrari on pole position was 0.145 seconds. Colton Herta (USA) had to make do with a time of 1:16.327 minutes and ninth on the grid.

Eng will share driving duties with John Edwards (USA) and Jesse Krohn (FIN) over the course of the 10-hour Petit Le Mans on Saturday. In the second car, Herta will alternate in the cockpit with Connor De Phillippi (USA) and Tom Blomqvist (GBR).

Philipp Eng (#24 BMW M8 GTE, third place): “First of all a big thank you goes to the team. I’m the supporting driver here, and still they allowed me to qualify the car. I really appreciate that. It felt great to be out there without any traffic. The balance of the car was just great. We have done a good job in improving the car from first free practice to now. I just want to win this race. The same goes for my team-mates. We are really fired up for the race.”

Colton Herta (#25 BMW M8 GTE, ninth place): “I was elected to do my first qualifying session in IMSA competition but I just didn’t get the most out of the car. On my first push lap I made a mistake. Then it was very difficult to get the right temperature into the tyres. I think for the race we have a really good car though.”

Source. BMW

CORVETTE RACING AT PETIT LE MANS: FULL SPEED AHEAD IN FINAL C7.R RACE

Corvette Racing will try to race its way through the field Saturday and close the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R era with a GT Le Mans (GTLM) victory in the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Antonio Garcia qualified the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R second Friday in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s top production based class Friday. He set a time of 1:15.702 (120.789 mph) in the car that he shares with full-season teammate Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller. However, the No. 3 Corvette was found to be out of compliance in post-qualifying inspection and will be moved to the back of the GTLM field.

Teammate Oliver Gavin, in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R, set a time of 1:16.048 (120.239 mph) Friday and will start seventh in GTLM. In a display of the competitiveness of GTLM, Gavin was only 0.409 seconds from pole and less than two-tenths from the second row. He will drive with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler – the trio having placed second at Road Atlanta in GTLM a year ago.

Saturday’s race will be the 74th and final race for the C7.R under the Corvette Racing banner with the new Corvette C8.R set to make its racing debut in January at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. On Saturday morning, the C8.R will perform two demonstration laps ahead of the 2019 season finale.

Corvette Racing has competed at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta more than any other venue in its history; Saturday will be No. 23. There have been 10 victories in that span including eight in Petit Le Mans. So the long-game approach in the race is something that the program has used to its advantage time and again.

The 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans is set for 12:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 12. It will air live starting at noon ET on NBC, followed by coverage on the NBC Sports App from 3-5:30 p.m. and on NBCSN from 5:30-10:30 p.m. Live audio coverage will be available on IMSA Radio, Sirius 113, XM 202 and SiriusXM Online 972.

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – STARTING SEVENTH IN GTLM: “Qualifying was close, very close. Unfortunately we were at the back end of it. We definitely improved the car going into that session. It seemed like everybody else took a decent step forward. I had a pretty good lap going, probably my best lap, and I was probably a little too tentative going into (Turn) Seven and it cost us some time. It would have bumped us up a couple of spots and maybe got us in front of the Porsche. We know it’s a long race and where you start here has very little to do with where you finish. So I feel we can improve the car and we will work with that overnight and get ourselves in the best possible spot for the start. It’s going to be long, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be close. I think we have finally gotten ourselves in a good spot with the car and it will be raceable in every condition with every tire. We will be ready to go.”

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – STARTING NINTH IN GTLM: “It was a pretty good lap. We were still able to do a good one even after losing that amount of track time in Practice One. We’ve been going back and forth setup in Practice Two. At the end of the day that gave us a good indication of something to play with. We put in everything we could to show we have a fast car, and we showed it. We were very close to pole which I didn’t expect for sure when we put together the lap. Everybody was super close. I’m happy with how the car behaved and the car we have for the race. Ending up at the back doesn’t change our speed. We will have speed tomorrow and that should be a good thing.”

Source. Corvette Racing

Best Porsche 911 RSR tackles season finale from position four

Porsche takes up the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from the second grid row. In the qualifying session at Road Atlanta (USA), the Belgian Laurens Vanthoor secured the fourth grid spot at the wheel of the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. In the No. 911 sister car, his works driver colleague, Nick Tandy (Great Britain), turned the seventh quickest lap in the close hunt for top times on the storied 3.6-kilometre racetrack. The Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Canadian team Pfaff Motorsports will tackle the GTD class from position six on the grid.

In warm, sunny conditions in the US state of Georgia, teams and drivers battled hard for top times in the 15-minute qualifying. As the session progressed, lap times tumbled. Vanthoor’s times improved over the first five laps before traffic and deteriorating tyres hampered further progress. For the race, the championship leader shares the cockpit of the ca. 510 hp No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR with Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Mathieu Jaminet (France).

At the wheel of the sister car, Tandy patiently warmed up his tyres at the start of the session before heading out and initially topping the time sheet in his class. The British racer, however, could no longer make any significant improvements and thus defend himself against the attempts of his rivals. Tandy shares driving duties in the No. 911 Porsche with the two Frenchmen Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki. Both vehicles contest the race flying the colours of Coca-Cola.

In the GTD class, Zacharie Robichon planted the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Pfaff Motorsports on position eight. The Canadian is joined in the cockpit of the 500+hp GT3 vehicle by his compatriot Scott Hargrove and Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Weissach). The ten-hour Petit Le Mans race gets underway on Saturday, 12 October, at 12:05pm local time (18:05 pm CEST).

Qualifying quotes
Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “We can be satisfied with the results of the qualifying. There were five different manufacturers within about two tenths of a second. This underlines just how intense and tough the competition is in the GTLM class. I’m feeling confident for the race because we’ve worked systematically on the race setup. Our car will be strong as the temperatures drop. And that’s exactly when the decisive phase starts on Saturday evening.”

Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “That was a tight
situation with very close gaps between all GTLM-class cars. In the sessions we put the main focus on race preparation, which means a consistently fast pace over a long distance. In view of this, the result was pretty good. Tomorrow is about the big trophies. We have to perform flawlessly and stay within striking distance. When the sun goes down, we want to go for it. We’re eager to give the fans a great show, win all the titles and send the Porsche 911 RSR into the museum with a top result.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The result is okay, although a little more could have been possible. I think I didn’t get the perfect time for my flying lap. The tyres weren’t within the optimal operating window at that moment. I’m certain that we’ll manage to set a more consistent pace in the race compared to our competitors.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “We had a bit of homework to do after the practice session this morning because our car didn’t have the optimal setup. We made the perfect adjustments for the qualifying. Fourth on the grid is a solid result. I made a slight error on my hot lap. We could have perhaps gained one or two positions otherwise. Never mind, the qualifying result isn’t the most important thing for a ten-hour race.”

Qualifying result
GTLM class
1. Calado/Pier Guidi/Serra (GB/I/BR), Ferrari 488 GTE, 1:15.639 minutes
2. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (DK/E/D), Corvette C7.R, + 0.063 seconds
3. Krohn/Edwards/Eng (FIN/USA/A), BMW M8 GTE, + 0.145 seconds
4. Bamber/Vanthoor/Jaminet (NZ/B/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.203 seconds
7. Pilet/Tandy/Makowiecki (F/GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.398 seconds

GTD class
1. Sellers/Lewis/Seefried (USA/USA/D), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 1:19.530 minutes
2. Keating/Bleekemolen/Fraga (USA/NL/BR), Mercedes-AMG GT3, + 0.135 seconds
3. McNeil/Vilander/Westphal (USA/FIN/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, + 0.191 seconds
6. Robichon/Hargrove/Kern (CDN/CDN/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.545 seconds

Source. Porsche

THIRD ROW FOR MAZDA IN PETIT QUALIFYING

The third row for the 22nd Motul Petit Le Mans will be locked out by the pair of Soul Red Crystal Mazda RT24-Ps.

In qualifying, held Friday afternoon, Timo Bernhard drove the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P to fifth place in the Daytona Prototype international field with a time of 1:08.847 around the 2.54-mile circuit. Just behind in sixth place was Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P, with a time of 1:09.204.

Mazda Team Joest has captured victories in the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship at Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Road America. The team is looking to improve upon it’s double podium in the 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans when the Mazda RT24-Ps finished the ten-hour race in second and third place.

QUOTES
John Doonan
Director, Mazda Motorsports
“While it is always nice to be at the front of the field and go for pole position, our biggest priority here throughout practice is to ensure that we have cars that are good for the race. We have to have two Mazda RT24-Ps that are good through the heat of the day but can also be able to take advantage of the cooler temperatures that we will get when the sun goes down. Last year we were second and third, and all of us are focused on improving that this year.”

No. 55 Mazda RT24-P
Harry Tincknell
“This is my first Petit Le Mans. This track is really intense – it’s a fast and short lap, it has a lot of rhythm. We’ve been sort of in the middle of the pack all weekend, but with our pace we are probably in a position to try some alternate strategies but it’s a long race and anything can happen. Over the course of ten hours, the track can change – it grips up and as it goes into night, it cools down a lot and you can decide to set up for the heat of the day or hang on until the track comes to you at the end.”

No. 77 Mazda RT24-P
Timo Bernhard
“I enjoyed qualifying a lot. It’s the best moment for the race weekend in terms of fun because it is low fuel and the car has sticker tires. We are very close to fourth place, but we are not 100% happy with the car. A lot more was not possible – that was pretty much it. It was a good lap so we are not entirely happy with the result, but this we can change tomorrow. We have a good race car.”

Source. Mazda

Meyer Shank Racing Fourth on the Grid for Motul Petit Le Mans

Entering its sixth Motul Petit Le Mans event, Meyer Shank Racing will start on the second row from fourth on the grid for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale (Saturday, 12:00pm ET NBC).

Justin Marks made his first qualifying effort of the season for the No. 86 AutoNation Acura NSX GT3. Having last raced with at Watkins Glen – which resulted in a victory – with the championship leading squad of Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher, Marks was tasked with the 15-minute qualifying run on Friday.

An immediate red flag on lap 1 put a delay on the qualifying session. But once back to green, Marks laid down his fast lap of 1:19.820-seconds on lap three. He was on a run for one more even faster lap but would finish out the session fourth in the order.

“I am very happy with the qualifying effort,” said Marks. “We have thrown so much at the car this weekend to try and get a platform on the Acura where it is drivable through the entirety of the race. The car has good speed, so it comes down to making sure the operation of it is good, so we do not have consequences. While we did not have the outright one-lap speed, we do have a drivable car that will be good at the long runs.”

The No. 86 AutoNation Acura is up for several IMSA championships this weekend. Taking the green flag on Saturday will lock in the GTD championship for Meyer Shank Racing. The team must also finish ahead of Lamborghini to secure the Manufacturer championship for Acura at the end of the 10-hour race. MSR is also eligible to win the IMSA Michelin Endurance Championship as it currently sits third in the standings.

Source. Sunday Group

WeatherTech Racing to Start Third at Petit Le Mans

WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Toni Vilander (Kankaanpää, Finland), and Jeff Westphal (San Mateo, Calif.) will start the season finale IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans from third on the GTD grid for tomorrow’s 10-hour race.

The trio of drivers had the Scuderia Corsa prepared WeatherTech Racing Ferrari in the top five in all three practice sessions on the weekend. Westphal had the wheel of the No. 63 for the 15-minute qualifier. The session started with a BMW going into the sand on the first lap, stopping the action. Westphal was able to maintain his concentration and post a time of 1:19.721 around 2.54-mile, 12-turn Michelin Raceway circuit that had him starting fifth. However, two cars that posted laps in front of him had their times disallowed by the IMSA Officials, moving the team to third on the grid for tomorrow’s noon time start.

“We feel good about it, any time you are in the first couple of rows that is a good starting position,” Westphal said. “It is a 10-hour race, you don’t win it in the first corner or the first hour. I am happy with the qualifying effort. The WeatherTech Ferrari and Scuderia Corsa team has been great. Toni and Cooper are a blast to work with and I am looking forward to having a good race tomorrow.”

Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing

Paul Miller Racing earns home-town pole position for Lamborghini

Paul Miller Racing has earned back-to-back pole positions in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Corey Lewis setting the pace at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta today.

Lewis set the pole in qualifying for tomorrow’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans with a track record-breaking time of 1 minute, 19.530 seconds. The performance mirrored Lewis’ effort at the previous round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where he and Bryan Sellers not only started from pole but went on to win the race.

Lewis, Sellers, and new teammate Marco Seefried will be chasing the 1st Phorm / Total Lubricants-sponsored Lamborghini’s second win of the year tomorrow and fourth podium of 2019.

Last year, the Paul Miller Racing squad finished third in the season-ending Petit Le Mans to clinch the GTD driver’s championship.

Tomorrow the Atlanta-based team will be one of three Lamborghinis in the race looking to defend the Italian brand’s manufacturer’s championship points lead.

“Another great result from Corey and a brilliant effort from the whole team to bounce back after yesterday. Marco suffered some contact while getting up to speed, but the way the team rebounded from that has been brilliant,” Paul Miller Racing founder, Paul Miller, said.

“But the job is only half done. Tomorrow will be a huge challenge – 10 hours around Road Atlanta always is – but I’m confident we will be a strong contender and will be ready to push hard to the checkered flag.”

Driver Quote

Corey Lewis
“I’m so proud of the Paul Miller Racing team. Yesterday was a long day, but we capitalized today with our best foot forward. We are stoked to be up to the sharp end of the field. Let’s keep our nose clean and end up where we started.
“Being based in Atlanta, you have a lot of family and friends here for the team. You want to perform well for everybody. No added pressure – I’m just here to do my job.
“Today felt like Monterey all over again with the red flag. Your team is talking to you, and you might not get back out, but be ready. I knew we had the pace to be somewhere towards the sharp end of the field.”

Source. Paul Miller Racing

FERRARI CAPTURES POLE IN PETIT LE MANS QUALIFYING

Ferrari captured the pole position in the GTLM category in Friday’s qualifying for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Both Ferrari teams will be looking to add to their Road Atlanta track history when the 22nd Petit Le Mans takes the green flag at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Risi Competizione won the inaugural event in 1998 with drivers Wayne Taylor, Eric van der Poele and Emmanuel Collard in a  Ferrari F333 SP. Since then, the team has added three class victories, most recently in the 2016 Petit Le Mans. Scuderia Corsa is the defending GTD winner, with MacNeil, Serra and Gunnar Jeannette winning the 2018 event in the WeatherTech Ferrari.

GTLM

Running in IMSA for the first time since finishing second in the season-opening 24 Hours At Daytona, Risi Competizione dusted off its red No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE and James Calado put it on the pole for Saturday’s 10-hour race.

Calado captured his first IMSA pole by taking the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit in 1:15.639-seconds, a track record. He will be joined in the race by Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra, resurrecting the lineup that captured GTE Pro honors for Ferrari in June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“It’s great to see Risi back on top again,” Calado said. “It’s pretty awesome, honestly. I think it’s so nice to come into the box and see the emotion in their faces, their spirits have been lifted.”

Calado led a competitive session that saw five different manufacturers in the top five positions.

“All the manufacturers are pushing hard,” Calado said. “That wasn’t easy. The track is really, really difficult. But it’s a long race tomorrow. This is just one lap out of the many we have in 10 hours. It’s going to be about keeping our nose clean and learn from experience to see what happens in the end. But we’re there, we are confident for tomorrow.

“I’m just happy for Giuseppe [Risi], he really puts in a lot of time and his own funding towards this team,” Calado added. “He’s extremely passionate towards this sport. It just makes us coming into this and getting good results even more special. It’s great to see the team uplifted. This is just the start now. But there is always pressure. You need pressure. Especially for a team like this, you just want to do as well as you can. So let’s see, let’s try to get a win tomorrow.”

Source. Ferrari

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