Dyson Racing scored its first American Le Mans Series pole of the season following a duel in qualifying between Guy Smith and Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s Klaus Graf for the top starting position at Virginia International Raceway.
Smith, making his return to the No. 16 Lola B12/60 Mazda, reeled off a best lap of 1:35.965 in the 15-minute P1/P2 qualifying session. The Englishman edged out Graf’s No. 6 HPD ARX-03c by 0.204 seconds.
The pole came in Smith’s final American Le Mans Series race, as he is not scheduled to drive the Dyson machine in the series finale at Road Atlanta.
Smith will share the wheel of the Mazda-powered P1 contender with Johnny Mowlem tomorrow.
“We made a small change before qualifying to help us find that extra tenth or two to get the pole position,” Smith said. “It’s fantastic.
“I’ve been fortunate to run some GT cars, and to get behind the wheel of a P1 car around somewhere like here… No matter how old you are or how many cars you’ve driven, the excitement of driving through the hurry up sweeps flat-out in sixth gear is something else.”
Level 5 Motorsports went 1-2 in P2, led by the No. 551 HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Briscoe. The Australian turned a quick lap of 1:39.796, outpacing the sister No. 552 entry of Marino Franchitti by 0.511 seconds.
Class rivals Extreme Speed Motorsports struggled in the session, as the No. 01 car of Scott Sharp went off-course in Turn 11, damaging the nose of his HPD.
Sharp qualified 9th overall, while ESM’s No. 02 HPD of Johannes van Overbeek was third but nearly one-second slower than Briscoe’s class pole-winning time.
Dane Cameron scored his second class pole in the last three races, as PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and co-driver Mike Guasch set their sights on securing the Prototype Challenge championship tomorrow.
Cameron turned a fast lap of 1:41.854 in his No. 52 Oreca FLM09, edging out Tom Kimber-Smith in the title-contending No. 05 CORE autosport entry by 0.251 seconds.
The COTA class-winning No. 8 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca of Kyle Marcelli completed the top three in class.
PR1′s Guasch can clinch the PC drivers’ championship on Saturday if he and Cameron win and the No. 05 CORE entry of Kimber-Smith and Jon Bennett finish third or lower.
BMW Team RLL will start from the pole position in GT, following an impressive performance by Maxime Martin.
The Belgian took his No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE to a best lap of 1:45.978, edging out the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia of Matteo Malucelli by a mere 0.135 seconds.
It marked Martin’s first career American Le Mans Series pole and third in a row for the German manufacturer, all coming with different drivers.
“It’s for sure a great pole position for me,” said Martin, who will team with Bill Auberlen on Saturday. “We know tomorrow it will be difficult, we are slower in a straight line with our engine power, but the team is working out a good strategy so I hope to bring it home.”
The No. 56 BMW of Dirk Mueller, who remains with a chance of the GT title, qualified third, ahead of Marco Holzer’s No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche, which paced Friday morning’s practice session.
The 15-minute GT qualifying session ended early when the No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Tommy Milner went off course and made contact with the Turn 12 barrier.
Milner got caught up in fluids laid down by Malucelli’s Ferrari. As a result, the Italian lost his quickest time in qualifying, but will still start second in class.
In GTC, Damien Faulkner claimed his third class pole of the year and second consecutive. The Irishman peddled his No. 66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to a fast lap of 1:52.213.
Faulkner edged out the No. 22 Alex Job Racing entry of points leader Jeroen Bleekemolen by 0.397 seconds.
Spencer Pumpelly was third quickest in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, which currently leads the teams’ title.
The Oak Tree Grand Prix takes the green flag at 2:15 p.m. ET.
ALMS, Dyson Racing, Guy Smith, Sports Cars, VIR