TUDOR Championship: Westbrook takes pole for season finale at Petit Le Mans
On a wet track, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype class points leader Richard Westbrook secured the overall pole for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
Westbrook, driving the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP, set a best time of 1:27.860 on his final lap in the tricky conditions to score both his and the team’s first pole this season.
Westbrook and Michael Valiante lead the pair of Action Express Racing pairings by three points, 279-276, heading into the season finale. They’ll co-drive with Mike Rockenfeller.
Christian Fittipaldi, who won the pole for last year’s race, came up short at 1:28.920 in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP. He’ll share the car with Joao Barbosa.
Circuit of The Americas winners Chip Ganassi Racing will roll off third, with Joey Hand setting a best time of 1:29.882 in the No. 01 Riley-Ford.
The remaining title contender, the No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, will start from fifth in class.
The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda was close to being completely repaired following its accident on Thursday night, but was not ready in time to make qualifying.
Additionally, neither Mazda SKYACTIV Diesel Prototype qualified due to the conditions.
Meanwhile, with this being an endurance race, Prototype Challenge teams didn’t necessarily qualify their Silver-rated drivers.
It meant that Tom Kimber-Smith and Johnny Mowlem squared off for the pole as the two pro drivers qualifying in the session while the remaining five entrants qualified at least one of their ams.
Kimber-Smith scored both his and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ first pole of the season, and in the series, with a best time of 1:32.378, in the No. 52 Oreca FLM09.
Mowlem was denied the shot for his second, and BAR1 Motorsports’ third pole of the year, and qualified the No. 16 Oreca FLM09 second just in arrears at 1:32.924.
Both drivers set their best times on their final laps.
Alex Popow was best of the Silver-rated drivers, third in class in the No. 88 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09.
Points leaders Jon Bennett and Colin Braun of CORE autosport will roll off from seventh and last in class.
Earl Bamber scored GT Le Mans class pole for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, despite crashing his Porsche 911 RSR in a treacherous, rain-soaked qualifying session Friday at Road Atlanta.
Bamber lost control of his No. 912 Porsche North America entry at the Esses with less than five minutes remaining in the 15-minute session, after reeling off two quick laps good enough for the class pole.
While his best time, a 1:30.074, was erased due to bringing out the session-ending red flag, Bamber’s second-best time of 1:30.304 held for the top spot, his second in TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competition.
Bamber edged out teammate Nick Tandy by 0.094 second for another all-Porsche front row, with the No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin qualifying third.
Bamber will share driving duties in Saturday’s 10-hour enduro with Joerg Bergmeister and Fred Makowiecki.
Lucas Luhr (BMW Team RLL) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Risi Competizione) completed the top-five in the challenging session.
Bamber wasn’t the only Porsche to hit trouble, with Bryan Sellers crashing his No. 17 Team Falken Tire car in the opening minutes.
Sellers managed to limp back to the pits but the car did not set a time.
Cameron Lawrence scored a shocking GTD class pole, bumping Spencer Pumpelly on Lawrence’s final flying lap.
The Riley Motorsports driver reeled off a 1:38.295 lap in his No. 93 Dodge Viper GT3-R with just seconds left on the clock in the 15-minute session.
It marked the 23-year-old’s first TUDOR Championship pole in a car he’ll share with Marc Goossens and Al Carter on Saturday.
Pumpelly, who topped the time charts for the majority of the session, was second in his No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America, thanks to a 1:38.886 lap.
The No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Leh Keen was third, with Guy Cosmo, returning to Flying Lizard Motorsports this weekend, in fourth.
Ben Keating made it two Vipers in the top-five, ahead of Jeff Segal in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in sixth.
Championship leader Christina Nielsen will roll off from seventh on the grid.
The 18th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda gets underway Saturday at 11:10 a.m. ET.