Michael Shank Racing takes pole for IMSA finale at Petit Le Mans

BY foxsports • September 30, 2016

Olivier Pla has put Michael Shank Racing on pole for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Petit Le Mans, in the team’s final outing with its Ligier JS P2 Honda.

The Frenchman turned a 1:13.061 lap time in the 15-minute Prototype session to claim the team’s first pole since the Twelve Hours of Sebring, also achieved by Pla.

It came after a dominant run by the Ohio-based squad so far at Road Atlanta, having topped the time charts in every timed session this weekend.

Pla will share driving duties with Ozz Negri and John Pew in tomorrow’s ten-hour race, which also doubles as the fourth and final round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

The No. 55 Mazda Prototype of Tristan Nunez qualified second, 0.459 seconds slower than Pla, with the championship-leading No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to start third with a 1:13.903 lap.

Tom Long (Mazda) and Christian Fittipaldi (Action Express) completed the top-five, with the Daytona and Sebring-winning No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Honda only able to muster seventh quickest, in the hands of Johannes van Overbeek.

Robert Alon scored his fourth Prototype Challenge class pole of the season for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports.

Alon took his No. 52 Oreca FLM09 to a fast lap of 1:16.411, edging out the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry of Alex Popow, who made a late improvement to second.

The class pole-sitting team of Alon, Tom Kimber-Smith and Jose Gutierrez, are seeking the team’s second consecutive Patron Endurance Cup in tomorrow’s race.

Johnny Mowlem, in his final professional start, will start third in the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports entry, with Kenton Koch (Performance Tech) and Stefano Coletti (Starworks) completing the top-five in class.

Richard Westbrook gave Ford Chip Ganassi Racing its fourth GT Le Mans class pole of the season.

Westbrook laid down a best lap of 1:18.131 in the No. 67 Ford GT, edging out the No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia by 0.152 seconds.

It marked the Englishman’s third class pole of the season as he and co-driver Ryan Briscoe look to steal away the GTLM title from Corvette’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, who head into the ten-hour race with a 11-point lead.

Milner qualified the No. 4 Corvette in seventh.

The No. 62 Risi Competizone Ferrari 488 GTE of Toni Vilander will start third in class, with Joey Hand (Ford) and Daniel Serra (Scuderia Corsa) completing the top-five in class.

The entire ten-car GTLM class was separated in qualifying by 0.735 seconds.

Jeroen Bleekemolen took the Dodge Viper GT3-R to the GT Daytona class pole in its final race in series competition.

The Dutchman reeled off a quick lap of 1:21.305 to edge out the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Matt McMurry by 0.460 seconds.

It marked the first class pole of the season for the Riley Motorsports squad, with Bleekemolen set to share driving duties with Ben Keating and Marc Miller in tomorrow’s race.

The No. 23 The Heart of Racing/AJR Porsche of Mario Farnbacher and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Christina Nielsen, who is on the brink of the GTD title, completed the top-four in class.

The Petit Le Mans gets underway Saturday at 11:10 a.m. ET, live on FS1.

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