Race Weekend Central

Sebastien Bourdais Leads Ganassi Front-Row Sweep at Long Beach

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais showed Friday evening (April 8) that his practice pace was no fluke as he set a new track record at 101.981 mph to win the pole for Saturday’s IMSA race on the Streets of Long Beach.  It is Bourdais’ second straight pole after being fastest at Sebring.

During the DPi session, the six DPi drivers ran hard around the 1.968-mile course.  Drivers used every inch of the circuit, and then some.  JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Tristan Vautier would run right up to the wall exiting turn 1.  Wayne Taylor Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque went a little too hard.  He smacked the wall exiting turn 5 midway through the session.

Pipo Derani, who was fastest in the opening practice session, set the time to beat early, then dropped it down to just over 70 seconds.  With five minutes remaining, Bourdais was able to trounce Derani by over a half-second to put himself on top.  The rest of the class tried their best, but they could not prevent Bourdais from taking the pole.

Bourdais’ lap was more than a third of a second faster than teammate Alex Lynn, who set his best time with a minute to go in the session.  Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Tom Blomqvist will start third in his Acura with Derani in fourth.  Vautier will start fifth.  The entire DPi class broke the previous track record.  Bourdais’ pole time was nearly two seconds under the previous record.

In GTD Pro, BMW M Team RLL’s Connor de Phillippi was fastest for much of the session in his BMW M4 GT3.  However, on the final lap of qualifying, Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor put down a lap at 90.775 mph to win the class pole.  It is a brand new GTD-class track record for Long Beach.

Taylor’s lap was six-hundredths of a second faster than de Phillippi.  Unfortunately for BMW M Team RLL, de Phillippi’s No. 25 BMW was found to have exceeded the maximum “engine speed” allowed for the BMW M4 GT3 during qualifying.  What that means is that there is a maximum allowed number of RPMs that the engine can turn for each GT3 car.  In the case of the BMW, the maximum allowed revs are 7000.  Can’t go over that.  As a result, the laps where this occurred were invalidated.  They just so happened to be de Phillippi’s best laps.  As a result, he will start 25th overall.

As a result of de Phillippi’s time being disallowed, PFAFF Motorsports’ Mathieu Jaminet will start second in class, one-eighth of a second off of Taylor.  The Heart of Racing’s Ross Gunn starts third after losing his best time in the session due to a track limit violation, followed by Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth.  WeatherTech Racing’s Cooper MacNeil starts fifth.

In GTD, much of the session was dominated by Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley in his Liqui-Moly BMW.  However, right at the end of the session, Paul Miller Racing’s Madison Snow put down a lap at 90.267 mph to win the class pole.  Snow’s lap was fifth overall of all of the GT cars.

Snow ended up one-ninth of a second faster than Foley.  Unfortunately, Turner Motorsport fell victim to the same technical rule violation that hit the factory teams.  Going too high on the revs cost Foley three lap times.  While the same penalty put de Phillippi back to 25th on the grid, Foley’s best legal lap was still good for eighth in class, 18th overall.

As a result of Foley’s penalty, Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mike Skeen will start second in his Mercedes, then the Crucial Motorsports McLaren of Jon Miller third after his contact during the first practice session.  HTP Winward Motorsport’s Russell Ward will start fourth in class, then the Acura of Gradient Racing’s Marc Miller.


The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled to go green at 5:10 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon.  The race will air live on USA starting at 5 p.m.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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