Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Filipe Albuquerque won the pole Friday (April 14) for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with a lap at 101.343 mph. The lap is an outright sports car lap record for Long Beach.
“It was a hard fight between us and the other Acura,” Albuquerque told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “We knew that we had a chance to go for [the pole]. It’s been a tough couple of years for us here, but we appear to be very competitive. Super happy for [the pole] for Wayne Taylor Racing.”
Albuquerque’s lap was .674 seconds faster than Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Tom Blomqvist. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais will start third in his Cadillac, followed by BMW M Team RLL’s Nick Yelloly. Teammate Augusto Farfus will start fifth.
GTP qualifying saw an unusual amount of strategy in play. Teams are limited to four sets of tires for the entire race weekend. Some teams chose to change tires during the session, while others did not.
While most of the other teams putted around, Bourdais was the first driver to set a time. He then continued to improve and keep himself at the top of the charts for nearly two-thirds of the session.
At that point, the Acuras came out to play. Blomqvist put himself on top before Bourdais answered. Then, Albuquerque went fastest and continued to improve. The lap that won the pole came with a little less than four minutes remaining.
In GTD, it didn’t take long for action to start. In fact, before anyone even got around to start a lap on the clock, Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe spun his McLaren in turn 5 after contact from Paul Miller Racing’s Madison Snow. Iribe was able to continue, but Snow’s BMW M4 GT3 had some bodywork damage.
Later on, Iribe had another in turn 5 that was significantly more hazardous for the rest of the drivers on-track. After quite a bit of time, Iribe was able to right himself and get back underway without the need for a red flag.
With under two minutes to go in the session, Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR’s Ashton Harrison appeared to hit the inside wall in turn 8. That slung her into the outside wall on corner exit with a near flush drivers’ side hit. Shortly afterwards, AO Racing’s PJ Hyett joined her in the barriers. That brought out the red flag that ended the session.
Harrison appeared to be rather sore when she exited her Acura and needed assistance to get to the safety truck for a ride back to the paddock. Hyett, like Harrison, had to bail out of the passenger side of his Porsche, but appeared to be otherwise fine.
Unfortunately for Hyett, “Rexy” was very heavily damaged in the crash. AO Racing was forced to make the decision that no team wants to make.
In between the incidents, there was a back-and-forth battle at the top between VasserSullivan’s Frankie Montecalvo and The Heart of Racing’s Marco Sorensen. The two traded times until Sorensen set a lap at 91.051 mph. The lap is not only a GTD track record for Long Beach, it was good enough for the GTD pole and best GT lap of the day.
Sorensen’s lap was .565 seconds faster than Montecalvo. Despite the contact with Iribe and a trip into the turn 1 runoff, Snow qualified third in class. Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mike Skeen was fourth, then Forte Racing with USRaceTronics’ Misha Goikhberg.
GTD Pro teams generally took their time in the session. They did not feature on the top of the charts early in the session, leaving the Pro-Am GTD cars to fight at the top.
When it was time to put up or shut up, VasserSullivan’s Jack Hawksworth came to play. He was the fastest man in practice earlier in the day and managed to back up that pace in qualifying.
Hawksworth put himself on top of the chart with five minutes to go, then improved to a lap at 91.044 mph, just six-thousandths of a second slower than Sorensen. It was more than good enough to take the GTD Pro pole.
The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled to go green at 5:10 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon. Race coverage will air live on USA Network at 5 p.m. ET. It will also be streamed live on Peacock.
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.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.