BRASELTON, Ga. – In a qualifying session held in mixed conditions, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Louis Deletraz won the pole Friday (Oct. 13) for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans with a lap at 121.270 mph. It is the team’s second pole of 2023 and the first career IMSA pole for Deletraz.
In addition, the qualifying results put Deletraz’s teammates Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor into the GTP points lead. Their advantage is nine points over Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims entering the race.
Deletraz won the pole by .230 seconds over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais. BMW M Team RLL’s Augusto Farfus will start third, then Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Tom Blomqvist. Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Nick Tandy will start fifth.
Qualifying was a tricky situation due to precipitation coming in and out. All of the GTP teams started on slick tires, then were forced to think about what they were going to do since the dry line all but disappeared. The result ended up being a mixed bag of tire strategies.
As the session continued on, a dry line reappeared and times continued to drop. Despite this, the GTP teams never got within five seconds of the best laps in practice on Thursday.
The last five minutes saw a number of teams pit for fresh rubber. Prior to this, Blomqvist was fastest. Shortly afterwards, Deletraz bumped him off. Bourdais was able to put the Cadillac on pole with a minute remaining, but Deletraz took the pole with his final lap.
Thomas would set a quick time, then Keating would better it. That continued all the way up to the end of the session. On the final lap of the session, Keating put down a lap at 123.803 mph to win the class pole. Due to the wet weather during the GTP portion of qualifying, Keating’s lap ended up being the fastest lap overall.
In LMP3, the session ended up being a duel between Andretti Autosport’s Glenn van Berlo and JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Rasmus Lindh. Van Berlo was able to put down a quick lap at 119.258 mph. Lindh tried his best to top it, but just could not prevent van Berlo from taking the pole.
In the GT classes, teams had to deal with a mostly wet track and were presented with the choice between wet tires and dry tires. It ended up being a fair mix between the two.
The drying conditions meant that the speeds continued to pick up throughout the session. By the end of the 15 minutes, The Heart of Racing’s Ian James was fastest of all GT runners with a lap at 110.015 mph. It is James’ first IMSA pole since Laguna Seca in 2004 in the American Le Mans Series.
James’ lap was .679 seconds faster than the Iron Dames’ Doriane Pin. Vasser Sullivan’s Aaron Telitz will start third in class, followed by Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen. Winward Racing’s Philip Ellis was fifth.
In GTD Pro, Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth was fastest of all GT drivers for most of the session before James pipped him in the final couple of minutes. Despite that, Hawksworth’s lap at 109.946 mph held up for the GTD Pro pole. It was second of all GT drivers, .052 seconds slower than James.
Hawksworth’s lap was .931 seconds faster than Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia, who had the fastest GT lap in practice. WeatherTech Racing’s Jules Gounon will start third, then Pfaff Motorsports’ Patrick Pilet. Risi Competizione’s Daniel Serra was fifth.
There were no red flags during the session, but five teams did not set times during the session. WeatherTech Racing’s Porsche 963 and Performance Tech Motorsports both had their times stripped. WeatherTech Racing’s was due to unapproved work on the car during the GTP session, while Cameron Shields exited his Ligier JS P320-Nissan before time expired.
The 26th Annual Motul Petit Le Mans is scheduled to go green at 11:40 a.m. ET Saturday morning. Coverage will start at 11:30 a.m. ET on Peacock. USA Network will pick up coverage in progress at 6:30 p.m. ET after the conclusion of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 302.
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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