Race Weekend Central

Sean McAlister Wins BMW M Endurance Challenge Pole

CarBahn Motorsports by Peregrine Racing’s Sean McAlister won the pole Thursday afternoon (Jan. 25) for the BMW M Endurance Challenge, the season opener for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. McAlister’s lap at 113.575 mph is not a new track record for Pilot Challenge at Daytona, but very close to it.

Smooge Racing’s Bubba Wallace was fastest early on with teammate John Geesbreght close behind as drivers teamed up in order to get the best draft. They were then usurped by the two Turner Motorsport BMWs led by Francis Selldorff.

However, the CarBahn Motorsport with Peregrine Racing team came to the front. The black, gray and green BMW had previously been fastest in both practice sessions. Here, McAlister outdid himself with his quick lap, which was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than his best lap in practic.

McAlister pulled into the pits with five minutes to go and let the rest of the field take shots at his lap. However, no one could take the BMW off of the pole.

McAlister’s lap was .803 seconds faster than TeamTGM’s Owen Trinkler. Hattori Motorsorts’ Jack Hawksworth will start third, then Motorsrports In Action’s Jesse Lazare and Selldorff.

Wallace ended up 20th at the end of the session. However, teams cannot touch the cars during the session for any reason. One of the Smooge Racing crewmembers touched Wallace’s No. 23. As a result, all of Wallace’s times were invalidated and he will have to start the race Friday from the rear of the Grand Sport class.

In TCR, Montreal Motorsports Group showed throughout the ROAR before the 24 that they would be strong. Qualifying was no different for the Canadian team.

Karl Wittmer put his No. 93 Honda Civic Type-R TCR on the provisional pole early in the session with teammate Louis-Phillippe Montour close behind. Later on, it was Bryan Herta Autosport’s No. 33 of defending champion Harry Gottsacker that took the advantage.

Gottsacker’s lap at 109.766 mph was good enough to allow the defending champion to pull into the pits with five minutes to go. Wittmer followed shortly afterwards.

None of the other 15 drivers in class could prevent Gottsacker from taking the class pole. He ended up .299 seconds ahead of Wittmer. Gou Racing’s Eduardo Gou will start third in his Audi, then Julian Santero in the Victor Gonzalez Racing Team Hyundai. HART’s Chad Gilsinger will start fifth.

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge BMW M Endurance Challenge Qualifying Results

In addition to the issues with Wallace’s No. 23, three other teams did not post times. VGRT’s No. 99 and JDC-Miller MotorSports’ No. 17 were not allowed to qualify due to failing to hand in their data sticks to IMSA officials within the specified time. Meanwhile, the Skip Barber Racing School Aston Martin has withdrawn after Ken Fukuda crashed in the Le Mans chicane right at the end of the second practice session Thursday morning.

The BMW M Endurance Challenge is scheduled to go green at 1:45 p.m. ET Friday afternoon. The race will be streamed live on Peacock starting at 1:40 p.m. ET.

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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.

Share via