Michael Shank Racing dominate again to take Petit Le Mans pole


Michael Shank Racing have thrown themselves right into the hot seat for tomorrow’s 19th running of Petit Le Mans as they dominated yet another session at Road Atlanta to claim pole position.

In the Honda powered Ligier JSP2, Olivier Pla came within a whisker of breaking into the 1:12s as he set a 1:13.061 to put pole position beyond the reach of rivals behind.

The strongest competition came from the Mazdas, which themselves have been on the pace so far in Georgia, as Tristan Nunez in the #55 Mazda Prototype could only set a 1:13.520 – half a second down on the Michael Shank Racing crew. Nunez was though 0.4s ahead of Dane Cameron in the Action Express Racing Corvette DP who just about hauled the Daytona Prototype into the top three.

In fourth place, and keeping up a good effort for Mazda, was Tom Long who set a 1:14.061 in the #70 to give the first two rows a very burgundy presence as he relegated the second Action Express Corvette of Christian Fittipaldi down to fifth by just one-tenth of a second.

Sixth went to another Corvette DP, in their last weekend in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, as Ryan Dalziel finished a tenth behind Fittipaldi in the VisitFlorida Racing machine. He did though, edge out the Tequila Patron ESM Ligier of Johannes van Overbeek by a similar margin.

Rounding out the prototype class was Katherine Legge in the Deltawing who knocked the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette of Jordan Taylor down to ninth – and last – in the lead class.

10th place went to Prototype Challenge pole sitter Robert Alon in the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09. Alon didn’t have it easy though as Alex Popow finished just half-a-tenth behind in the Starworks Motorsport car, in what is looking like a good battle between the crews.

Third place, and looking for victory in what will be his final professional race before retirement, is Johnny Mowlem in the BAR1 Motorsport entry who is sharing the second row with Kenton Koch in the Performnce Tech Racing entry.

The Ford GT of Richard Westbrook had the pace around Road Atlanta (Credit: IMSA)
The Ford GT of Richard Westbrook had the pace around Road Atlanta (Credit: IMSA)

In GTLM Ford Chip Ganassi Racing put another success in what has been a good first season for the Ford GT as Richard Westbrook claimed the front spot on the grid as he beat Antonio Garcia’s Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R by 0.150s having set a 1:18.131.

Third went to a third marque as Risi Competizione put their Ferrari 488 GTE onto the second row as Toni Villander just about got the edge over Joey Hand in the second Ford GT with a lap that was 0.033s faster.

Just 0.022s behind Hand was Daniel Serra in the 5th place Scuderia Corsa Ferrari who relegated the fastest of the BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLMs down to sixth place as John Edwards logged a 1:18.382.

Finally GT Daytona and Jeroen Bleekemolen gave the Riley Motorsport Dodge Viper GT3 a good send-off in qualifying at least as he set a 1:21.305 to finish fourth-tenths up on Matt McMurry in the Park Place Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3R.

Behind was the second Porsche on the grid, the Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing entry of Mario Farnbacher who was pushed all the way to the chequered flag by Christina Nielsen in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.

Fifth place went to the fastest Audi R8 LMS in the field, the first of two Stevenson Motorsports cars as Lawson Aschenbach beat Robin Liddell in sixth to claim team honours if nothing else.