Smith Takes Overall Pole As BMW Get Another ALMS GT First

by Joe Hudson
Chris Dyson sprung a surprise to take pole position (Credit: Kelsi Nilsson)

Guy Smith has taken a rare pole position for Dyson Racing in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Virginia International Raceway, turning the tables on the monopoly garnered by Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in recent races.

Clocking a 1:35.965 in the Lola Mazda he will be sharing this weekend with Johnny Mowlem, pipped the Muscle Milk HPD by only two tenths of a second to gain Smith’s 8th pole position in his ALMS career.

The 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours winner said: “I knew it was going to be pretty close, but that’s what makes it so interesting. Klaus and Lucas are absolutely first-class drivers, and to beat them, you really need to be on your game. It’s great to be on the pole position, but tomorrow’s another day. We’ve got to sit down and plan to see how we can beat them in the race. It’s been a pretty tough year for Dyson Racing, and this will be my last ALMS race, so I want to go out with a good one.”

Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr will be hoping that qualifying isn’t an omen for the race as they will be hoping to maintain their seven race winning streak in the ALMS, the last team to beat them to a P1 win was the Audi team at Sebring.

Level 5 Motorsport took a 1-2 in P2 as Ryan Briscoe took pole position by five tenths of a second ahead of team mate Marino Franchitti, who is being joined in driving this weekend by Guy Cosmo and Stefan Johansson.

Into GT and Maxime Martin became the third different BMW driver to take a GT pole this season for BMW Team RLL, and his time of 1:45.978 was enough to see him sail past the class record in the process.

“This is the first time for me at the track; my first time every track in the U.S. It’s not always easy. I’m really happy for the team and working with my teammate, Bill Auberlen. He’s teaching me a lot, and getting me up to speed very quickly. Third pole of the team, third pole for the 55, third different driver. We know tomorrow it will be difficult, we are slower in a straight line with our engine power, but the team is working out a good strategy so I hope to bring it home.” Stated Martin.

He edged out a vastly improving Risi Competizione Ferrari as Matteo Malucelli managed a time only 1.5 tenths slower than the BMW Z4. It was also Malucelli who caused the only red flag of the GT qualifying session after hitting a kerb and leaking gearbox oil over the track, the end result was the stewards deleting his fastest time, but his second fastest still garnered second place.

Risi ended up being the meat in the BMW sandwich as Dirk Muller put the #56 third – ahead of both Vipers and Corvettes who both could have done better.

Irishman Damien Faulkner took the GTC pole following on from his exploits at the Circuit of the Americas, with Jeroen Bleekemolen unable to match Faulkner’s pace in the WeatherTech Porsche.

To see who comes out on top tune in to tonight or follow our live tweeting at @tcfsportscars.

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