Brundle on Pole from Sahlen’s Six Hours Qualifying Full of Firsts

by James Broomhead
Alex Brundle gave OAK Racing their first TUDOR Championship pole position (Courtesy of IMSA)

Watkins Glen debutants Alex Brundle and Andy Priaulx overcame their apparent disadvantage to claim pole positions in the Prototype and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

On their first Watkins Glen appearances the pair of Britons gave their teams their first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship poles of the season.

Driving OAK Racing’s Morgan-Nissan Brundle made the decisive moved to the top the times half way through the 15 minute session around the long circuit of the New York state track. His time of 1:37.902 was more than six tenths faster than that which put Christian Fittipaldi and the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype on the other side of the front row.

Fittipaldi shares the #5 with Joao Barbosa and Burt Frisselle for the weekend. Fittipaldi and Barbosa won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen last year when it was part of the Rolex Series and currently lead the TUDOR Championship’s Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) standings, the four race season-within-a-season that began with the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

However, the experienced Brazilian was beaten by Brundle, who shares the LMP2-spec car with Gustavo Yacaman and Ho-Pin Tung.

“I didn’t get a chance to go to the test [in May]; I just set about it,” said Brundle. “But we worked well as a team. Gustavo had been here previously, which helped. He was here and was able to share some knowledge about the track. The first time we went out on the circuit we immediately divided the knowledge back to the other two. There has been no infighting and driver bickering at all. Everyone is working toward the same goal and that has been very critical to learning a place very quickly.”

Michael Valiante qualified Spirit of Daytona Racing’s Corvette DP third ahead of Scott Pruett in the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford-Riley. Pruett has four Sahlen’s Six Hours victories, including three consecutive wins with Memo Rojas from 2008 to 2010. Pruett will share the #01 entry with Rojas and Sage Karam.

In GTLM Priaulx gave he and fellow class points leader Bill Auberlen their first pole position of a season that has already seen them finish on the podium three times.

“The pole is nice and it’s always nice for the ego, but we’ve got to maintain our position in the championship,” said Priaulx. “I was delighted to get the chance to qualify today; in all fairness Bill has been quick and you know we’ve got a great car this weekend. Bill has been a front-runner here a long, long time, so I’ve just got to work on bringing Bill a clean car.”

With a time of 1:44.376 (compared to Priaulx’s 1:44.084) Jan Magnussen split the pair of BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE with Dirk Mueller just a single thousandth slower than the Corvette Racing man in third. Michael Christiansen qualified the #912 Porsche North America entry fourth with Jonathan Bomarito fifth fastest in the session in the throw-back liveried #93 SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper.

Colin Braun put he and CORE Autosport teammates Jon Bennett and James Gue in pole position to extend their class points lead, qualifying the #54 car with the eleventh fastest time overall (1:40.562).

Leh Keen kept up the theme of firsts in qualifying but giving the Porsche 911 GT America its first TUDOR Championship pole position. Qualifying the #22 WeatherTech car that he shares with Cooper MacNeil and Philipp Frommenwiler Keen completed a lap of the 3.4 mile circuit in 1:48.831. Dane Cameron qualifying his Turner Motorsports BMW Z4 second fastest ahead of Jeroen Bleekemolen’s #33 Viper and Flying Lizard Motorsports’ #45 Audi making it four manufacturers in the top four of the class.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen starts at 11am local time (4pm UK).

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